Today was the first group hunt by the Tamaho Bunkai (our neighborhood hunting association). We had 17 hunters show up so we were able to hunt the largest tract of land we have access to. This is a steep hillside about 4km long on the downhill side and from the bottom to the top of the treeline is about 3km. Since I am the youngest member of our group (excluding 1 new member) I was assigned to the most remote position at the top of the highest point of the treeline. After about 1 hours 15 minutes, I made it to my spot and signaled for the hunt to begin. About 2 hours into the hunt, one of our elderly hunters radioed the group that he saw 6 does enter the hunting area. Since these were about 4km from me, I did not pay much attention. About 50 minutes later I spotted a big doe sneaking above my position. It turns out there were 6 does in all. They were moving pretty quickly until one of them spotted me and let out a "danger" snort/whistle/bark. They bolted through the bushes and I was unable to take a clear shot. Just as I was about to settle back leaning against my tree, I heard movement on the same trail the does had come from. I adjusted my position just as a very nice Nihon-Jika came around the bend. He paused for a second and instantly spotted me in my full safety orange clothes. He began to run, following after the does, but my reaction time was much quicker, and I squeezed off one round. I was sure the shot was good but he bounded away and was out of sight in 15 meters. I radioed the hunt leader and began to slowly walk to the last spot I saw this deer. I had a lot of trouble locating his tracks in the deep, dry leaves, and I could not find any blood trail. I identified 6 or 7 possible trails but none of them felt right. I returned to my spot twice to check my bearings. I then did a 20meter circular search crossing the tracks I found, searching for the real trail, to no avail. I decided to conduct a grid-type search 50meters by 50meters. On my second pass, I found him in a depression next to the majority of the trails. Turns out he had bounded just 1 or 2 times after I lost sight of him and had quickly expired.
After radioing our leader, I field dressed the deer. My bullet had been true, entering his left side just behind his shoulder, and exiting his right side mid-torso. By the size of the wound channel, it was clear that he had passed in a matter if seconds.
Next came the really hard part...I needed to haul this deer down to the bottom border road, about 3 km!!! One of our newest members, a guy 13 years older than me, was assigned to come help me. I let the boss know that this deer would take more horsepower to get down but all of the hunters are much older and no one wanted to hike all the way up to this position. We grabbed the antlers and started dragging! The dragging changed to a preventing the deer from tumbling down the mountain! This area is so steep we struggled to keep from slipping ourselves and the deer knocked us down more than a few times! Actually, the steepness of the slope, and the dry leaf bed made it not too bad. About an hour and a half later we made it to the nearest road and the hunt was done!
I was the only hunter lucky enough to take a deer today. This is the second deer this season, and third trophy in as many days! I am absolutely grateful for my incredible good luck this season!
Sorry for the poor photos, all I had handy was my cell phone.
See you in the yama!