The Buck Hunter

By Hal Blood October  2015

            The long wait is over and Deer season is once again upon us. I don’t know about anybody else but I still get excited for the season to begin as I did when I was 10 years old! People who do not hunt, don’t understand that it is as much about being out in the cold and snow while enjoying the solitude of the deer woods. Of course it’s nice to see deer and maybe even shoot a nice buck but that is not what keeps a hunter from taking to the woods year after year. It is more a matter of being part of nature and experiencing the wonders of fall turning into winter how all the creatures react to it. Non hunters will just never get it.

            There is nothing in the world I enjoy any more than wandering the Big Woods with my Remington 7600 carbine in hand. As most of you know I have always used a Williams peep sight on my Carbine which makes carrying this gun effortless from daylight to dark. The bluing on my receiver and barrel is worn off to the shiny steel from 30 years of carrying this gun all over the country as well as Canada. When you carry the same gun long enough, it becomes an extension of your arms. It will shoot anywhere your arms point it, because you have developed hand to eye coordination the same as a baseball player swinging a bat.

            I have known many deer hunters who continually switch guns from year to year or even during the same season. Usually they would tell me they had missed with a certain gun so they lost confidence in it. Some of them would switch from open sights to a scope. It’s like trying to find the silver bullet so to speak, to help them shoot a deer. The hunters I know that have done this, usually end up goofing up more chances at deer by either missing or not getting a shot than you could imagine. The reason is that they never get comfortable with one particular gun and make it an extension of their arms. I have used a Thompson Omega for years for muzzle loader seasons. Because I don’t use it very often it is not natural for me to operate after carrying my 7600 all season. A couple of years ago when track a big buck up on a mountain it became painfully clear. The buck jumped up in front of me at 25 yards broadside and made a couple bounds before disappearing. He would have been dead if I had  my 7600 but just the split second it took me to think about pulling the hammer back was enough time for him to escape. Find the right deer rifle for you and stick with it until it becomes a part of you and the bucks you chase will be in trouble!

            In September I had a chance to go Elk hunting again. I have shot two nice bulls with a scoped rifle at 200 – 300 yards. This time I wanted to make the hunt more of a challenge so I took my pump gun out to Colorado for the hunt. I figured I would shoot out to 150 yards, but really wanted to try and sneak in on an old bull at under 100 yards. In this day and age with gun and optics technology shooting out to 1000 yards in not uncommon. I don’t have anything against hunting with scoped rifle and for most people it helps them make good clean kills. I’ve used scopes in the past and probably will in the future depending on what I hunt. Shooting any animal beyond 500 yards does not take much hunting skill, you just have to have shooting skills. I’ve said it before but I think we’ve lost a generation of hunters with real hunting skills. The skill to sneak around quietly in the woods and get into close range of the game using the wind and cover is not that common anymore. I applaud all of you who still do it and pass it along to the youth.

            While sitting on a hill in Colorado the second evening of my elk hunt, I spotted a nice 6x6 bull with 8 cows 700 yards away on a mountain. Chris was with me to film my hunt and I was going to film him hunting as well. I figured he would follow the cows down to the meadows in the bottom to feed and water that night. I thought by getting up to where the elk were early in the morning I might catch them coming back up into the thick scrub oak brush. As daylight broke we were high up on the mountain and the bull was bugling down low. As I worked my way to the spot they had been the previous evening it became obvious that the herd was not going to come back that far up. They had settled in on a small brush covered ridge just above the meadow. I decided to sneak down to the ridge from above and get into shooting range. It had been hot and dry for a week making sneaking in the brush difficult. We had to just move slowly and sound like other elk. We finally got to the top of the ridge and could hear the elk moving in the brush below us. As we eased along looking into the brush the elk got spooky. I heard antlers hitting the brush to the right and knew the bull was moving out. I took a few steps to the right just as the bull broke into an opening at 80 yards. I put the bead on his shoulder and touched off a shot. The bull bolted into the brush as I sent the second 180gr round nose Core-Lokt his way. We waited for everything to settle down and then made our way down into the brush. The bull lay dead 75 yards down the hill. He was not only the biggest bull I had taken, it was also my most exciting elk hunt. 

            I wish all of you the best of luck this deer season and may you shoot the buck of your dreams!

Hal is a Master Maine Guide and Author. He is President of Big Woods Bucks and is the Hunting and Expedition Specialist at Remington Arms Co. He can be contacted at hal@bigwoodsbucks.com.