My grandpa passed away a few years before I was old enough to hunt, but he left me all of his guns. I don’t know if he ever got to hunt with this Ithaca 16 gauge model 37 “featherweight”. It has a long, smoothbore barrel and it kicks harder than any other weapon I own.
I have been hunting his old farm, where my parents now live, for the last 41 years. The hunting over there had been rather poor, most of that time, as it had been overrun with tresspassers, and lacking in deer. I may have taken 3-4 thru the lean years.
The situation over there improved markedly, about (6) years ago, when an energetic neighbor bought the overgrown field behind my parent’s woods. He posted and patrols it aggressively, driving out all the “aborigins” (folks I don’t know).
We usually go up to our in-laws place in the Adirondacks over the long Thanksgiving weekend, but it was our turn to host my immediate family that year. My wife made the best meal ever, stuffing a turkey with a button buck roast for me. That little buck was also taken that year from my new cherry tree blind on grandpas old farm.
I had passed up a four pointer over there, in my “opening day”, swamp-edge, small, uncomfortable hang-on stand, and again later that day from my plot-edge cherry tree blind. Thanksgiving morning, I didn’t see anything in a short, pre-feast hunt back behind our house, nor did I see anything at home that evening or the following morning.
Later that afternoon, I drove back over to my parents place (We had decided to delay our trip up to the in-laws in the Adirondacks until the following weekend). I wiped some Evercalm on my boots, and walked thru the woods to my cherry tree blind.
There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and steady but light snow falling. I had brought grandpas old gun, because I didn’t expect to need the extended range of my scoped Marlin 512 from that stand.
Ive always been a real stickler for “the rules” and have always unloaded my gun at the second of sundown. I always looked that time up for the local area, which is especially easy now, with smart phones. This was the first year that we were allowed to hunt until 30 minutes past sunset.
Visibility was still pretty good, at 5 minutes past sunset with the snow cover, when I saw a deer moving steadily thru the back of the woods. Unlike previous years, my gun was still loaded.
As the deer got closer, the large, light-colored rack soon indicated that he was a “shooter” (3 or more points on a side or definite 2.5 yr plus for me during the first half of the seasons) so I got ready for a shot.
I stopped loooking at his antlers and concentrated on his shoulder area. When he reached the trail I had walked in, he stopped and stood still with his head behind one big tree and his back end behind another.
He must have been stopped by the smell of the Evercalm that I had wiped on my boots. Fortunately, he stood still for several seconds because I had to wipe the snow out of my ancient 1.5 Weaver scope with my glove.
I held the crosshairs as close to the front tree as I dared, and squeezed off a shot. He “mule kicked” and bolted off into the very heavy cover, towards the swamp in the back of the woods. I let loose with another running shot or two, until he disappeared. That old Ithaca cycles smoother than any other deer gun I have used.
My parents heard the shots and called to see if I got one. I replied that I probably did, and asked them to bring back the side by side and a flashlight.
I got down and walked over to where I last saw the buck. There was enough blood on the tracks to make for a fairly easy, 50 or so yard, blood trail and recovery.
I would have got a shoulder mount of this deer, had I killed him before the rut, and he still had all 11 of his original antler points. An 11 pointer is the only one that I’m missing in my collection of 6-12. I had no need another “9”, and I saved some cash with a “free” power-washer euro.
This one even saved me the 16 gauge Remington slugger that got him. It got stopped by his hide on the way out, and fell out while I was skinning him. That autopsy showed that my parting shot(s) were clean missed.
I thought about melting that slug down for bucktail jigs, but decided to press it back into one of the empties instead, for an “antler ornament”. His lower jaw hangs on the other side.
There was a lot of meat on that one, and he had a belly full of corn when I gutted him. We just finished the last pack of grind a few days ago, and still have 2-3 vacuum sealed butt roasts from him left in the freezer.