the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Sausage the Deer

Posted by Jeff Id on December 6, 2013

So I finally got a deer – while hunting!   I’m 44 so most had completely given up hope on me ever shooting one, and the office humor revolved around how much drinking we were going to do and whether I was going to bring the gun this year, but the area we hunt in isn’t particularly easy.  It took me quite a few years to realize some of the tricks to finding the critters in dense human-free woods.

Normally our deer camp has a good sized crowd of die-hard hunters ready to teach me what to do, but this year multiple camp regulars were hit with serious family related problems so the population of our thousand plus acres of Gaia’s wilderness, was approximately two.   Dad and I had a great time but when ‘Sausage’ the deer poked his head from the woods, things got pretty interesting.  Having 6 or 7 hunters to help with some of the inconveniences of shooting deer, is a lot different than two.

Sitting in my ladder stand on opening day this year, the weather was warm and there was a lot of activity in the woods.  If you have ever spent extended time in the woods, you find hours of dead silence and times of amazing activity.  In a tree stand, the wildlife seems to have a hard time recognizing that you are any sort of threat.   After all, there aren’t that many two hundred pound predators lurking in the tree tops.

A red squirrel spotted me at one point, but didn’t know what I was so he ran up the pine tree next to me and ran out on a branch to where I could have reached out and petted him.  Its important to sit still though so the critters don’t cry out an alarm so we just looked at each other for a while until he got bored and left.

Being the natural-born hunter that you know I obviously am from the intro, there were plenty of mishaps during the day.  I dropped a glove, 14 ft down and had to go get it and later on I got so tired I was falling asleep in the stand – not the safest thing to do even with modern harnesses.  I began shooting video of myself in the tree with whispered commentary, because it was keeping me awake.  I was talking about how the deer would wait to come out at dusk and pointed out where they come from and which way they would go.  It didn’t help me completely though because I put my head down on the shooting rail at around 2pm and the next thing I knew the iPhone was on the ground – 14 ft down.

Still, I kept hearing the shuffle step of deer in the woods behind me during the day.   It kept me excited but right-or-wrong I was certain from past years that the critters weren’t coming out in daylight hours.    Deer like to take a few steps then stop.   It takes some experience to separate their sound from the sound of other wildlife.  Red squirrels are actually louder in dry leaves and even snap twigs on occasion.   Deer and large animals snap big twigs.   Then there is the sound of falling logs and breaking branches from the natural processes of the general woods.   You learn to hear the differences though.

Right at dusk, I was 100% awake and heard the shuffle sound followed by a large stick breaking.   It was definitely a deer but bucks are more wary and rare than does.  I was so alert that I saw his head poke out from the trees 60 yards away – right where I had expected!  It was dark enough that it was hard to see if there were antlers but there was a hint of something there- you can’t shoot doe’s in our area during rifle season.   I grabbed my grandfathers 30-06 from the shooting rail as he stepped from the woods and I looked down the scope.  I got the hint of antlers again so I clicked off the safety.   I was excited so the snap was metallic sounding and even from 60 yards the buck was so wary that his head popped up and he did that perfect ‘shoot me’ pose  that you find on the side of every box of bullets or that bottle of Eau-Du-doe —- you know the one:

I wanted to wait for him to walk closer but he was way too alert though so I was expecting that rear-hoof stomp and that would be the last time I saw him.   The antlers were still a hint on his head against the trees behind but I was sure and took the shot.   The whole thing lasted under ten seconds.   Eight years of hunting in the UP of Michigan and ‘Sausage’ and I knew each other for less than 10 seconds.

Unexpectedly, instead of laying down, Sausage decided to run!  He took off into the woods running low and fast like a cat escaping certain vacuum cleaner doom. I wasn’t worried though, he wasn’t going far, I unloaded (removed) the other two bullets from the rifle I normally use and realized that I was shaking like a leaf.   I took 15 minutes getting down from the stand and gradually walked toward where Sausage was standing.  There were hoof prints but no blood or fur!   I spent 20 minutes using my best engineer tracking skills (none!) and Sausage the deer was not there, there was no blood, no fur and nothing to indicate that he had any intention of becoming dinner.   Just to be clear, that is not typical for a shot from a 2700fps 180 grain 30-06.

It was getting very dark and Dad had driven the truck to my pickup spot so I went to him and we tried finding him together in the dark.   No luck, no sign, nothing.   We went back to the cabin and had dinner.  I spent the night worrying about whether I had actually hit him or if a twig had deflected the bullet.   It didn’t make sense.   From the deer’s reaction, I was certain he was hit but there was no blood.  A book in camp called “Finding Wounded Deer” told a story of a double lung shot with no blood so I found that somewhat reassuring.   The next morning we went out in bright daylight and still found no sign that he had been hit.   We followed the tracks into the dense woods and Dad found Sausage right away.   He hadn’t gone even 40 yards.

It took the two of us 2 1/2 hours to get the deer out of the woods.   We had three mechanical problems with the game cart, dense woods to contend with and the fact that Sausage was pretty big for a UP deer!  We were very tired to say the least.   To give an idea of the size of him, this is a shot of my 6 foot tall father standing next to him on the deer pole at camp.

560

We got it done though.   My field dressing skills turned out to be not much better than my 3yo son Ethan on a stick of butter but that got done also.   The bullet entered the right side, snapping the upper leg bone, passed through the chest and exited the left side rib cage.   On expert forensic review, the bullet actually turned immediately after the left side rib cage and traveled outside the ribs and under the skin without exiting.  No external blood whatsoever!  I had actually hit the heart and lungs at a good distance so my night of fretting about a long track or not being able to find Sausage, was completely wasted.

By the time we got him to camp and hanging from the pole, I was very tired.  So when I shot this video and I tried to smile as much as I could, after 8 years of hunting it wasn’t that hard to do.

26 Responses to “Sausage the Deer”

  1. corev said

    Congratulations! First buck is always memorable, and you have video too. At just under 70, I can relate to your hunting experience with my own.

  2. philjourdan said

    Congratulations! A co-worker’s boy friend got his first deer this year as well (they are in their 50s), so you are not alone. I guess the deer are getting less sneaky.

  3. Brian H said

    When I first saw your title in my email, I wondered if it was a suggestion! How did you pick that name?

  4. Jeff Id said

    Thanks guys. It was a great trip that I won’t forget.

  5. Pat said

    have you run the bore snake you got for your birthday through grandfathers gun yet? It was a great trip but too many camp people were missing this year. Love dad

  6. John Norris said

    Ah, a significant family event. Very cool.

  7. kuhnkat said

    Venison jerky!!

  8. Matthew W said

    A happy ending !!!

  9. Matthew W said

    ” using my best engineer tracking skills”

    Why am I picturing Dilbert and Wally in the woods???

  10. Sera said

    Sounds like every hunt I’ve ever been on, except I’m still a virgin. Congrats!

    So- are you going to run him through Matlab or an R package?

  11. omanuel said

    Congratulations, Jeff.

    Thanks to being snowed-in today, Chapter 2 of the autobiography, “A Journey to the Core of the Sun,” was completed and is now posted below for your consideration:

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Chapter_2.pdf

    This chapter provides clear and unequivocal evidence:

    1. Neutron repulsion is the source of energy in cores of heavy atoms and stars
    2. The Sun made our elements, birthed the solar system and sustains our lives
    3. Iron-56 is the most abundant and most stable atom in the Earth and the Sun
    4. Weizsäcker’s “nuclear binding energy” obscures neutron repulsion selectively

    These are the main conclusions to the research assignment I received from the late Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda 53 years ago.

    Comments from you and others would be appreciated.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  12. Fred Harwood said

    Twigs don’t much deflect a 180 out of a 30.06…

    • Jeff Id said

      I’ve always found that to be an interesting topic. How far will a bullet actually deflect from a twig. Were they equal density, the twig and bullet, that would definitely create serious issues, but lead to wood is something else entirely. In my case, I bought a full solid copper bullet, the first time I’ve even used one of those, and considering that we spent hours at the range shooting 180 lead bullets, it wasn’t the most optimal solution. Still, where we hunt, the fact that the deer was visible from that distance is a pretty unusual situation. My understanding is that most times the deer are far closer. The copper bullet had the same mass and velocity as what I used to sight the gun but a lower density which probably makes a bit more susceptible to deflection.

      Over 60 yards though, a twig could turn a good shot into a bad one really quickly, and the twigs were in the first 10 feet so I did get pretty lucky. On the day we pulled it from the woods, I spent 5 minutes looking for struck twigs down the shot path and there were none.

      If the twig deflected the bullet even a foot down from the heart it might have been a lot less successful of a day.

    • Robert Austin said

      A twig will definitely deflect a bullet or slug enough to miss at even short distances. the problem is that your eyes focus at the target distance and you don’t even see the twig at the intermediate distance. I missed a deer this way once. It was about seventy yards out but I have a scoped slug gun shooting sabot slugs which can shoot 4″ groups at 100 yards and I had a rest for the gun even. I took the shot and the deer took off. I went to the spot and checked for blood but only found a bunch of hair. I went back up in the stand and looked along the sight line again only focusing on the intermediate distance. Sure enough there was a single branch with a twig of about 1/2″ diameter severed off right on my sight line. A definite learning experience.

      • CoRev said

        And, don’t forget arrows/cross bow bolts! Missed my first deer this season by ~1.5 feet high at ~20 Yds. As I sat in the stand looking at my target, I realized there were three small but thin tree tops in the way. Shooting and missing I thought, should have cleaned the shooting path. Did the next day! So much for cover.

  13. Robert Austin said

    Congratulations, you are no longer a “virgin” deer hunter. And gutting your kill is also a right of passage. I vividly remember my first deer 17 years ago. myself and my three buddies were deer-less for the first three days of the hunt and they had to go back to work. Luckily, I took the week of and went out by myself the next day. I was siting up in the tree stand about seven am on a misty morning and this big buck just pranced silently out of the mist. No time to think, I just shot, racked another slug into the chamber and shot again as he ran by full tilt. He kept running out of sight. I was just shaking from the excitement. Reviewing in my head all the lore and came up with “just relax, don’t follow too close, let him lie down and bleed out rather than pushing him on further. Slowly got down and went over to the spot where I shot him. Frothy blood! Lung shot. I had my deer, just had to follow the blood trail. These animals are amazing. Turns out that he ran about 400 yards with a lung shot and a shot through the neck. So here I am with all alone with a 300 lb deer carcass and about 500 yd from the closest place that I can get a vehicle. I could barely drag it with a harness so I had to gut it, first time, no assistance, no audience. I had gutted squirrels and rabbits so I told myself, just treat it like a giant squirrel. With the guts out, I could then drag it, sweating like a pig to my vehicle. Now I really didn’t expect to get a deer and my vehicle was our brand new van that I had picked up the day before! And I had to hoist a gutted bloody deer into it and my arms were covered with gore up to the elbows. But I did it and the newbie deer hunter was the only one of our group to take a deer that year.

  14. Brian H said

    Copy-paste carpet bombing. Pathetic.

  15. jeremyp99 said

    Our Lurcher mutt poppy got a deer a year or so back. Sadly I didn’t have my disembowelling knife with me (nor would I have know how to do it anyway!). In case you didn’t know, the Gaelic word for disembowelling a deer is “gralloch”.

    Congratulations!

  16. Jeff, congratulations on your deer! may it be the first of many. Nice writeup, too!

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