By Rick Bramwell
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — Opening day of the Indiana deer gun season has been a "No miss" for me since I was 16 years old.
This year, I was excited to hunt a new woods in Henry County. My hunt almost got off to a very bad start.
While leaving the truck, I checked the wind. It was moderate and from the southeast. I decided to set a fencerow where I could watch the southwest corner of the Indian mounds woods.
As I unfolded my hunting chair something caught my eye. I had scared a varmint out of the fencerow cover and was watching it waddle out across the picked corn. It was black with a white stripe down the back. For whatever reason, the skunk did not feel threatened enough to spray.
I readied my shooting sticks and waited for the sun. Daylight came with a mist of rain and fog, still, it was a pleasant morning full of promise.
By 9 a.m. the wind was howling and a light rain began to fall. I decided the conditions would give me cover to begin still hunting the south edge of the woods. I had seen a nice buck here three days earlier, but his fresh tracks were not to be found this morning. I gave up an hour later.
Sunday was a wash and Monday, Evan Shuey and I were to hunt Brown County State Park.
A park employee took us along a muddy ridge fire lane and dropped us off. It didn't take long for Evan to see a buck and miss it. This was his first deer hunt. We looked for blood, but found none.
Evan disappeared down a draw while I followed a bridle trail. I just passed a small pond when I saw the back of a deer. Four steps off the trail and I could see the entire deer. I put the scope of my Optima muzzleloader on the chest and squeezed. A cloud of black powder momentarily obstructed my view, but the deer died in its tracks.
Meanwhile, Evan was seeing 10 deer, four of them bucks chasing a doe. He never had an opportunity for a good shot.
The flurry of deer and shooting all but stopped late morning. Evan and I decided to swap guns as we walked to the trail head. "There are two deer on that far hillside," Evan whispered. He anchored his Optima on a tree as the deer stopped. I waited, but he never fired. When the lead doe entered the fire trail, I put a .44 magnum through her neck.
In switching guns, Evan did not know there was a difference between the Marlin and the Optima. The .44 mag has a safety with the hammer back. You have to cock the muzzleloader. He was feeling for the safety and failed to cock the hammer.
The hills of Brown were relatively quiet Tuesday morning. I saw three deer and Evan one. We will continue our quest for his first deer this week and next.