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My Redemption Shot!

Success!

I watched the four deer feed along for about a half an hour. They continued moving in my general direction. Would my redemption shot happen?

Just prior to the shot, two young deer appeared to my left. They were about thirty yards away, but limbs and vegetation blocked my view some so I held off. I did not want to miss or wound any deer. I needed a clean humane kill to boost my confidence. Remember all the blunders from the last two years due to sighting issues and difficulties aligning the sights.

Cherry Run

The lead deer cleared itself from the brush and I cocked the hammer. However, the second deer moved behind the lead deer. A shot at this range of approximately twenty yards would see two deer down. I moved my head to look at the right side of two trees in front of me. The other deer was closer now and open. I estimated that deer was around forty yards.

I maneuvered Old Jacob around and aligned the new peep sights onto the front shoulder. Even now I was apprehensive to shoot! I remember thinking to myself it is now or never and BOOM!

The recoil and smoke hid the deer for a second, but I saw the doe running downslope. The deer was obviously hit.  I reloaded while wondering what  happened. I was hoping for an instant drop at the shot.

I found the doe about sixty yards from the shot site. I felt relieved at redemption with this shot. I uttered a small prayer of thanks. The shot ended up being between forty-two and forty-five yards.

I skinned and quartered the deer and placed the meat in a basement fridge. Later I took the meat to a butcher for my time is very limited for now.

The next two days will be in support of my step-father and mother during these early stages of chemo.

 

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It was great being out hunting on this first day of Pennsylvania’s early muzzleloading season. I saw fourteen deer in the five hours I was out hunting. Obviously, some were the same deer being viewed at different times. In fact I saw two bucks and I saw them three different times. The spike was chasing a doe.

The pre-dawn grays were interrupted by the hooting of a pair of Barred Owls. I need to hear those soothing calls with all that has been going on these last several months.

The first buck I saw was scarping the ground under “his” limb. He was a decent looking buck. Later this morning, while still-hunting, I saw a back of a deer and quickly identified him as this same buck. The big-boy bedded down while I was watching.

The spike buck was working along a field and I believed the deer was a doe, but at about forty-five yards the rack was observed.  This feller came to about five yards of me. I snapped away with  photos. Later, as he gazed into my eyes, I verbally said, “Hi Pretty Boy” as I motioned him to come to me. The amazing thing about this event was the buck actually took several steps towards me. He was curious. I would see this fellow later following a doe.

Old Jacob and a small Sheepshead Mushroom.

The doe he was following stopped about forty-five yards from me. Unfortunately, for me, I had made a pact this morning to limit all shots to under forty yards. Those who follow these entries should remember the fiasco I was having last year with my eyes and seeing sights properly resulting in ten failed shots. This year I had added a peep sight in place of the primitive ones. Also, I had a pair of glasses made without the bifocal lens. I am feeling somewhat confident, but wished for a clean kill to regain all confidence.  One could call this a “Shot for redemption.”

I saw a number of squirrels as the frost and cool temperatures began warming up. I quit after one to check in on my step-father and mother, before heading home to mow.

I am planning on going out Monday morning for a time. The forecast is calling for the low seventies. That is too warm.

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The target

This morning I went to practice some with my fifty-caliber flintlock named Old Jacob. Some may remember from reading past entries here of how I faced so much difficulty in the last two deer seasons.  I shot ten shots and failed to bring home any meat during last year’s various deer seasons. the year before I shot eight shots. Some of misses were difficult to believe. However, within those eight shots I still harvested three deer. I sensed things were happening with my eyes, but didn’t really seem to grasp how bad my vision had evolved.

I visited the eye doctor and had a  number of tests done. New glasses didn’t seem to help. Gloomy days and low-light conditions of mornings and evenings were hazy. The last years despite new glasses didn’t work. I believe the difficulty was from trying to align two primitive flintlock sights and seeing the target clearly. I think I was subconsciously raising the front end of the flintlock to better see the front sight thus shooting high.

Well, a few things have happened since last deer season. One is that I had primitive peep sites installed on my fifty-caliber.  Secondly, I, once again, went to the eye doctor and received new glasses. Thirdly, I had another pair of glasses made without any bifocal lens. I am hoping for much better shooting.

In July I shot a few rounds with the new sight, but decided to not shoot  until I had the above mentioned glasses bought including the set without bifocals.  However, before acting on the new glasses I had a health issue. I guess I should say I had a potential health issue. Through lab work the doctor discovered a positive reading of potentially that dreaded C-word. I found out definitely in mid-September that the reading was a false reading. I acted on the glasses

My stepfather began having issues and we recently discovered the extent of his health. He does have cancer. As I type this  entry his chemo will begin in less than a week.

I had a day to accomplish some things for the rest of the week is going to be busy. I gathered up my flintlock shooting gear and a cardboard and I left to shoot a few rounds.

The above target has given me some hope The lowest shot was the first one. I adjusted how I used the peep sight and shot a nice group at thirty-five yards. The highest shot was at forty-five yards. these shots were completed without a shooting bench. I could see a slight sway of the front sight. I could use more practice for confidence.

The early muzzleloading season for deer begins on October 19th. Also, the week has Pennsylvania’s first muzzleloading season. The temperatures will determine if I hunt bear or not. Since I will be, most likely, hunting alone I have to think ahead as to how to get any bear out of the woods. The second step is to drive to a bear check station to be determined and then to a butcher while cool temps rule over the area. I don’t want a bear that much to sacrifice the meat if at all possible.

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Old Jacob with his new “peep” sight.

Most of my friends know how I enjoy hunting with the flintlock rifles.  I love the gracious flow of the wood, the character and beauty of the Pennsylvania long rifles of the eighteenth century. The last two flintlock seasons I had not done very well with my shooting abilities. I missed many deer with my flintlocks only tagging two. Last year I did not get any deer. Some of the shots I took traditionally would have been a “down-deer.” Trips to the eye doctor didn’t help despite numerous test on the eyes.  Last summer I contacted specialist about Lasik-surgery. I wasn’t a candidate. A friend suggested peep sights. I could readily see an advantage, but I wasn’t ready to place a more modern style of sight on my traditional rifle named, Old Jacob. Last year’s mishaps eventually forced a discussion with an avid flintlock shooter. (Old Jacob was a custom-made rifle of the Andrew Verner school of gun building. He lived in eastern Pennsylvania and created this style of stock. during the latter part of the seventeen-hundreds.)

I visited a friend, Curt Boal. He is the owner of a black powder shop near Fenelton, Pennsylvania. His shop is: Curt’s Blackpowder Shop. Visit: http://www.curtsblackpowdershop.com

Our discussion led me to decide to do a peep sight mounting. This morning, (April 2019) I picked up Old Jacob and I agreed with him that the sight looked good on the flinter. This peep sight is not a modern-style sight of today, but more in line with something found on an earlier rifle of the nineteenth century. The sight sets close on the barrel. I guess I can live with this. Fact is, I have to live with it or give up shooting and hunting deer.

To compensate for my feelings on this style of sight, I simply tell myself the colonial hunter would have had a peep sight if that knowledge of them would have been available.

Thank you Curt for a fine job!

 

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Two Bucks

I arrived at the hunting site at light. My goal was to spend some time attempting to locate information on the one deer I messed up on yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I find a downed deer or walk upon a deer trying to hide from me.  I would spend approximately three hours still hunting the area. I traveled about three hundred and fifty yards or more in a semi-circle from the last known position of the deer. Due to yesterday’s occurrences I brought “Old Jacob” to the hunt. The .50 caliber rifle with two sights would be the deliverance for me if I had another chance.

I searched rather diligently, I believe, and found no certain detail as to what the deer had done. However, I was sneaking along a very thick area scouring ahead for any possible deer. Suddenly, an explosion erupted from under some dense honeysuckle limbs. Yes, a deer jumped up about ten feet from me. Did I approach with the stealth of an Indian that the deer didn’t know I was present? Was this the injured deer? I still can’t say with any degree of certainty. The deer moved out appearing fine. There was no sign in the deer’s bedding.

While doing this search a nice buck traveled over e ridge and walked by me. Once he spotted me he allowed for about eight photos once as I worked to retrieve my camera from my shoulder bag.

  I walked along a field’s edge and spotted a deer nibbling on tree limbs. I assumed it was a male for such actions are common with a buck. I glassed and saw spike antlers. Three more deer appeared in the field feeding. I stalked a distance that I deemed safe to do so. Suddenly, I could see a deer to my left and closing in. I maneuvered among the pines and realized it was the spike. The buck had turned and due to contours found his way right upon me.

I would see seventeen deer over six hours. A couple of doe came out to me at about fifty yards. I couldn’t shoot for when one stopped the other would  stop directly in front of the other.

I saw some squirrels and heard some turkeys on the roost this fine day afield. The temps were cool and in the thirty degree range in the morning and the winds made setting for more than thirty minutes difficult.

 

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Messed Up!

Jeremiah and sheepshead mushrooms

I met my step father, Bob for some hunting time. We set up in the darkness at two different sites. There was frost in some areas meaning the temperatures had to be around the freezing point. The day was very windy.

Frost

I was watching a doe at around sixty yards. (Two other deer were about ninety yards.) I was wondering if the closest deer would move closer to me. I

Bull Thistle in mid-October

would soon find out… NO! Bob shot at a deer. The doe I was watching stood at attention only to unnerve and run away from me. I went to Bob to find out his flintlock had a hang fire and he began to drop the barrel only to have the sounds of Ka-Boom occur. (A hang fire is when the pan powder goes off followed by the flintlock. The shot is possibly a half second or more after the pan power ignites.)  

We set up a short time to watch for deer and had no luck. Bob moved to a favorite log and I circled to move through thick crabapples and dogwoods.  I spotted the doe at around twenty yards. She was feeding, but all I could see were her back legs and head and neck. Suddenly, she raised her head and gawked directly at me. We eyeballed each other before she turned away not offering me a shot. At around thirty yards she turned and was broadside to me. However, much of her body was behind honeysuckle cover.

I readied the smoothbore and she moved. I knew one more step and I would not be seeing the deer. I hurried the shot and shot over her back. Bob saw her go past.

I was getting warm since the temps reached over fifty degrees and I was thinking of quitting early. (Bob had already left around 10:15.) I was almost to the jeep when I spotted a feeding doe. I stalked her waiting for an opening to shoot. At about thirty yards I shot and hit her brisket area. There was a tree in front. Did I graze the tree causing the ball to drop or did I just move ever so slightly? I need to check out the area to locate the tree. I was disgusted with myself. How did I fail such a shot? I spent just shy of two hours searching for the deer to no avail. Sign was almost non-existent. Once I determined to end the search I quit hunting for the day.                                                                                                      

I saw less squirrels this day and only thirteen deer. I did see three Woodcock and a few turkeys. I found five Sheepshead mushrooms, but didn’t pick any for I already had some in the freezer. I think my next hunt will be the flintlock rifle.

 

 

Hiding rabbit

 

 


 

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Deer Everywhere!

 

Nice bedded buck.

October 16, found my arrival to my parking area a little late. However, my  failure to be on time by fifteen minutes granted some deer sightings in area fields. I Began my trek into the woods around 7:10 A.M.

Fog in the Cherry Run Watershed

I saw a porcupine as I walked up the hill to my planned station for a short while. I had my “wooly bottoms” on for the temperature was in the thirty degree area. Most of the day was fine in regard to the extra warming attire.

As stated I would see over thirty deer sightings  this day.  They were everywhere! Jeremiah, my smoothbore, was anxious to get a shot, but no shots were to be had this day. However, I had some deer to under the forty yard range, but dense vegetation seemed to always be in the way. I believe 98% of the leaves are still on the trees and lowland shrubs. Color isn’t very vivid this year as to date.

In total I would see five buck. The one in the photo included here was in it’s bed. A second one was behind and out of my site until they both raised up to run. I saw a smaller chestnut-colored antlered buck. The rack was nice, but only about twelve to fourteen inches wide. I saw a small spike and a four-point chasing about five doe. Squirrels were all over the place, as well.

 

Interestingly, I found a Black Snake enjoying the sun.

 


 


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2017 Flintlock Season

   The day after Christmas has always been special for me. The Pennsylvania primitive deer hunting season begins. I am a history lover especially of the French and Indian War and the War of Independence. That being said the lure of the flintlock has been an influence with me since my youth.

The weather for this first day was very cold and windy. Snow had arrived for Christmas although we received only about one and half inches. The woods were noisy and sneaking around was not easy.

I spent half a day on this first day of the season. (December 26) I needed to quit around noon to get ready to visit my in-laws for our Christmas get together. This day I was a pusher of deer for my step-father, Bob Miller. He would miss a deer during one of the drives. I saw eighteen deer during those hours with three deer very close. However, as what often happens, bolted just prior to shoot. Once the eyes make contact deer often react quickly. I saw a grouse this day which is something I hadn’t seen in these woods in quite some time. I would see the grouse again on the 27th.

Experimenting with my flintlock sights found much discouragement. Around 7:30, I raised the rifle only to see nothing. In this  lowlight condition my sights appeared very fuzzy and I couldn’t discern the front sight at all until conditions brightened greatly at around 8:30. I even use my old glasses for this problem improves with them. Nighttime vision is worse with car lights and reflective things looking like stars. This has been an issue for me. In fact I have been to eye doctor for tests several times since summer.

The second morning found me at a local game lands around 7:30 A.M. My plan was to sneak around seeking a deer in the brushy areas. However, I realized that the day before had seen many hunters since tracks were everywhere.

Around 9:30 I spotted a deer among grapevines and briars. I raised the flintlock but wasn’t sure of the gender enough to shoot. I looked through my field glasses and could see a bald deer. I raised the flintlock again before lowering it. I raised the third time and shot and missed. The forty plus shot had failed. Off and on I would raise this rifle in varying conditions in attempts to learn how to reshoot and align the sights.

I am seeing shiny “ghost images” of the sight as if I am seeing two sights. Anyone out there experiencing such issues?  Anyone have any thoughts? I am wondering about widening the V-cut in an attempt to make the front sight more visible.

I left this area and went to a favored area to hunt. I spent the day until three o’clock. I saw a total of nineteen deer this day, but failed to get anymore shots. Probably, would have missed anyway.

The weather was single digit with windy conditions. In fact the temperature only reached about 11 degrees for a high. This is not weather for setting on a stand for much time so I walked the entire time afield. Not bad for an old feller!

This morning, December 28, finds me committed in the morning and evening so I decided to not hunt since my time afield wouldn’t be many hours.

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Morning fireball

I walked the dark hours to a predetermined place to watch a field. I could easily see the Big Dipper and Orion in the pre-dawn sky. A frost engulfed everything. This is the first frost of the season.

Just about seven in the morning I could see the forms of two deer entering the field. I believed just by their bulk indicted big male deer. I was correct. They walked just out in front of me and I could see their nice racks despite the early time frame. Eventually the two walked out of site. Three doe entered the field to my left. Unfortunately, I was having difficulty observing them due to goldenrods next to me. I eased up by stretching my neck. Whoa… directly in front of me was a back of a feeding deer. This deer was about thirty-five yards. I got Jeremiah ready for a shot.                                 

This deer fed closer before raising the head. It was a four-point buck. He watched the does and gradually moved away. I remember thinking what great photo opportunity I just lost.  I believe trying to get my camera in position would have been observed.

Anyway, back to the does. I eased up a little to see over the goldenrods and they were still feeding. However, the old doe sensed something amiss with my slight movement. They fed awhile, but she led them away into the woods. My fault completely!

I began moving around and setting occasionally. I saw some more deer but too far for shots.

I crossed the road top circle around to the jeep when I came upon two feeding does. I couldn’t get a shot. I was between the landowner’s home and her hobby building. I know she wouldn’t mind me shooting as long as the shot was safe. I couldn’t shoot. The deer eventually moved off the cross the road I had just came from.

I moved back trying to see if I could waylay them.  I was, once again, crossing the field looking left. I turned right and there was a doe feeding. I was about forty yards and she never saw me! I missed again! How could this be?

   I went off moving around searching for sign of a hit. Nothing at all. I went over the hill where the deer went and saw a doe standing. She was feeding. Could this have been the same deer? I believe it was. With that I decided to head to the jeep.

I set up an old muffler I found in the ditch line and shot. The shot was low. Tomorrow I will be using Old Jacob, my 50 caliber flintlock. I need to check this new sight out on the smoothbore.

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Tuesday, October 16th, was breezy. I went into the area I was planning to watch for deer and settled in to await dawn. I began seeing deer, or I should say deer forms, just prior to seven.

Can you see the bedded deer?

As the dawn grew in intensity I began seeing more deer and much clearer.

Four doe fed in the field towards me, but still moving to my right some. I could see them at about fifty yards or so, when I noticed them looking to my left. More deer were coming into the field. I could see racks on two for sure and would later see four bucks in the field with a single doe. Interestingly, once the buck reached a point just out in front of me, I turned and the four doe were gone. I began taking photos.

 

 

 

 

    Three of bucks moved ahead and gradually worked downslope to the woods. The fourth buck went back the way they came. The doe began  to walk along the field’s edge exactly where I wanted her to go. She walk past at about thirty yards and I didn’t shoot. The doe was a young one and, at this time, I was hoping to get a bigger deer. All of this lasted until 8:55 A.M. What a morning watching all this action.

I began still hunting when I walked upon a bedded doe. This deer was about ten yards from me and holding tight. This doe was a small one, too. In fact, she may have been the one I passed on earlier. I took a couple of pics before she bolted. I would see her again at about 15 yards.

The noon hour was upon me and I started a trek diagonally on a gas well road. I spotted a mid-sized deer feeding up the slope along an old right-a-way cut. This cut has goldenrods and grasses and is almost grown shut with tree limbs. I began stalking her with success. Bad luck was about to occur. I heard someone driving on the road behind me. I motioned and the driver stopped. I waited for the deer to turn broadside or quartering away.  I shot and missed! The doe looked up but away from me and began walking away.  Was it human error or my new sight?  I know I sometimes fail to place my cheek tight on the stock allowing for the front sight to shoot high. I may need to explain what firearm I am using. This is a French fowling piece common in the late 18th century. I named the 62 caliber (20 gauge) smoothbore, Jeremiah, in honor of an ancient Jewish prophet. The barrel has no rifling, so accuracy is not that great. I try to limit shots to under forty yards if possible. I can shoot lead shot for turkeys and other small game if desired.            

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