The last time I was at home for Thanksgiving was about 15 years ago, back before I had my own vehicle and the ability to head up north on my own. Since that time Thanksgiving deer hunting has become a traditional long weekend of gun hunting with friends and family and is one of hunts I definitely look forward to every season. It use to be a full weekend of hunting with my dad and younger brother but now as I’ve started my own family it has become a weekend split between hunting our property and spending time with my wife, son and in-laws and then heading over and hunting with my dad and brother for a bit as well. While things have changed a bit over the years the premise is still the same, spending time in the woods with family and enjoying the holiday together.
We had hunted in the morning and then in the early afternoon we had a wonderful feast and, as is always the case, the motivation to get out in the woods for the afternoon hunt was pretty low. A belly full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potato’s and sweet potato’s makes a guy want to lie on the couch as opposed to sit out in the woods. As the afternoon wore on we slowly worked out of our food coma’s and the idea of hitting the woods slowly became a bit more bearable.
With only about an hour and forty five minutes of light left my father in-law and I decided it was time to get dressed and head out. It wasn’t going to be a long sit but we were hoping it would be a productive sit, or at least a good nap.
I went to a ground blind pretty close to the cabin and was in and set up pretty quickly. I spent much of the first 45 minutes or so trying to stay awake but I was failing miserably. As we got to the last 30 or so minutes of light I decided it was time to get serious and started watching the 40acre field of canola that I was sitting near.
Here is the view from the blind looking out towards the 40ac canola field
Generally the deer will come from our woods and hop the fence out into the field and begin feeding. We see a lot of feeding activity in this field and even late in the firearms season the deer will still hit this field to feed as darkness approaches.
I had been scanning the field and seeing nothing and had begun to think the hunt was over when I caught a few deer moving well out into the field. They hadn’t come out of our woods but they were out in the field and that’s where I wanted them. They were a ways out there and the range finder put the lead doe at 175yds. With the wind blowing and darkness only about 5 minutes away I decided against taking that long of a shot. Thankfully it appeared as though they were angling towards me a bit. Another check of the range finder confirmed that they had closed the distance quite a bit and were still heading my way.
They were heading off to my right and that doesn’t offer much of a shot so I actually grabbed my shooting sticks and slid out of the ground blind to set up about 10yds away. By heading over there I was able to get an open shot as they got to about 100yds or so. I got set up on my shooting sticks and waited for them to clear some trees so I could get a shot. Darkness was coming fast and I was wondering if they would make it in time.
I could tell the lead doe was a good sized deer so when the first deer popped into the opening I put the scope on her and prepared to take the shot. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want to take a small doe but when another deer appeared next to her it was easy to tell that she was a good sized doe like I had thought originally.
I steadied the cross-hairs on her as she turned and quartered away slightly. With a slow squeeze of the trigger the good old lever action .356 had sent a bullet her way. As my eyes refocused on the spot where she had been standing I saw one tail running off and one splotch of white laying the field. I grabbed the binoculars and confirmed that she had dropped right in her tracks.
She was a bit bigger than our average doe for the area and was 125lbs dressed. I would assume she was a 3.5 year old doe and I was very pleased with her. I had a rough time last year trying to fill my doe permit with my gun and was happy to have things go much smoother this season.
As I stood in the field admiring the doe I remembered that it was Thanksgiving. I took a second and thought of the many things in my life that I am thankful for. An amazing wife, an awesome son and a wonderful family are certainly far more important than a successful hunt. While harvesting the doe was a nice way to wrap of Thanksgiving Day it was just one small part of the smile that found its way to my face.
Take care, and thanks for reading.