New Year's Deer Lease Trip Report

The first Safari of 2005 and the last of the 2004 deer season did not start out auspiciously.  The intent was to leave Friday after work so as to get in a full two days (the last two) of deer hunting.  Instead of getting off at the Post Awful at a reasonable hour, a delay occurred because we have so many sorry carriers who call in sick around Holidays.  After nearly an eleven hour day, I arrived home to start packing last minute items.  Leaving at 2015, it was about two hours later than I would have liked.  Once out of the metroplex, vigilance for eyes on the roadside became paramount.  The Safariís purpose was to bag a deer, but not with the Jeep. 

            Out in the country, there were fireworks stands everywhere all the way to the lease.  Canít see how they operate at a profit with all the lights and few customers that I saw.  The electric bills should have blown them away.  There wasnít much traffic as the drunks must have still been getting lit.  It is odd to see houses decorated for Christmas all by themselves in the middle of nowhere.  There was one that was note worthy, a rich dude had erected lighted deer and a lighted deer feeder that kind of reminded me of ghost deer out in the pasture.  It was really cool.  Arriving at the lease around 2245, it was great to see the land was dry as a bone.  Just in case, I locked in the hubs and put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive.  Halfway up the drive to camp it seemed like the 4-wheel drive wasnít working, but it was.  The hillside was still seeping water from the November monsoons.  I couldnít go forward so I backed up to get a running start, no luck.  Then I tried to move a little to the left and break new ground, no way.  After several tries and just when failure seemed the option, there was success with the V-8 at full throttle and mud slinging everywhere.  It was a real close call and primarily from pulling the utility trailer. 

            Setting up camp and getting things prepared for the next morning took an hour and just as I was ready to hit the sack before midnight, I stepped out on the porch and I swear I could hear a woman talking somewhere in the distance.  It was a womanís voice, but I couldnít hear what the words were.  What is weird is that there is no place close within a few hundred yards that a woman should be at that hour.  No explanation.  Woke up at 0300 and then didnít sleep well until the alarm went off at 0500.  All day Saturday, I could barely keep my eyes open.  Guess I am getting too old to put in long hours at work and then drive half the night to go camping.  Going out to the blind, the trip sloshing down the drive was much easier.  Since I didnít set up in advance, everything had to be carried from where the Jeep is parked to the tower.  The temperature in the 60ís generated lots of sweat.  Settling in at the blind, my shoulder holster fell off.  A buckle had come loose and been lost.  At first light (overcast) someone across the river shot twice, after that I didnít really hear anymore deer hunters, but there was some moron, probably hunting doves, who started shooting around 0900, two shots and then a little later two more shots and so on all day long.  He must have been using a double barreled shotgun because it was always two shots and then quiet.  There was some satisfaction when two shots rang out so close together that he must have pulled both triggers at once.  He needed the crap kicked out of him and that would have done it.  All in all, this idiot ruined any chance of my seeing any game for both days.  More than once, I fantasized about stitching the woods with an evenly spaced 20 rounds from the Mini-14.  At the end of the day, I was dead asleep by 2000 and did not wake until 0500. 

            Sunday, the idiot was back at it and all I saw was song birds, crows and buzzards.  It was starting to get kind of dicey getting up the road into camp even without the trailer, fishtailing all the way.  Back to camp at noon to find that cows had unplugged one of the two extension cords to the trailer and moved it 30 feet.  Cattle are the most destructive critters Iíve ever been around, what they donít trip over, they will chew up.  Sunday evening and the deer season was over.  I prepared a campfire and just as it was starting, the rain returned.  It put the fire out, but not before it consumed the trash that I used for kindling so that was okay.  Again, it was bedtime by about 2000.  The alarm went off at 0500 today (Monday) because even though deer season was over, I wanted to try and call up coyotes.  It was raining.  The thought occurred that this was really stupid, but I got up anyway.  The trip down the rutted drive was getting treacherous.  Arriving near the tower, things werenít going well.  Just as I cleared the Jeep, the bulb in the mini maglite burned out.  Pulling out a spare light from my pocket, I trudged on.  Up in the tower I pulled out a new LED light to try and replace the bulb in the mini mag.  That was when I discovered that the LED comes apart too easily when turning it on.  An O Ė ring popped out and it took a while to figure how to get it back in place.  Things were not going well and I am prepared better than ten boy scouts. 

            At first light with a heavy sprinkle there were some dark shapes way out in the pasture at about 350 yards that seemed to be cattle.  The pasture is very light colored dead grass and it makes movement easy to spot that wouldnít be possible in an overgrown field.  The six shapes were far away from the main body of the herd which made me really concentrate on the binoculars.  Soon, it became apparent that they were deer, but it was still too dark to tell anything about them.  They slowly grazed on a path that took them to my feeder which had gone off while they were in sight and so would have heard it.  When they got to the feeder the light was good enough to tell they were does and bambis.  I tried to take a couple of pictures with my telephoto lens, but the camera warned that the light wasnít bright enough.  I could see them through the lens viewfinder and clicked anyway.  The camera was right, when downloaded into the computer, the image was almost ghostly.  While the deer rapidly cleaned off the breakfast table, five tom turkeys came out in the neighborís field.  I think this proves that the idiot gunner messed up my chances the previous days.  There was no shooting since everyone surrounding the area had gone home.  I turned on the varmint call with no effect on any coyotes, but it did chase off the turkeys.  The deer having gone already.  Coyotes move around and none were heard at night so my guess is there werenít any handy.  The rain had stopped so I retrieved the Jeep and unloaded all the gear from the tower and headed back to camp. 

            That last trip through the mud was probably the last one I could have made.  The ruts were almost a foot deep in spots.  Then of all things the sun came out which sure made it nice to repack the utility trailer.  I took some pictures to include with this and before someone asks why I didnít chose a different route into camp, no other way is possible.  The seeping hillside goes all the way around the camp.  It never has been a problem before, but then, November set an all time record for rain in this part of Texas.  Leaving camp in sunshine, the sky to the north was dark and eventually I caught up with the rain.  Stopping halfway home at a car wash, I left a bunch of Erath county in Johnson county from the under carriage of both the trailer and Jeep.  There are pictures of each end of the trailer from inside to show the primitive conditions under which Safariís are conducted.  While any day hunting is better that the same day working at the Post Awful, I saw less deer this year than I can ever remember.  As I clean up everything, there is always the optimism that next season will be better (if I donít lose the lease through the death of the owner who is 86).  I canít complain too much with the buck on the wall from last season.  Bwana Buckeye  

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