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Muzzleloader Deer Hunt

Muzzleloader Deer Hunt

When I returned shortly after sunrise the next morning, my jaw dropped. The deer was gone. No drag marks, no chewed remains from coyotes. It was simply gone.

ne large pad print of a bear told the story of what happened to the author's hard-earned doe.
One large pad print of a bear told the story of what happened to the author’s hard-earned doe.

Chillingly, it dawned on me what had happened. There was no other explanation. A bear had taken the deer. A shudder went up my spine when I conjured the image of a 300- to 400-pound bear calmly snatching up the doe in its jaws like we might casually grab an apple as we pass a bowl of fruit sitting on a table, and then lumbering up the mountain as the deer’s limbs dragged limply on the ground.

Examining the area more carefully, I made out a single footprint of a bruin. The pad measured 6 inches across: a massive 7-foot bear, likely 400 pounds-plus!

This is the bear the author believes "stole" his field-dressed doe. He saw it during spring, but never during hunting season.
This is the bear the author believes “stole” his field-dressed doe. He saw it during spring, but never during hunting season.

I searched far and wide looking for the deer or what might remain of it that day and the next, with no luck. I watched the skies for buzzards or alert crows that might home in on the doe’s remains. Nothing. The buzzards I did see were high in the sky, searching without focus. No crows were around.

As I continued to search, wandering through some dense, thick cover, the hair bristled on the back of my neck. What if I did find the bear, or stumbled upon him 10 yards away in a thicket munching on my doe? How would he react? What would I do?

Eventually, not knowing which direction he might have headed, I gave up the search. There would likely be little left of the doe, anyway.

It was a hard lesson learned. The next deer, I vowed, was coming out with me, even if it was midnight when we made it out of the woods!

Postscript: Not only did I drag my next whitetail out the same evening I shot it, as a precaution, I wired it to the 20-foot extension ladder behind my house where I hang deer. If the bear could drag that 150-pound, 8-point buck, along with the ladder up into the woods, well, I guess he’d get that one, too. Click Here…

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