As I’m writing this article it’s finally beginning to feel like fall. Hunting season has sneaked-up on me again! I don’t bow hunt anymore, so I don’t think much about hunting until there starts to be a chill in the air. Since there is nothing exciting going on except the new bridge in Broadway, I’ll have to delve into the past for this month’s story.
I have previously mentioned Gate Mountain in my turkey hunting tales. I have also downed a few hard-earned deer on that same mountain. I became familiar with the area when hunting with a good friend of mine, who bagged a nice 9-point buck the first time we hunted there. Later I did some scouting on my own, and discovered a saddle that was a natural funnel for deer traveling through the low ridges. Have you ever found a spot in the woods that just feels right for tagging a buck. This was one of those spots.
It was a cold, crisp, frosty morning during muzzleloading hunting season when I parked at a low spot on Gauley Ridge and began to walk down the hollow into Gate Run. After traversing the steep banks of the stream at the bottom, I began a stealthy still hunt up a ridge on the other side until I arrived at my destination. The saddle was open and provided a good shooting lane but there was no good place in the surrounding laurel to set-up for a clear shot. I ended-up standing by a large oak tree for cover. Not very comfortable but choices were limited.
I stood there for some time in the cold when suddenly I saw movement to my left. It was a decent buck coming toward me along the trail through the saddle. Hammer back, set trigger pulled with a click that sounded loud in the quiet, and the TC Renegade was ready to fire. The buck saw me and stopped just long enough that I could get the front bead of the peep sight on the shoulder and pull the trigger. Through the black powder smoke, I could see the buck wheel around and take off back the way it came.
After settling down a bit and reloading the Renegade I began to follow what turned out to be a well-used deer trail in the direction the buck ran. It was easy to follow the scuff marks in the dirt and leaves for a distance, and I didn’t go far along the side of the ridge until I found some blood. A little farther and there laid a nice 7-point buck.
After field dressing the buck, the fun began! The drag down the Gate Mountain side of the main hollow was steep but easy enough until I got to the creek bottom below. Then it got tougher. A road followed the creek for a ways but I had to maneuver through brush and blowdowns. Next, I had to pull the buck up a steep bank out of Gate Run to get to the mouth of the hollow below my truck. A short rest, and all that remained was a half mile drag uphill. It was drag for a few minutes and rest for a while, drag for a few minutes and rest for a while all the way to the top of Gauley ridge. I didn’t think I’d ever get there, but I made it. This hunt is not for the faint of heart.
I hope everyone has a safe and productive hunting season, and all your drags are short and downhill!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
Graduate of Bergton Elementary (Class of ’65)