Today is the first day of rifle deer season here.
For the past couple of weeks I have been knee-deep in deer. Mostly mulies, but with a surprising population of nice bucks. And I'm not talking about the deer just "being around"— I mean they are up close and personal. The inner compound of my place is a two acre homestead plot that contains the house, my shop building, the garden (no access to that for deer!), my close-range shooting areas (out to 100-yards), the storm shelter, and several goodly brush and wood piles. This is where they have been hanging out. There was a 10+ point big-boy, a smaller but still really nice 10-point, and a rangy young 6-point. Sometimes I would wake up and they would be right outside the bedroom window as if trying to look in. They drove the Shorthair nuts, but considering she's a GSP it isn't that lengthy a trip.
I liked having them around, despite the little (and some not-so-little) piles of prairie raisins all over the place. But this morning? Gone. Nary a one in sight. The bucks, and the does, and the littl'uns have all taken a powder. And there hasn't been a shot fired so far as I can tell, at least none heard by me or the dogs. I don't know how they know, but they sure seem to.
Late yesterday afternoon I went up to the annual harvest dinner at a local church. Well, it's forty miles away, but that qualifies for local here. On the first twenty-five miles I saw well over a hundred deer, with easily a dozen nice bucks of 4+ points. At one turn in the little road I saw overhead a huge flock of grouse, easily a hundred, flying directly over the truck. Knowing what that probably meant I slowed way down and sure enough two very large mulie bucks plunged over the fence off my starboard beam, crossed the road, and did it again on the port side. Then they stopped and just stared me down as I eased on up the road.
I have no doubt that all up through the valley they have all gone to ground and will be hard to spot for the next week or so. I'm a hunter and have been for many years, but I wish them well.
This just in, several hours after the above: I thought they were gone, but as dusk approached I noticed the eight-point pussy-footing around behind my shooting butt, and then a little later the six-point appeared. There is an old blow-down just outside my wire and evidently they were holed up there all day.