I peeked out the window to see the snow, still falling. The warm couch sure felt good, but I convinced myself to get out there. Up to this point I had hunted nearly 40 hours on my local property and had yet to see a single deer. That’s astounding for November; or for any other time for that matter.
With only a few hours left to hunt before light would vanish over the ridge, I decided to keep it simple. I grabbed my Grandpa’s Western Auto lever-action 30-30, a flashlight, and a knife. I wasn’t going to head to my usual spots that I’ve scouted and have treestands carefully placed. No, I would do what Grandpa used to do… Hike into the woods and use only instinct and a basic read of the land to find a spot that looked the deer would travel through, then sit against a tree and wait.
I hiked slowly and deliberately, constantly scanning for fresh sign. I didn’t make it too far when I entered an area that looked good. There was a creek bottom below me, the ridge above had a slight saddle on the upper edge. There was a stand of pine to my left, and a thick entanglement of young hardwoods and briars to my right. If a deer moved through here – and it looked like they could – getting a clear shot would be difficult.
Shortly after I sat against a tree, I saw movement from my left. It was a lone doe. Her demeanor didn’t indicate that a buck was in pursuit, and I didn’t see anything else coming, so I pulled my rifle up for the shot. I found her in my scope as she worked her way across the hillside. My sight picture was continuously interrupted as trees jumped between her and I. She turned slightly downhill towards me, standing behind a massive oak. She poked her head out to the right, then disappeared again. After a few seconds she stepped out to the left, somewhat quartering to me.
Knowing that she would either come right towards me or continue on to the right (where the woods grew thicker), I knew that this was my opportunity. I settled the crosshairs and let Grandpa’s gun do what it has done so many times. She took a leap and ran 30 yards before coming to rest.
I didn’t have a bunch of fancy gear. I didn’t worry all that much about the wind. I didn’t think about carefully approaching my pre-scouted, trail-camera-inventoried, prime treestand overlooking the currently “hot” foodplot. I relied on basic tools, basic tactics, and luck was on my side.
Sometimes the simplest hunts are the best ones.