Face-to-Face Buck ... Dressing Birds ... Backcountry .45

Will that spooked buck be back? Also, there's more to a bird than breast meat; and protection from bears.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Q: Last season I hunted over some scrapes made by a big 6-point buck here in Pennsylvania. I waited all morning and saw nothing. As I was leaving my stand, I came face-to-face with the deer. The buck cautiously moved around me, always keeping an eye on me as I stood there motionless, then stepped from behind a tree at 30 to 35 yards. I drew and missed when the deer jumped the string, and the buck trotted off. Will that deer ever come back to check his scrapes, or even come back to that area? --W.

A: Hmm. I've hunted in Pennsylvania and found that a "big 6-point" there is what hunters in many other states would consider a medium-size deer, probably a 2-1/2-year-old buck. This is confirmed by the fact that the deer saw you, yet circled close enough for a shot. My guess is that he'd come back again, maybe even the next day. A really mature buck would have been gone in a flash and probably wouldn't return to his scrapes except at night.

Q: I'm only 13 years old and enjoy reading the articles in your magazine, as they have many useful tips. While deer hunting this past season, I was told that a quick and easy way to field dress gamebirds was to slit the throat of the bird, then step on the legs and pull on the wings. The breast meat should pop out. I wasn't actually shown this technique and wonder if you've heard of it, or something similar. --C.D.

A: Yes, I've seen the technique used but generally prefer to skin or pluck the whole bird, as there's lots more meat than the breasts on any gamebird. You should also be aware that most states have laws about wasting game meat, which normally includes the legs on any bird bigger than a dove. Personally, I even like to eat dove legs, though there isn't much there!

Q: I'm concerned about protection from bears and mountain lions in the backcountry while fishing. How would a .45 "Long" Colt measure up to a .44 magnum against a brown or grizzly bear? --J.H.

A: The .45 Colt (often mistakenly called the Long Colt) is just as much or more gun than the .44 magnum, but only if handloaded in a modern revolver like a Ruger Blackhawk. The factory loads are pretty wimpy, because many ancient .45s are still kicking around. I carry a Ruger in .45 Colt with handloads in mountain lion and black bear country, but I wouldn't count on one to stop a grizzly or brown bear with anything except a brain shot. You're much better off carrying a big can of pepper-based spray repellent than trying to shoot a charging grizzly between the eyes.