My family and I packed everything up after eating our Thanksgiving lunch with the in-laws and headed for Vidalia, GA. The plan was to hunt Friday, Saturday, and half day on Sunday. My goal was to fill my buck quota and bag a few does before the December doe break started on Sunday.
On the way up to Georgia I realized that I probably wasn’t as cold weather prepared as I had thought. So the wife and I decided to swing by Wal-Mart to get some warm clothing and the baby some milk. Boy was that a mistake. I didn’t know that Wal-Mart had started their Black Friday sale at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving day. Which was the exact time that we arrived in Vidalia. Talk about being packed. The Wal-Mart parking lot was so full that people were parking across the four lane highway. This changed our minds and we headed to a convenience store to get milk. I’d do without warm weather gear. I mean, how cold could it get?
The temp was 34 degrees. Way colder than I had expected, but I wasn’t going to give up my hunt. I need to get out there.
I stole my wife’s Flagler College sweatpants, doubled up my socks and put on two t-shirts under my long sleeved camo jacket. I was looking forward to this hunt and the cold wouldn’t stop me. With my rifle and hunting pack in hand, I headed to the Jeep.
It didn’t take me long to make it where I needed to sign in. The hunting club is only 7 miles from my wife’s uncle’s house where we were staying. I signed in and made my way to the gate. Unlocked it and slowly creeped the Jeep along the trail to where I could park. My in-laws had marked the spot for me to park. I quickly and quietly grabbed my rifle and hunting pack and headed to the stand. My only light was my Browning hunting flashlight. I used the red LED so I wouldn’t spook any deer that may be bedding near by.
Upon approaching the stand I tied my gun to the rope and climbed up. Once I was safely in the stand I pulled my Ruger American 308 up. Now I was ready.
I had gotten to the stand around 6:15 AM. The woods was dead quiet. No noise, no movement, just peaceful silence. I really enjoy this time.
The forest started to come alive as the sun rose. The crows started squawking, the roosters off in the distance started to crow, and the squirrels woke from their slumber. Going from the predawn quiet to the voices of the now awake woods seemed so loud. Surely the deer wouldn’t be able to sleep through their woodland neighbor’s chatter.
I waited for what seemed like an eternity in the cold. My legs starts to tingle and my hands were going numb. My nose started leaking what I could only imagine was my brain trying to find warmer pastures. I was ready to give up. The cold was beating me. It was 8:00 AM now and I still had an hour and a half to go. I wasn’t going to make it.
Then, as if nature was taking pity on me, a doe walked out into the opening. This was my target. I had to get as many does before Sunday. The doe continued to walk through the opening and headed towards the road I had walked in on. The doe wasn’t interested in the food plot or the corn that we had setup.
I silently pulled my rifle up, flipped the safety and hoped the deer would stop before leaving. As luck would have it she did. Not sure what made her stop, but she looked around. This was my chance. I positioned the crosshairs behind the right shoulder. Squeezed the trigger and felt the bullet race down the barrel. The doe dropped instantly. The woods was silent, except for the thrashing of the doe as she quickly died.
It’s amazing how you can forget the cold and everything else once a deer walks into view. I was no longer cold. The adrenaline warmed me up. After sitting in the stand for a few minutes it started to get cold again. Time to call it.
I got down from the stand and headed back to the Jeep so I could load the doe onto the cargo carrier. I didn’t think that any deer would be around after shooting so I walked at a quicker pace than I normally would have after morning hunt. As I rounded the last corner I saw my Jeep. I stopped. Thirty yards behind my Jeep was the biggest buck I’ve ever seen in real life. The problem was my Jeep. I started to wonder if Geico would cover me shooting through my windshield at the buck. Thinking that I’d better not try, I attempted to slide over just enough to get a clear shot at the buck. As it happened the buck saw me. Before I could do anything the buck was gone. No worries. I had a doe.
My wife received a phone call that her grandfather and other uncle had changed their minds and headed up to Georgia to also hunt. This worked out well for me. I had no idea how to clean a deer.
I was able to get a good bit of meat from the doe. I did lose the left shoulder and ribs and part of the right shoulder. This was because I was shooting ballistic tip bullets. Still had a lot of meat for the freezer.
The Rest of the Trip
Where Friday morning was quiet the rest of the hunts weren’t. I don’t know if everyone took to the woods the following afternoon and days, but it sure sounded like it. I went back to the same stand Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. No deer was seen. Saturday afternoon I decided to try a different stand. One a bit farther in the woods away from the road and shooting. I saw nothing. I did pay attention to the signs and came across a coyote track. Guess I wasn’t the only predator in the woods.
I had hoped to get a doe on Saturday as it would be the last day I could hunt does in Georgia until December 26th when I returned for Christmas.
Sunday I went to my wife’s uncle’s stand. He had killed buck there Saturday morning and the area still showed signs of deer. The morning went by quick. It was peaceful and quiet. However, no bucks came to the stand.
I went back to the uncle’s house, packed and had a wonderful lunch with my wife’s aunt and uncle. Said our goodbyes and headed home. I may not have gotten a lot of deer this trip, but I enjoyed every minute of my time in the woods and my time with the family when I wasn’t hunting. It’s experiences like this that will keep me coming hunting.