Today was opening day of firearm deer season here in western NY. My first opener since 1987. Wow didn't realize it had been over 20 years until I typed it. Oh, I've hunted deer. But, due to job and time constraints it just hasn't happened except here and there. This year I just happened to have a weeks vacation coming and the ability to take time off at just the right time.
Today wasn't a great day in the woods. But, there is no such thing as a bad day in the woods.
It was also my stepdaughters first deer opener. It could have been a real letdown for her. She's a trooper though and made the best of it. Being her first time out I made araingments to hunt one of my gun clubs. I figured it would be a more controlled situation and safer for her. However I didn't know just how many people hunted the clubs lands. I knew they had enough people for some serious drives. I've been on deer drives and don't in particular care for them. I picked us a spot down in the gorge of Oatka creek. I knew the drive would be above us on top and we wouldn't be in the line of fire. I'll tell you this when the shooting up there started I knew what being a dad felt like. Right off the bat I moved DD to the down range side of a big beech tree. While we weren't in the direct line of fire I sure do know what the wrong end of a shooting gallery sounds like. Now the place we were hunting is under management and is antlerless only. If I shot the first doe she was done hunting, due to her status as a junior hunter. So, she was told the first deer was hers and I'd be her backup shot. BTW, we were both shooting traditional sidelock muzzleloaders with cloth patched round balls. Well that drive did send us a doe, a big one. She came down the hill saw us move and froze. Then she did that jump and turn 180 degrees thing that only a deer can do. There she is ears and nose twitching trying to figure out what we were. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. DD didn't shoot. Well that doe did that crouch she was going to jump, as she started to rise I let fly with a .50 cal ball and missed. Then I heard the "what the?" from my daughters tree. It seems she was just getting her sights settled when I shot. I broke my word that the first shot was hers. That pains me to no end. I could only think her gun misfired, not that due to a different angle she couldn't tell whether the deer had antlers or not.
She forgave me though. trouble is forgiving myself.
As it turns out it was just as well. As we left we stopped at the clubs rifle range to empty the guns. Well hers didn't go off. Several months ago I picked up an old kentucky replica from the 70's. Poorly built from a kit it had ignition problems. With quite a bit of tinkering I thought I had the gun shooting well enough to hunt with. The plan was to hunt with it, then after hunting season rebuild it into something nice. Turns out I got it working good when it was warm and dry. Put it in the misty damp air at 40 degrees and all it's old problems return.
Tomorrow the sidekick will be carrying a single shot 20 gauge with slugs. I will be carrying my kentuckian replica that shoots cloverleafs all day long at 50 yards.
Tonight we eat spagetti and meatballs from the store.
Maybe to morrow we eat liver and onions from the woods.
Lets hope at least.