Rattled In by Jon Bryan
On Nov. 11, 2006 my son Brad and I went out at 12:15 PM to try and rattle
up a buck. He is active-duty military stationed at Ft. Hood and I am
retired and own a ranch five miles southwest of Goldthwaite, Texas. The
little cool snap we had just enjoyed, and the first quarter of the new
moon had triggered heavy buck movement in our area, and we believed that
mid-day offered the best opportunity.
Brad had the first shot this day since he had not shot a deer in almost
three years. One of those years being spent in Iraq, and the other
eighteen months being taken up with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation
to remove a stage 4 tumor from his right tonsil. He has been cancer free
for the past twenty-four months! Praise the Lord!
Brad had decided on a tree stand in some real thick oak and cedar, in the
back of the property. My spot was in a concealed area at the base of the
tree that held the stand. The thick cover dictated the weapon he would
use. His choice was an iron sight, Springfield M1903, 30-06 cal rifle,
that he had hand picked from the racks of the Civilian Marksmanship
Program, in Anniston, Alabama. I’ll add here that Brad is an excellent
rifle shot, having been a member of the Army’s rifle team.
We parked the jeep about a quarter of a mile from the stand and began a
very slow, careful walk/sneak into our chosen hunting spot. On the way
in we saw no deer, and when we reached the stand, Brad climbed up into it
and I crouched down and made a comfortable spot for myself on the ground.
Checking my watch, I saw it was 12:35 PM.
Sitting under the tree stand, the excitement building, I waited for
fifteen minutes and then began rattling and whacking the brush with the
horns, while making fighting sounds with my feet scraping the ground.
Since I was in a very well concealed position, I could make this movement
without being detected. Keeping up the rattling for about thirty
seconds, I stopped and everything went back to being very quiet.
Fifteen minutes later, 1:05 PM, I performed the same rattling tactic as
earlier. Not twenty seconds after I had stopped the rattling, there was a
small sound of movement above me in the stand, then “Gruuunt!” from Brad,
and “Bam” the ’03 barked! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Deer
running in a tight circle, dropping and then getting up and heading off
into the brush. That’s a new one I thought.
Jumping up the ladder, I whispered, “You got him!” and he replied, in a
normal tone, “Yes sir, but it was pretty thick where I shot him and I
think my shot was deflected by some twigs.” Walking over to the spot of
the shot, not twenty yards from the tree stand, we found a lot of blood
and not forty yards away, we saw the deer, down, still alive, but not
moving. Brad walked over to the deer and finished him with his knife.
Brad had not seen my Miniature Dachshund, Spike, track a downed deer, so we walked back to the Jeep to go and get the dog when Brad said, “The second you stopped the rattling, the deer stepped out from behind the cover by the edge of the trail and looked straight at the source of the noise. I froze and couldn’t raise my rifle, but as the deer circled behind some thick brush, I raised the rifle and was ready for him. He was moving to my left when I grunted and he stopped behind a mesquite and I thought I had a good, clear shot, but I’m sure the round was deflected slightly by a limb or twig. Funny thing, when I shot him, he hopped and then made two complete circles before he took off into the brush.” This was a new one for both of us.
We picked up Spike and drove back almost to the tree stand, stopped the
Jeep, let Spike down and I said, “Find the deer, Spike!” He started
circling looking for a blood trail and after several minutes found the
spot where the Deer was shot and, in short order, tracked along the blood
trail, right to the deer. Brad thought I had been kidding about Spike’s
tracking ability. Even though each Deer he has found has been dead (and
marked), there will be a time when we can’t find one and Spike’s nose
will prove invaluable!