The rain pattered on the Toyota's windshield, and I felt lucky that I had “Gore-Texed” before leaving the camp. At least I wouldn't have to dress in the rain or, worse, in the Toyota.
But by the time I got to the gate at our Sharkey Road lease, the rain had quit. I quickly unloaded the Big Bear, got my “stuff” and started down the wet gumbo road to a stand. Being sure that a better-than-average chance of a better-than-average rain was approaching, I got in the “slide stand,” an outhouse-type dwelling at ground level on a soybean field.
Have mercy, I didn't think Friday morning would ever come, as darkness lingered. I would not see a deer until nearly 8 a.m. But things picked up quickly upon my first deer sighting. A doe ran into the field I was guarding, followed by a second deer.
The big 10X50 binoculars revealed the second deer to be a small buck. “Half hamburger-half sausage” was my thought picture as I could see that deer hanging at the camp.
At what would be a long shot, the two deer stopped in the wide-open soybean field and mated. I had never seen this in all my days afield. After this whoopee I had my rifle out the window, and, at 9X on my scope, I was wondering about the shot.
Developing a shooting solution, my collected data indicated a “top of shoulder” hold with the crosshairs. Still gathering data for a stationary broadside shot, a glitch occurred.
Out of the corner of my right eye I saw another deer at the woodline. This was a bigger buck, my naked eyes revealed. New shooting solution! This deer was at a fast walk or trot, coming straight to me. As the new information was being processed, I quickly went into a manual mode with my primary thought being, “He's fixin' to run literally right in front of or behind me.”
With new shooting solution data streaming in, I toggled to an automatic manual mode. At about 50 to 60 yards, this deer appeared to want to go into the field, but stopped, looking straight at the stand. I squeezed the trigger on the Model 70, causing the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum to send its 230-grain payload down range.
Now a .375 H&H is a big cartridge, designed and put into production around 1912 for use almost exclusively on big game in Africa. You know, elephants, Cape buffalo, hippos, lions and things that might have you on their menu. Still today it is the very minimum for legally hunting big game animals in most of Africa.
The bullets, therefore, are heavily constructed for such animals. Too heavy for white tail deer, even in its lightest bullet weights.
I called myself shooting the deer right in the middle of the chest. Didn't even knock him down. Instead, he loped off into the woods. I was just beside myself, for out in those woods were palmetto, bears, and water. I'm talkin' bunches of 'em.
I knew the deer was hit and probably wouldn't go far. But where?
Then it happened, the slow drizzle of rain turned into rain pelting the tin roof. If there was one drop of blood, it wouldn't last long. Before I could get out of the stand, the “bottom fell out.”
I could not find where the deer was standing at the shot. Deer tracks were starting to fill up with water. I “guesstimated” the location, marked it and headed into the palmetto-infested timber.
I was pretty sure I couldn't just walk up on the deer, but I felt sure I would find him shortly. After 30 or so minutes I called Mike (May), my hunting buddy, and confessed my situation. “Give me about an hour and meet me at the gate,” was the gist of our conversation. I looked some more for the deer. By now I was wet, from sweat or rain, I didn't know which.
I met Mike at the gate and back to the scene we went. After about 45 minutes of tracking, Mike found the “half sausage-half hamburger” six point. The deer's last step was approximately 50 yards into the palmetto-infested water. I just knew a local black bear would stumble up on my supper. Reckon it's better to be born lucky than rich.
I used too much gun on that hunt, but now it has a story. Lots of people have never seen a rifle chambered in such a mighty grand old caliber as the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, much less shot one. But now I have a story to go along with my rifle and the six point trophy.