Well, our hunting seasons are in full swing and some amazing game tallies are coming out of a lot of states. Illinois had their first weekend of deer season last weekend and they took an amazing 59,000 deer during that two days. Ohio, on their opening day of deer season took 13,600 deer and that was one day. And they still have several days of the season left. Maine had the best deer season in 15 years, taking 30,299 deer. And they still have their black powder season to go. I donít know the totals out here in the west but some monster mule deer have been taken.
Years ago (hell, I could say decades ago) I lived in the county in Tennessee that had the biggest amount of deer taken in the state. On opening day it was normal to have over 8000 deer taken in that one county. I lived in the middle of 15,000 acres of dense Tennessee hardwoods and it was not unusual to go sit down with my back to some thick brush with the rising sun at my back and take 2 deer in one morning. And that was using a Contender in 30 Herrett.
On one occasion I walked out of some thick cedars into the edge of an old volunteer corn field that came up on itís own every year and had a small herd of deer grazing not 65 yards in front of me with a few as close as 20 yards. I was hunting with one of my 41 Auto Mags so I had 7 rounds at my disposal. The deer hadnít noticed me as I was still hidden in the edge of the cedar thicket. I was really trying to fill up the freezer so I picked out a small spike at about 20 yards from me and took the shot. At the shot that hit him on the point of shoulder, he dropped like a rock. The herd scattered like a covey of quail, two young bucks trotted my way. Being young and dumb and not thinking about how long it would take me to skin out and butcher more than one deer but knowing the legal limit at the time was 4 deer, I took a shot at the closest one hitting him center chest and dropping him. The others were still milling around as the volunteer corn field was in a small depression with a small pond at the back of it, a perfect place for deer. But being in that depression the shot echoed back and forth, confusing the deer. Another small spike was trotting in a small circle confused. As he passed me at maybe 20 yards, I took a shot at him. He staggered a bit and then fell. As he did I saw a small spike behind him fall too. Now finally some common sense dawned on me. I had taken the legal limit, 4 deer in about 30 seconds. And the farthest shot was maybe 25 yards. I put a fresh magazine in the Auto Mag and walked out into the field. Amazingly there were still a few deer at the edge of the field maybe 75 yards away. Seeing me they felt it might be better to get the hell away from this maniac.
I walked up on the first little buck and he was dead. The second buck was maybe 10 yards from him so I walked over and checked him. He too was dead. I walked over to the third deer and he was breathing his last. I had pulled the shot and hit him just back of his jawbone but hitting the spine. I waited a bit to make sure he was dead and didnít need a mercy shot and as I was watching him I noticed some movement off to my side. I looked and the 4th deer, a real small spike was slowly walking away, shaking his head. Now normally a small deer wouldnít walk away from a hit from the 41 Auto Mag, pretty much like my 41 GNR in power. That would be like walking away from a lightning strike. But I hate wounding something and letting them get away so I started walking over to where he had fallen to see if I could tell where I had hit him. Bright frothy blood means a lung shot. Bright red blood a muscle shot and dark red is normally a liver shot. Blood with green fluid in it meant the dreaded gut shot. No blood at all means I just plain missed.
I walked to the scuffed up spot where he fell and started looking for blood sign. I found nothing. I got down on my hands and knees looking for any sign. Then I saw it. The little guy had about 6 inches of horn showing and I found almost 4 inches of it lying where he fell. The bullet from the neck shot deer had gone all the way thru him, veering off a bit after hitting the spine and hitting the little buck in the horn, maybe an inch or 2 up from the base of the horn. That was why he was shaking his head when he staggered off. He would have a helluva headache the next day and a great story to tell his buddies but other than that he would be fine. And I realized the work I had ahead of me skinning and butchering 3 full grown whitetail deer. My wife reminded me of that day every time I went out deer hunting after that. She would say ďONEí. I would smile and hold up one finger. In most cases she would hold up one finger too, just a different finger.
On the subject of hunting, I am really looking forward to next April and our next Africa hunt. Now on this one I will not be going on the hunt. Colleen will be taking my place. She is a hunter too and has been to Africa with me before, so she will have a ball in Africa. The last time she was there with me the local game rangers came by our camp and asked us to go about 10 miles away and thin out some monkeys. The monkey is not the cute little animal you see in the movies. He is a vicious little shit with 2Ē fangs and wonít hesitate to take a plug out of you if he has the chance. The Game Rangers said the monkeys were going into the village and attacking people in the village. So we said sure and drove over to the village. The village was a small one maybe 25 round shacks. They have no electricity at all and live as they did 500 years ago. We picked up a young kid maybe 10 years old to show us where the monkeys were hanging out. As he got in the back of the Land Cruiser, we all almost gagged, he stunk so bad. The village people never take a bath. They donít have running water and there is the danger of Crocs in the local river so at best they take a small jug of water and take a little whore bath. But this little guy was rank. John, the PH, had him sit in the very back of the truck and when we got to where the monkeys were it was only about a mile from the village so John gave him a couple of sandwiches and a couple of those little half size Coke cans. He was happy and ran off to show his booty.
We started walking toward where we could see monkeys jumping from limb to limb and chattering obscenities at us in Monkey talk. We had Ruger 77/22s in 22 Magnum (this was way back when you could still bring rimfires to Africa). The Game Rangers had asked us to shoot 25 or so of them. We decided to keep our shots to the largest oldest monkeys, not really wanting to cull out some young ones. Kase, Colleen and I all walked toward the trees from different directions. We soon got to well within range of them but had to wait until they stopped for a shot. Kase and I dropped 8 or 10 each and I kept hearing Colleen shooting and a pause as she changed magazines. We had loaded 3 mags each knowing there would be a lot of monkeys. I kept hearing her shoot and then pause to change mags, then pause while she was obviously loading up her magazines. I walked over to check on here, figuring with all the shooting she must have missed quite a few of them. When I got there it looked like the Custer Battlefield with bodies lying in every direction. She kept saying ďI need more ammo, do you have any on you?Ē I reminded her that they said to cull out 25 or so and she had that many herself. So it was a good day, not for the monkeys, but a good day for us. We talked to John the PH later after the Game Rangers came and took the dead monkeys away and tested them and well over half of them were HIV positive. So maybe we saved a life or two that day.
When we decided that Colleen was going to take the next group over to Africa she asked me if they had any monkeys in that area. I told her to ask John.
On another hunt in í95 I was over there with good friend Dave Martin, who has now passed away and John said the Game Rangers had asked him to have his hunters come to a new area that had not been hunted in over 60 years. They wanted us to cull out 50 Blesbok and 50 Impala. They wanted us to take out any old cripples, one horned animals or any old barren cows. The catch was we had to take head shots. This was so the villagers could use the meat and they would tan the hides to sell at their local open air market. At first I thought they would be easy but found out real quick it wasnít at all. John drove his Land Cruiser, one of the older ones that the windshield laid flat on the hood in front of us. The animals were skittish and would run when we got within 100 yards of them if John just drove up slow and easy for me to get the animal in my scope for a shot. Finally after striking out we decided to try another way of doing it. He put a couple of sand bags on the windshield in front of me and gave me his 270 rifle and several boxes of ammo. He would drive fast into a group of them and as they scattered some would stop to look back. John would scan them with his binocs and tell me which ones to shoot. After about 10 animals were down the Game Rangers would drive in and pick them up in a truck and take them back to a skinning shed to skin and gut them.
At noon we came back to the shed to eat our lunch under some big trees. I walked over to the skinning shed to see what was going on. The main man said the word had gotten out that a group of hunters would be in the area that day and at dawn about 20 village women from the local village were already there with their baskets on their heads waiting for the meat to come in. If a group of hunters didnít come into the area to hunt they might not get any meat for a year or more, so they were anxious to see us. What the men would do was hang the animals up, gut them and pull the guts out all in one large bundle and put the gut pile on one of the flatbed trucks. After the bed got full of gut piles they would motion to the women from the village and they would come to the flat bed truck and pick out a gut pile and put it in their basket and walk back to the village. In their round huts they would put the gut piles on a metal mesh over a fire and let it cook until it was black,. Then the men would sit around the cooked gut pile and cut off what part they wanted. Now the stomach still had grass in it but they cooked that too, sorta like a vegetable to go with the heart, lungs, liver and so on. Once the men fed, the women would come up and eat, then the children, until every bite was gone. Nothing was wasted. I videoíd the skinning, gutting and the women picking out the best gut pile and taking it home to show folks back in the states that in Africa nothing was wasted. Even the large shoulder bones would be dried out and the local men would carve little animals and little flowers and such to sell at the open air market to any tourists that happened by. The rest of the bones went to their dogs. I have shown that video to hundreds of people that thought hunters went to Africa and just shot animals and let them lie.
So the next African hunt is in April of next year and Colleen has 12 hunters joining her for the hunt. It will be a great time for all. The next year in 2020, good Lord willing, I will take the next group over. I normally try to have 12 hunters in each group as that is what the camp will hold comfortably. One or two over that amount is no problem either as long as the one or two are hunting wives to share a room with their husbands. I already have 4 or 5 people that said they wanted me to put them on the list for 2020. So if you would like to join us, that gives you around 8 months to decide and about 16 months or so before the next hunt in April of 2020. An African hunt is not super expensive as most folks think. You can go to Africa and spend a whole week there hunting and take 3 or 4 plains game animals for about $7500 plus your airfare. That is less than you would spend coming out here from back east for a guided elk hunt. And even if you didnít see an elk you would still be out about $10,000 minimum on a guided hunt. In Africa you only pay for what you shoot. I have been to Africa now 14 times and canít wait for the next hunt. If you would like to join us for Africa in April of 2020, get with me and I can give you more info on it.
Thatís it for this time. Until next month as we wind up 2018, if you go shooting or hunting, take a youngster or a lady hunter with you. They are our future.