FOR SALE: Winchester SXP 12 gauge for cheap. OK condition except for the obviously bent barrel and a little rust from excessively salty tears. Accuracy issues have been tested and found by point blank firing multiple 00 buck loads at the broad side of barn without success.
After a solid day of stewing and feeling really sorry for myself I can only come to one conclusion. That I suck. Driftin' was a little prophetic with this "schooling" remark. I just didn't get schooled, I got detention, sent to the HeadMasters office and ended up with a ruler across the knuckles.
Todd took a real nice animal on Sunday, so yesterday was my day to get it done. We agreed to hunt the smaller property Monday am and that I would set up in the prime real estate. Todd would be the driver. This is a pretty steep and heavily forested area. Classic BT country with lots of big timber, alder stands, cedar and swamp bottoms. 2 weekends ago Todd jumped a STUD down in our main gulley that drops into a heavily protected cedar bottom and swamp and couldn't get a shot off in time. This STUD has tore up the whole bottom and was sure to return to his stomping grounds looking for his ladies and continued security. So let's go get him.
I generally like to get in very early, set-up and shut-up. Being that this is a really dark and thick area, Todd convinced me that we should wait for enough light to make our approach. I reluctantly agreed to hold off for a bit before getting into position. Standing at the forest's edge above the gulley, I waited for enough light and slowly started my approach into the hollow. Todd would circle around downhill several hundred yards and try to push everything into my zone of certain death. With some fresh rain softening the forest floor, I easly made my best approach of the year and got into position. It's all good and I felt really solid about the set-up. The wind was coming up from the bottom of the gulley and directly into my face. Todd was coming from another direction and if anything in the county was in the area...it would flush straight up to me.
Let's do this!
So there is a small bench above the gulley that holds a very old and large nurse cedar that has been down for some time. This spot is perfect to popping a squat and posting up. Leading directely into the cedar log is a game trail that is all tore up. Rubs, rubs and more rubs. Heavy traffic and lots of really fresh turdlettes. They all seem to stop about 15 yards from the cedar. Perfect. So I get to the cedar and had two choices. Sit above the cedar for a better view of the bottom but longer shot or sit below the cedar and have a better chance of reaching the backside of the bottom. So I chose to sit below the cedar and it made for a nice comfortable backrest. I knew I would only get about 1.5 hours before Todd showed himself on the far side of the gulley. After a bit, I got a little tired and took a mini nap. Just one of those 1 - 2 minutes doze offs. I woke up to Todd across the gulley waving at me like "dude, wake the F' up!". I motion to Todd that I see him and he takes off down further in the swamp bottom away from my gulley. 15 minutes pass and I'm thinking that he's already as far as he can take it and yet nothing has been jumped. Ok - it's not going to happen this morning. I tell myself to sit just a little bit longer and I do. I also fall asleep again. Maybe a minute to two passes and I'm off in dreamland. A voice in my head yells "what are you doing! Wake up!" and I do. Through my sleepy eyes, I look around for Todd and he's nowhere to be found. I look for any animals in the bottom and nothing. Nothing. Nothing and nothing. OK - fine.
In my sleepy haze I then I did worst possible thing I could have done. Without thinking, I stood up, slung my shotty over my shoulder and turned around to walk out.
Staring at me point blank (like literal face punching distance) was the big STUD standing on the other side of the downed cedar. He was standing above my head looking down at the top of my head. His eyes went wide. My eyes went wide. He turned and bolted back up his trail. He ran 10 yards, cut off trail and crossed the gulley. I scrambled to unsling shotty, bring it up and slam off the safety. He gave me (3) running side shots inside of 30 yards and I missed. on. every. last. one. With 00 buck. Not a bullet, not a slug. 00. All 27 of them. WHIFF!
He crossed the gulley, turned around at the top hill and gave me a solid look as if to say "that's right buddy. You just got schooled by the headmaster in my classroom you little punk bitch". That mofo snuck in from behind, downwind and going the wrong direction. Sneaky. Headmaster Grey Ghost indeed!
Todd felt I would have been better off just two hand chucking my gun at his face and hoping for a straight knock out. I am inclined to agree.
I never miss. I just don't. I've only ever missed one big game animal in my life and that was a single shot 350 yard poke on a cow elk before she made the timber when I was 15 years old.
Stam and others warned me a few years ago to not take up BT hunting if I liked my sanity. If I liked my previous record. Hell, even if I just kinda sorta liked myself...don't do it! I never listen.
So in the end, I told Todd that I didn't hunt yesterday. I went successful firewood cutting with a shotty. Tagged myself 6 cords of split wood that will burn my fires hot and strong all winter long or until my late season redemption tour.
Nobody said it was ever going to be easy, but I'll swallow my pride, take the snarks and giggles and I'll be back to suck again another day. The end.
PS. Congrats to my hunting partner for not sucking and for pulling his weight.