Late report, but made my first trip to SHNF on 1/1 - 1/4. Took my dad's .270 he gave me last year (and got a nilgai with at LANWR) and an antlerless permit in hopes of coming home with a doe and some good memories. Arrived and setup camp in the evening before rain came in later around midnight. Spent most of Wednesday in the tent and around camp, but took a drive in the evening to a couple areas of interest and familiarize myself with the roads, etc.
Thursday was still rainy so went out to some bottoms/creeks and bumped a hog, but not shot available (good in retrospect). That evening I checked out a new area with fresh hog sign and still hunted a few hundred yards before making my way back to the road and my van. I liked this area because it had good hardwoods, water, and was open for decent visibility/shot opportunities, but little fresh sign.
Friday morning decided to go back to that area from Thurs. evening and stand under a tree for a couple hours and see what happens. About 8:30 I decided to stalk up to a nearby hilltop and scout new areas. Got up the hill around 9:30 and saw good fresh sign that deer were actively using the area and decided to stay until lunch. Stood between two big pines with good views all around and an active trail about 20 yards in front of me and wind in my face. Everything sounded like deer...the birds, squirrels, wind, only to be dissapointed.
Then at 10:00, I'm startled as I see a deer body on the trail directly in front of me (that I just came in on about 30 minutes before), but it's head was behind two small trees. Through a small space I saw antlers and they looked nice. He stepped out and I about pissed myself when I saw his profile. Tempered my expectations as I knew he needed to be at least 13 inches wide. A brief glance directly at me and I still wasn't sure, but knew he was close to legal. He took a few steps, glanced my way again, and I felt good that he was legal and would take the first good shot he presented.
He turned broadside and casually walking up the trail when I aimed just behind the right shoulder and fired. Watched him take off the way he came in and after a few minutes checked out the impact site. There was good blood and sign of a lung shot. After waiting about 15 minutes, I couldn't wait anymore and followed his trail. About 60-75 yards, this is what I found...mass, bladed tines, 10 1/4" left G2, 10 3/4" right G2, and spread of 14 5/16". Hope this hasn't spoiled me, but can't wait to get out there again. At some point I'll get off my arse and start shooting my old Bear Grizzly again. That and being with my kids on a hunt like this is about the only thing that could make this any sweeter.