I just want to share an experience with folks concerning deer hunting on Kodiak this year. Three of us just spent last week (Oct 27-Nov 2) hunting deer on the Northwest side of the island last week. As per ADF&Gís cautions, there were fewer deer than we have seen in previous years (this was the fourth year in-a-row that I have hunted the area). Also, the bears where out and about more and seemed to be a little bolder than we have seen in the past. We were told that the berry crops had pretty much failed, which makes the bears more desperate to find anther food source to get into condition to make it through the winter. To top it off we got hammered with some wind and rain.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed our week and one guy did manage to get two nice bucks. It was during our last day of hunting that the following occurred.
When Friday came the temperature had finally dropped enough so that we got snow almost down to the lake. We hiked up into the hills and were able to find some really fresh deer tracks. As the day wore on, we ran into several bears and finally decided to start working our way back to the cabin. It turned out that a group of does and a buck crossed our path around 2:30. It happened pretty fast and they were something like 100-125 yards away as they slowly trotted past. I dropped to one knee, shot and hit one doe. One of the other guys dropped the buck. When we went over, the buck was down but the doe had run off. There was a good blood trail and it looked like arterial spray on the snow with each step. I figured that the deer wouldnít go too far before it slowed down and either died or laid down so that I could finish it off. I told the other two guys to get started on the buck and that I work on finding the doe. It was still snowing so it was easy to see just how fresh the tracks were. The blood trail went about 150-200 yards down the hill along a path of least resistance. Then the deer abruptly took a hard left turn and crashed through the brush. There was blood smeared all over the brush where it squeezed through. I thought that I might be pushing the doe, so I hunkered down and waited another 5 minutes. I got into the brush and stepped to the blood trail. But the deer tracks had been joined by more tracks. It took me a second to realize that I was looking at bear tracks right on top of the deerís tracks. For a few seconds I crouched there wondering what to do. Yep, I know, pretty darn stupid. So I did the only thing that I could do, got the heck out of Dodge and left the deer to the bear. When I got out of the brush I saw how the bear had been moving up the hill as the deer and I headed down. I think the deer smelled, heard, or saw the bear and then took the detour into the brush. I went back up to my buddies, helped them cut up the buck and we all made our way back to the lake.
Why am I bothering you with all this? Well as I look back on it I realize
1) How lucky I was,
2) It could have turned into a really horrible situation,
3) Even though I have more than a few years experience hunting up here, if I hadnít had the fresh snow to see what was happening, I probably would have walked right into a nightmare, and
4) As one of my buddies said, it was a good thing that the deer hadnít dropped 100 or 200 yards down the hill. Because if it had, I would have most likely been cutting it up by myself while the other two worked on the buck. In this case the bear could have come on me as I was hunkered down over the deer.
I want to use this experience to slow myself down, check my ego (you know, the hell I know just what Iím doing and can take care of myself mindset), and think about the next time. I hope that Iíll be more apt to keep a partner with me as a back up and second set of eyes. If I end up in a situation with more than one deer down, I hope Iíll take the time to move them together so that my partners and I can all work together. And I should take more time taking a shot. To be truthful, if it hadnít been the last day and I wasnít frustrated over not getting a shot at a deer yet, I probably wouldnít have taken that snap shot at the doe.
So please be careful out there and stay together. Iím going to try to do better as I think I just might have used up a bunch of my luck this year.