Yes, I know some of you took your first deer when you were 10, and have shot so many you stopped counting decades ago...
But I grew up in the south of England where (at least among my families social circle) owning a shotgun was highly unusual and a rifle almost unheard of. So I had to wait till I moved to the USA 5 years ago to learn to shoot and start hunting.
Anyway, some of you who commented on the threads I started as I prepared for this year's deer seasons
had asked me "how things went?", so I thought I'd relate my first successful deer hunting year in Iowa.
After getting a "new" slug barrel for the family 20 gauge, I bought a tag for the 2nd Iowa shotgun season (Dec 10 -18th). Went out 3 times with friends. Saw several deer but didn't take a shot. One popped its head out of thick brush barely 10 yards from me, and I just wasn't ready, and it turned and disappeared back into the undergrowth. Another crossed a field into the woods where I was sitting maybe 60 yards behind me, but unfortunately between me and the road, which had several buildings along it, and from the angle I was at I just couldn't see a safe shot. The others were all probably out of shotgun range, and certainly out of range of a 20 gauge with iron sights and a very inexperienced hunter.
So I bought a tag for the January "antler-less" only season. Now virtually all gun hunting in Iowa is "Shotgun only". The only exception is the January "doe season" and then only in the Southern 2 tiers of counties (along the Missouri border and 1 county up from there). Fortunately for me, I live next to those counties, and I have a friend with land in 1 of them. So I was invited to rifle hunt the January season.
I was going to use my only centerfire rifle, my Milsurp Turkish Mauser that I've just fitted with Mojo peep sights. But we spent New Years with relatives in northern Iowa, and I got talking hunting with them - and ended up being lent a rifle. A DPMS LR-308 with a 4-15 x 44mm scope...
Not my first choice as a hunting rifle, but it had a $200 scope on it, so I wasn't going to say no.
So, after 2 range trips and c. 50 rds of .308 getting it sighted in, I took it out. No luck first 2 trips, but 2 weekends ago I went out Sunday afternoon.
I was sitting at the bottom of a valley, with a large field in front of me, scrubby trees and brush across the fenceline to my left and thick woodland to my right, with about 250 yards of pasture between. We were expecting several groups of deer to cross, left to right, around dusk. I'd been asked to let the first group cross right over, as we had a shooter in the trees on the other side - unless they spooked and ran backwards, in which case I might as well take a shot.
Which is exactly what happened. Around 5:10pm. 5 deer jumped the fence and started walking across the center of the field. About halfway across, directly in front of me, they saw, heard or smelt something and stopped dead in a cluster. Unfortunately, at that point they were directly behind 2 trees in the center of the field! Then they started back - not running, but clearly alarmed- tails up, jog 10- 20 yards, look round, jog on. I followed them in my scope, hoping they might change my minds, but when the first 2 jumped the fence I realised it was "now or never". By this point all my plans to try to find the biggest doe in the group had vanished from my mind. I just pulled the crosshairs onto the deer closest to them and followed it. About 10 yards from the fenceline, it stopped and looked back. I centered the scope, held my breath and squeezed the trigger...
It ran on and jumped the fence and I lost sight of it. To be honest, I thought I'd missed - I don't have that much confidence in my shooting abilities. So 45 minutes later when i was searching the area with a flashlight, looking for signs I'd hit it, i was feeling rather glum. Then my friend - who'd been up the hill on the other side of the valley joined me with the words "have you found it yet?" "So you think I hit it?" "I'm sure you did- I saw it cross the fence and it was behaving very strangely".
10 seconds later I saw blood on the snow.
Its just as well K had seen which way it went after I lost sight of it, because since I shot it the fog had come down and 6pm that night might as well have been midnight. If he hadn't known the general area to look it might have taken us an hour to find, following the blood trail by flashlight. Even though it only went about 70 yards.
Turned out I'd hit it exactly where I'd aimed. Not a textbook perfect shot - it could have been a little further forward - but it went straight thru both lungs. A small button buck - not much meat, but should be tender.
Anyways, far more detail than most of you are interested in, but I can't help being a little over-excited - still!