I changed jobs in October and having no vacation time and a long commute (get up for work at 5am and get home about 5:30pm) has cramped my hunting schedule this year. Now that I'm in Northern Virginia full time (I've hunted in PA the last few years almost exclusively) I also have to find new hunting grounds...luckily a friend came to the rescue and I got a chance to hunt 600 acres of prime cattle grazing land in the foothills of the shenandoah's in Fauquier County Virginia just south and East of Sky Meadow's state park last Saturday afternoon (29th)
I didn't know what the landscape was so I thought I'd be prepared to push the brush and brought my Marlin 336 (30-30 win) with bushnell banner 1-4x scope (4.3in of eye relief) mounted on top. It's not the best scope for low light conditions -- I was missing my leupold at 4pm...upgrade opportunity for next year.
There were about 6 of us spread out over the property. I was on a fenceline about half way down the side of a hill that T'd into the treeline bordering the fields. The fenceline ran around the hill and I had a nice tree next to me to break up my outline. My sight line down hill (looking downhill to the right as I face the woods) was open up to about 250 yards, at the bottom of the hill ran a stream that wound down over the ridge in the trees behind me. Beyond this stream were a breif stand of trees before opening up into another pasture with a barrel stand on top of that hill about 600 yards away.
Uphill to my left (as I face the woods) I had about 200 yards of open field and then trees up on the hill above that with the hill cresting around 165 yards before it rose again in the trees above.
We got there about 1:30pm and I glasses the woods uphill to my left, in front of me and beyond the stream below me to my right all afternoon. I would check each of the fields as I went through my progression as well. I had a nice pile of rocks up agains the tree that gave me a nice place to sit (on my pad) and the tree could offer a nice place for to steady my hand should I need to make a shot.
About 3pm I see three doe making their way down through the trees with my binos, being very cautious. However they were in pretty heavy brush so I waited to see if they would go down the other side of the ridge in the woods ahead of me and come out at the draw (stream) below and to the right. However it seems they hit the fenceline in the woods and went another path up the far hill that I couldn't see...they never came out in the trees or field below me...
around 3:40 pm I notice a small doe poking around the hill above to the left of me near the tree-line just as the hill crests. Very small doe, yearling. Maybe her mommy will come out in a few minutes...I decide to wait and see what the end of the day brings instead...
4pm...light is gettin dim with a cloudy sky, by 5pm it will be hard to track blood so I decide that maybe the little doe isn't a bad option as nothing else has decided to go for a walk in my area...
I'm using LeverRevolution ammo from Hornady which groups about 1.5" at 100 yards (compared to about 3" for normal flat-tipped bullets--I've done the test at the range and I really like these). I zeroed the 336 in at 200 yards so my drop at 300 is about -12" and at 100 +4"...I didn't bring the rangefinder so I estimated somewhere inbetween 150 and 200 yards...so 2" high to 0" high shooting slightly uphill. Doe was quartering away from me (maybe eighthing away...
) so I put the crosshairs (light is dim by now) about 3-4" behing her left front leg and right where I want to aim...slow breath in, breath out slowly, relax, send it...off she scampers looking a little shaken straight away from me over the crest of the hill towards the far woodline.
I give her 15 minutes and look to see if anything its going to spook in the woods ahead of me or to investigate...nothing does.
I go up hill and take about 165 steps to where she was standing and find a nice blood trail. About 60 yards away just in the woods on the other side of the crest I find her laying down in a small copse of fallen branches. The Levrevoulution went in a little to the right of my aim point and right about where I was aiming vertically and exited about 2" behind the far leg...about a 1" dia hole taking out the same size piece of rib in the process. Both lungs are just a bloody mess after dressing her out, don't get a good look at the heart as my friends show up as it is getting dark and we need to dress three more deer in the woods in the hill beyond his kids had taken earlier in the afternoon (a big doe in the bunch!).
But, I have a very nice deer veal hanging ready for us to process tonight. Looks like I might be able to run out on Saturday for another chance at a 10-point my buddy saw that afternoon as well. There is just a plain herd of deer on that property...they have taken over 15 doe and two good sized bucks between 5 people and the pastures are covered with several groups of 5-10 doe at night...thick with deer.
Next time I'll bring the Tikka (308 win with better glass - VariX-III) unless I decide to push brush on Saturday...I have sight-lines of up to 500-600 yards so the area is suited better to the tikka if I don't walk the woods.
Hope you all are having a great new year! So much for my long range 30-30 shot on miniature deer! But something is better than nothing and it should make for some tender eating!
Sorry for no pics...I will try to get some tonight after I get home--I didn't take pics during the hunt as my hand were a mess after dressing two of the four deer in the dark that night.