Sometimes you just know when to press the trigger hunting deer in Pennsylvania
I had a great rifle deer season. Like many of you, I began last fall’s rifle deer season with a plan.
Your plan might have been to shoot the first legal deer that walked by, or it might have been holding out all season in hopes of a trophy buck. My plan was that I would pass on smaller bucks, hoping for one of the larger-antlered deer that had been spotted in the area where I hunt. I would use my antlerless tag on Dec. 9 or 10 – the last two days of rifle season.
Like many things in life, hunting doesn’t always proceed as planned.
Opening day – I saw 14 deer, and I missed a shot at a very respectable 8-pointer. Another one of the 14 deer was also a buck, although smaller.
Day two – I saw only three deer, but two were bucks. At 10:04, a five-point buck walked right under my treestand. I passed as planned. About a half hour later, a spike buck walked by, trailing a doe.
Day 3 – It rained most of the day and I did not hunt.
Days 4 and 5 – I was able to hunt for only a short time, but I saw four does.
Saturday, Dec. 3 – I enjoyed myself listening to ravens and watching blue jays, Carolina wrens and chickadees. I also had deer action all morning – seeing 20 deer. At 12:40, a doe ran across the stream below me and crashed through the rhododendron. A minute later, she was followed by a five-point buck in hot pursuit. I again passed on the smaller deer. Five-pointers can only turn into 8 or 10-pointers if you don’t shoot them when they are small.
At 1:15, I heard three fairly close shots up on the ridge. About five minutes later, I spotted two deer moving my way. The first thing that I noticed was the lead doe, a medium-sized deer. She had a scarlet leg and had difficulty walking – it looked like a broken shoulder to me. This wasn’t in my plan, but there was no way that I would feel good about letting that wounded deer hobble away. It took only a few seconds for me to decide that this was my deer.
I put the crosshairs on her shoulder and pressed the trigger – she ran another 10 yards before expiring. I waited in my tree for 10 minutes, hoping that another hunter would be following the blood trail. No hunter appeared, but five more does filed by.
About this time, it dawned on me that my antlerless license and doe tag were still at home on my desk. After all, I hadn’t been going to shoot a doe until the end of the following week, right? Fortunately, I was hunting only 400 yards from my house. I walked back to retrieve my yellow license – giving even more time for the other hunter to find the deer.
My doe was still there upon my return. I tagged and field dressed her and dragged the deer to my pickup. There might not be antlers on the wall, but there would be venison in the freezer.
I saw a total of 27 deer that day – the most deer that I have seen in one day of hunting in a long time. It was a good day in Pennsylvania’s deer woods.