Firearms deer season opened last Saturday in Montana. I like to get out as much as possible during the first week since both whitetail bucks and does can be taken in most units. After that most areas are restricted to bucks only. I can appreciate a nice set of antlers but I'm a meat hunter. I'll take the first legal deer that presents a shot to try to put meat in the freezer.
I decided to take my 5" .44 Magnum BFR out on opening day. When I posted a pic of this gun on the Bragging Board a while back s4s4u (Rod) came up with the name "L'il Bulldog" which I thought fit it perfectly. This guns accuracy and quality has always impressed me but for some reason I've never hunted with it.
I was using 240 grain Remington semi-jacketed hollow point bullets that I loaded over a charge of W296. I've been happy with the accuracy of this load but I've never used them on game.
Saturday morning started off with me getting about 3 hours sleep and trying to figure out why my alarm was going off so early. Then I remembered it was opening day and suddenly getting out of bed didn't seem so bad. I got dressed and headed to one of my favorite areas.
This spot is along a river bottom with a long stretch of willows. The covers so heavy that its usually pointless to try spot and stalk hunting. The deer have the advantage and more often than not spot you before you spot them. Usually you only catch a glimpse of a white tail waving goodbye.
A couple years ago I found a strip about 20-30 yards wide that cuts through the willows. The willows are only about 130 yards wide at that point so by positioning myself close to the middle of the strip I have a chance at anything that passes by on either side. The spot I like to stand is about 50 yards from the south edge and 80 yards from the north edge of the willows.
I prefer spot and stalk hunting but in recent years have been forcing myself to just sit or stand when I have a good location like this. After a lifetime of spot and stalk I have a very hard time staying put. The first hour seemed to drag by and I've only seen hawks, ravens and magpies. I'm hearing occasional shots in the distance so other people must be getting into deer.
Everything in me wants to start still hunting but I force myself to stay longer. At two hours I'm getting antsy. All I've seen is more hawks, ravens, magpies and an osprey. Then, about 30 yards beyond the north end of the willows I see a blue heron take flight from the river bottom. I'm hoping something is coming this way and that's why he spooked. Then again he could just be done fishing that spot.
Not long after he blew out a doe enters the opening near the edge of the north end at a fast walk. She stops and looks my way at what I later ranged at 70 yards and a second doe walks up quickly and stops behind her. They didn't act like they were going to stay put long so I quickly put the crosshair of the 2X Leupold behind the first does shoulder and shot. She leapt forward and kicked her hind legs and ran out of my sight followed by the other doe. I replaced the fired round in the BFR, put my backpack on and headed to where they had been standing.
I start heading the direction they'd gone and it isn't long before I'm seeing blood. On the dead cattails its even easy for my colorblind eyes to see. She made it 75 yards before piling up.
I was impressed with the performance of the 240gr SJHP!
The entrance hole is on the left.
I was able to get out and fill my need to spot and stalk two days later. I had a mule deer doe tag for an area with more open terrain. After covering some ground I was able to take a nice mulie doe with my .45-70 Marlin 1895 using a 405gr JSP at 32 yards. I know, not a handgun but I enjoy big bore lever actions as well as traditional muzzleloaders and traditional archery too. Too many interests with too few seasons to enjoy them all!
Experience is the best teacher, hunger good sauce. Osborne Russell Journal of a Trapper