Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A shotgun not always a requirement during firearms deer season

I guess a person of general interest might have thought that my desire to hunt a portion of every day during Ohio’s recently concluded seven-day firearms deer-hunting season was something of a stretch.

And I suppose that even deer hunters might have wrinkled their brows if they had known that on most days I could be found in my fabric deer-hunting blind, holding my Horton crossbow instead of my souped-up Winchester slug shotgun.

Can’t say as I’d blame anyone for thinking along those lines. Even for me, hunting for at least 90 minutes every day is an assignment best left to people much younger than my 60-plus years of occupying above-ground space.

Yet it had always been a goal of mine. And one that I might complete next year as

It all started over in Pennsylvania and for which I wrote two stories on the subject. Both appeared in Tuesday’s edition of The News-Herald and perhaps in our sister paper, The (Lorain) Morning Journal.

Without dwelling too much on the details of the Pennsylvania firearms deer-hunting season opener, the facts are not in dispute. I shot what I thought was a doe but what turned out to be a buck instead; one that was not eligible to be taken by an adult.

So I turned myself in, forfeited the deer, paid my $25 restitution fee but saw the Game Commission officer issue to me another buck tag.

By Tuesday I was home, chased out of Pennsylvania by the very same nasty wet weather system that pummeled everyone there, here and everywhere else.

Thank goodness for my deer blind, set up because I’m forbidden to climb into a tree stand or surmount a tree ladder stand. A bad back with a recent $200,000 surgery and a still undiagnosed balance issue to deal with prevents me from rising above the earth.

So I swapped my rifle and kept my Winchester slug shotgun secured in its gun locker. Removed was my Horton Vision 175 crossbow and the appropriate related archery tackle.

About the only difference during the gun season was the state requirement to wear a vest or other outer garment made from blaze orange fabric.

The other requirement was for me to exit the blind at sunset rather than 30 minutes later. Which caused a little bit of a problem. On two evenings right at the cusp of legal-illegal shooting hours I unzippered the blind’s fly and rolled out.

Much to my chagrin in each episode I saw a deer standing less than 75 yards away.
I guess I’ll never know whether either deer would have come to the bait station in time under archery-hunting time rules and not under the firearms-hunting time rules. Then again, a before-work hunt saw me depart after two hours to the sight of three does strolling

On Saturday I switched gears once more and headed for Ashtabula County with my wife, Bev, my older brother, Rich, and my oldest brother, Terry. We were part of a 10-person crew that would conduct an assortment of deer drives on a piece of lightly hunted property.

As success and blessing would have it, both Terry and I killed deer; Terry shooting a buck which had broken off both of its antlers. My deer was a button buck, an animal that hard-charged its way through an overgrown mass of saw-felled tree tops.

Fired at first by both Bev and Rich the button buck managed to elude each but was taken down by my Winchester that fired Winchester-brand Platinum sabot slugs. How I managed to (safely, I must add) swing on a fast-moving deer at 70 or so yards and hit it not once but twice will remain a mystery to me.

In any event, I wrapped up the hunt but also looked forward to again getting to my deer blind and using the crossbow.

Sunday was a repeat of getting out of the blind at sunset just at the same moment when a deer shows up for dinner. Which got me to thinking.

My inkling was to believe that if I were to hunt the Monday AFTER the conclusion of the firearms deer-hunting season when it was again legal to hold my ground for 30 minutes after sunset, I’d have a chance to poke a deer with an arrow.

It wasn’t bad strategy. It was good, in fact. Except for one thing; Monday saw a raw and bitterly angry lake-effect system pour in. This presented me with a lot of snow to waddle through along with a whole bunch of wind to bundle up against.
Not surprisingly I didn’t see any deer that evening; just a couple of red squirrels that carved out tunnels in the deepening snow as they made their way from a nearby tree to a pile of shelled corn.
Still, I had kept to my promise. I had hunted at least 90 minutes during every day of the firearms deer-hunting season. Plus a bonus eighth day when you include Monday, which I did.
All the same, I’m still not finished. Too, if it weren’t for some family obligations and maybe some too-deep snow depths you’d probably find me in my hunting blind this evening.

Not to worry, however. I have until Feb. 6 to kill another deer from my archery-hunting blind along with two more days during the bonus two-day firearms deer-hunting season and four days for the muzzle-loading season.

In the long view of things there’s still a lot of hunting daylight left for me.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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