The wildlife that abounds in the rolling hills of the Palouse region of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho get accustomed to the engine noise of combines and tractors working in the fields from early in the spring through late in the fall. Deer, Elk, Coyotes and upland game birds have been known to sit tight almost to the point of getting "run over" by the machinery as it passes by.
Fall is a very busy time for farmers with not much time for fun things like hunting or fishing. Farmers must get the ground fertilized and get the winter wheat seeded then comes plowing the stubble fields all during a short time frame before the weather turns the fields to mud or worse yet "snow". Time off to go hunting or fishing is almost non-existent for most farmers.
An aerial picture of Y's Acres Farms. The Snake River breaks in the background.
An SKS hanging from the gun rack in one of the combines, mostly used on mangy critters that like to dig holes in the fields. A hole can cause expensive damage to the equipment. Also, an occasional field mouse is fun target practice. The SKS is also great for protecting the Nation’s food supply from terrorist, no matter how dirty it gets it still goes bang.
Deer, Elk, Pheasant, partridge, and quail eat the wheat seed that was left behind by the combines. Coyotes will follow the tractors around the fields for hours at short distances feasting on field mice turned up by the tillage equipment. After it rains and the seed sprouts in the stubble fields it turns into a green smorgasbord of tender new wheat plants that wildlife devour and helps put on fat reserves for the upcoming winter months.
Mule deer coming out of a canyon at dusk to eat in the field
Many farmers have concluded that the best way to fill their deer tag and put food on the table is to carry the rifle in the tractor with them. When a deer is spotted they drive to a vantage spot, set the E-brake and get out of the tractor without being noticed. The deer rarely moves and is not startled by the change in engine RPM and usually puts its head down and continues eating. It makes for a nice calm animal that is not full of adrenaline.
The picture above was just the case, my shooting bench (sight in) is always set up at the red water tank in the background. It was the last day of the season and getting late in the afternoon. I had just walked out of the big Almota canyon where I had spotted a few smaller mule deer bucks off in the distance but at more than a mile away I decided my hunting season was soon over. My son was driving the John Deere tractor and he radioed to the shop when he saw me enter through the door, and ask me if I had filled my tag yet, NO! I replied, He said “I’ll be coming around to the shop in a few minutes, get your rifle and get in the tractor with me.”. As we were making our way to the water tank at 3 MPH he was explaining that there was a four-point whitetail laying down on the short ridge and he would stand up and move about 10 feet and lay back down as the tractor went by, and that I should probably get out at the water tank and use the sandbags that were on the shooting bench as a rest.
When we reached the water tank I got out and my son continued around the field. I had a few minutes to range find it at 280 yards, get my rifle loaded and settled into the bags and let my heart rate drop after the long hike out of the Big Almota canyon.
As the tractor arrived at the location, my son did not see the deer right away. The 4-point buck had buried himself into the tall stubble. The deer startled my son when he stood up and walked right in front of the green tractor. I let the tractor pass off around the corner to a safe distance before the Remington 700 SS DM 7mm topped with a Leupold 3.5 X 10 vari-X 3, and loaded with a 160 grain Nosler partition found its mark.
My son took the picture, then gave me a ride back to the shop to get the pickup and help me load it in. A cold Rainer beer is pictured on the plow and was quite refreshing after a long day of hunting.