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Hunting With Questionable Equipment

HaywardBy Dan Hayward
-- In 2004, I went on my first blacktail deer hunt to Hinchinbrook Island, south of Cordova, Alaska. I went with two of my good friends, Ken and Mike. Both of my friends have gone deer hunting many times on Hinchinbrook and on the east coast.

It was the third week of November and it was about 40 degrees outside with about 2 feet of snow on the ground. We got settled in our A-frame cabin and waited for the next morning to come. We left the cabin at 8 a.m., about one hour before sunlight, to head to our hunting site. Ken told me about some ridges that we were going to walk, as well as some surrounding fields we'd scan.

The first part of the day passed, and I didn't see anything, Ken said he caught a couple of glimpses, but I didn't believe him.

We decided to split up to cover more ground. About an hour after we separated, I heard a gunshot. Ken killed a mid-sized doe, and I didn't see a dang thing the rest of the day.

That seemed to be my luck for the next three days. All the while, Ken continued to see more and more deer far away. On the fifth day, I decided to go with Mike and walk some ridges. About two hours into the hunt, Mike shot a little spike fork.

That's when I decided to go hunting on my own. I left Mike and started walking the ridge.

I spotted some fresh deer tracks and followed those about 200 yards. I came to a meadow then all of a sudden I saw the deer. It was a 6-point buck that stood about 30 yards away. I raised my rifle, took a shot and the buck just stood motionless. I reloaded and took another shot. The buck jumped and ran into the trees.

After sitting there for some time, I decided to start looking for the buck. I raised my rifle to place it onto my shoulder and then I heard a clank. My scope was loose in the rings and had slid back about a half an inch. I thought to myself, "Did I just completely miss that buck because of my scope?" I went to inspect were the buck stood to see if there was any blood and none was to be found.

I went into the trees expecting to find blood. Not one drop anywhere. It was getting late, and I decided to head back to camp. When I got back, the guys asked me if I got my first buck. I reluctantly told them that my scope was loose, and that I was almost positive that I missed completely. They felt really bad for me.

The next day, I went with Ken to the same ridge and we worked it together. We decided I should walk on top, and he would walk about halfway up and meet me at the other end. I got to the other end first and sat in the field waiting for Ken to arrive. I heard a whistle before I saw Ken at the edge of the field.

I stood up and whistled back. Just as I started to put my rifle on my shoulder to walk to him, I heard a gunshot. To my surprise, Ken shot another deer. I rushed over and Ken said, "I was trying to get your attention to get over here to shot this buck, but he was getting ready to run away."

It took us about 2 hours to find what we thought was his buck. When we walked up to it, Ken grabbed the rack to look at it. The deer was stiff. He looked at me and asked, "Where did you shoot your buck?" I looked around and told him on top of the hill. It was my buck that we found. I finally shot a buck!

It took us almost another hour to find Ken's buck.

I was ecstatic that I didn't miss that buck. We arrived at camp and Mike was already there. We brought our packs inside and told Mike that Ken shot two deer with one bullet. He didn't believe it for a minute. Then we told him the truth. That day Ken took a 7-point buck and I took a 6-pointer.

This hunting trip taught me that we need to always thoroughly check our weapons every single day. I'm already making plans on getting back into the woods soon.

Dan Hayward
Fairbanks, Alaska

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