Hereís to hunting on a picture-perfect evening
Tuna were only 20 miles off the coastline near Eureka this past week. Tuna fishers should check in with your finest tackle shop and get the latest skinny on how to rig for albacore. Jed Douglas was at Deer Camp last weekend, and he contributed both fresh and smoked tuna, fresh and smoked salmon and a very fine handmade ale that was not too hoppy, smooth and deep flavored.
Tim, the man, made two huge batches of Buffalo wings, the perfect counterpoint to the ale. Saturday dinner at Deer Camp was grilled corn done Mexican style, grilled salmon and tuna, Caesar salad and some great local wines.
Tim’s brother, Ben, made a treacherous drive up from San Francisco on Saturday. He enjoyed an early dinner with us and ranch owner Bob Demple. We planned our evening hunt for a seven o’clock start time to take advantage of the waning moon, the vineyards and purple mountains in the distance.
The darkening colors of the oak forest made for a picture-perfect evening. I had eight hunters to work with and laid out the walkers in a classic pincer move, the heavy brush to get a hard pounding by the young guys. Sure enough, one minute into the hunt, a buck jumped in front of Ben. He took it with one shot, perfect. We continued on downhill to see what critters might still be holding in the dense cover.
Two more bucks shook out, but one ran right past our line and over the next mountain. Another turned uphill, threading through the walkers, escaping without a scratch. The hunters were talking fast and loose like a gaggle of teen girls at a dance. I laid out the guys for a second, short hunt and put Jed, our sole virgin hunter, in the most likely spot for a buck to escape.
He said, “I was moaning about being in the wrong place again when something stirred in the bushes. I was eye to eye with a forked horn. We stood waiting for one of us to make a move. In the instant before I fired, I wondered if he was sure he was supposed to be there in front of me.” A one-shot kill again put the young buck down and into Jed’s freezer next to his recent salmon and tuna trophies. He was grinning ear to ear as we tagged and bagged his deer. Ben’s deer was one of the biggest forked horns I’ve ever seen in the coastal black-tail range.
On the Friday night hunt, I was driving along the dusty trail when I spotted a stump pig just off the brow of a hill below the truck. Stump pigs, like a rock pig, are things that look like an animal to a fevered hunter. After glassing them a dozen times, you know which is which. This time, the stump pig scooted 10 feet and froze. I said, “Hey, that stump pig just moved, get your gun and shoot him.” Before my passenger could get organized the stump pig was in the brush and gone. Another ‘almost’ story for the campfire diary to keep hunters warm at night.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.