Saturday, January 02, 2010

That's all, folks

Jan. 2 is finally upon us.

It's the first day of no deer hunting or bird hunting. No more drug of choice for this outdoors addict.

With the temperatures plummeting into the single digits and below-zero wind chills, I wouldn't have ventured into Michigan's fields and woods anyway.

Plus, I'm burnt out from the last week of hunting while the family is away. What else was I going to do?

I think the dairy farmer's neighbors were sick of seeing my beat-up blue Dodge truck along the wheat field. And I know they were the day they were in their deer towers at the back of the field I was hunting.

This dogged determination on the final days of the season was sparked by a muzzle-loader failure Dec. 23.

After freezing my tail off, in the waning minutes of legal shooting light, here were three nice does trotting along the middle of the field I was standing watch over.

They couldn't have been lined up more perfectly than if I placed them out there myself like geese decoys.

I had a tailor-made gun rest in the notch of a tree, yet, when I pulled the trigger, I got a click instead of a boom. Not once, but twice. After the second one, the ruminants had figured something was not quite right with the rustling in the woods and bounded over the fence into the neighbor's woods.

The smoke pole wasn't puffing but I sure was. I don't know when I've been madder after a blown opportunity.

Turns out the "fool-proof" 209 primer wasn't seated right in the chamber. First time it ever happened to me. And in the heat of the moment, I did check the primer before botching the second attempt.

The thing that irritated me so much was I had contemplated taking the shotgun instead of the smoke pole but at the last minute -- being nagged and in a hurry to leave -- I decided it would be faster to take the muzzle loader since all of the gear was still ready to go in the backpack -- primers, easy-loader, spare rounds and gun powder pellets.

Hence, rule No. 1 was ingrained in the front of my brain: If you don't need to use a muzzle loader, don't, because there are too many things that can go wrong.

I later missed a running shot with the shotgun on Dec. 27 but that was more of an acceptable botch.

This turned out to be the spirit of this particular hunting grounds and the lone wolf.

I would creep into the front of the small wooded parcel and the deer -- if they were in there -- would slip around the back and into the neighboring woods.

And try as I may, I could not get a second to join me. Seemed like everyone else was too burnt out to motivate or couldn't break away from family for a late season hunt.

Would have been a slam dunk for two hunters. The woods' push would have sent them straight to the stander along the field's edge.

Alas, it was not to be. Nor will there be any free rides for friends on venison this summer.

(Look for Mac's "Top 4 Hunts of 2009" at