With the boat cleaned out and the last bass tournament of the year behind me, it was finally time to get out in the woods with my bow. Typically I will not bow hunt until we get a couple good frosts, and this year is no exception. My house is nestled right in my hunting area so to keep an eye on deer movement and patterns of movement is part of a daily routine.

Late last week I was seeing a noticeable positive change in deer movement and at least 3 new shooter bucks in the neighborhood. This activity is almost 3 weeks early this year over last - in 2008 my first day bowhunting was Monday, October 27th. I rarely hunt out of a tree when bowhunting these days, as my strong suit and what I enjoy the most is calling and decoying. That being said, Friday October 9th I went on a little milk run to check all of my ground blinds and freshen them with brush where needed.

On Sunday, October 11th when I woke to a 29 degree temperature and a forecast of snow late in the day, I could no longer contain myself and made plans for the evening hunt. A good friend of mine from Rice Lake, Chad Larson was coming out here to hunt Sunday evening as well, and the plan was that Chad was going to hunt on the edge of the woods overlooking the alfalfa, and I was going to hunt a ground blind in a 15 year old pine plantation around 400 yards north of him.

This ground blind in the pines has been very good to me, as it is a staging area that deer use prior to coming out to feed. On Sunday November 2nd, 2008 out of this very ground blind I harvested a typical buck that netted 172 3/8 points. That deer came in to the horns and I took him at 8 yards with a recurve bow.

I settled in to the blind at 4:10 pm and waited until 5:30 pm to begin my first calling sequence with the horns. This early in the season, the most effective calling you can do is lightly grinding the horns together to simulate a more playful sparring. This will draw in both bachelor groups of bucks, as well as dominate bucks that are curious to see who is infringing on their territory.

At 6:05 pm I hit my second sequence on the horns. Shortly thereafter I heard the sharp snap of a broken twig behind me, and as I slowly turned toward the sound I was shocked to see 2 does and several fawns feeding on aspen saplings 20 yards behind me. I watched those deer for approximately 10 minutes when a a tractor pulling a chopper box came down the road 80 yards to my west and they all ran off tails up.

The next 10 minutes I was still facing backwards to see if they would come back, when I heard a noise to my east. I looked over my left shoulder and there stands a 175" class 10 point buck with 12" to 13" G2's sparring with a 14" wide 8 pointer. They were 27 yards out (checked it with a rangefinder) and they were oblivious to my presence. I had a Mathews Conquest with me on this outing and at 27 yards, that is a dead deer so I slowly twisted myself in a position for a shot. Every time the two bucks lowered their heads to leverage each other I got my posture closer to being able to take a shot.

Finally, in what seemed like an eternity but was more like 45 seconds, I was at full draw with my 25 yard pin on the vitals of the big buck. I was breathing right and squeezing the release - the kisser button was resting firmly in the corner of my mouth. At the release of the arrow, my Scentblocker mask flew off my head, darn near taking my ear with it. Unbelievable!!  I tried to gather my senses enough to figure out what happened. Upon examination, my kisser button got hung up on the cord of my mask, and pulled the mask off my head and throwing my arrow harmlessly off target.

I hate making rookie mistakes and this was certainly one of those. The cord that comes on these masks are designed to go behind your head and cinch the mask tight to your face. I was real warm earlier and loosened the cord, moving it to the front of the mask - dumb!!!

There is plenty of hunt left, plenty of movement still happening, but I won't forget this one for a while. To be so close to harvesting 2 Booners 2 years in a row and screw it up, gets me sick!

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2009 Wisconsin Bass Classic - Minocqua Chain

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Tournament # 6 - Clam Lake