On November 14th of this year, I will be 52 years old. That means that this is my 40th of hunting. In those 40 years I have shot more than my fair share of deer.
I love everything about hunting – always have. Over the years however, the excitement and anticipation of the hunt has changed for me. I used to be so excited that I would lose sleep the night before the hunt. I used to think that the best fragrances in the world were fall leaves, gun cleaning solvent and buck scent. I used to read magazines about deer hunting year round and I actually saved every one of those magazines for reference.
I still shoot my bow every day even in the off season. I shoot rifles and shotguns year round. I consider my self very proficient with any weapon that releases a projectile.
As the years went on and life became more hectic, I found myself less and less excited about the whole process of hunting and I miss the old me! I have never missed a deer season, but let’s just say I don’t really bounce out of bed at 4:30am any more – it seems more like work! That being said, I decided to refocus for the 2012 season, and try to find the fire that I so miss about hunting.
When it comes to deer hunting, I am a “caller” by trade. There is a 2 to 3 week window in which solid bucks will come to the horns. In my area of northwest Wisconsin, that window began on Tuesday, October 16th. That was exactly 4 days after I saw the last bachelor groups of bucks in my area. I have been in the woods on stand every morning and evening since then.
On the evening of Friday, October 19th, I had 2 bucks coming in. One was a respectable 8 pointer that had around a 17” spread but lacked mass and appeared to be only around 2 ½ years old. He came to the horns like he was on a string and was within 15 yards of the ground blind I was in. If he is not harvested, he will be a true trophy in a year or 2.
About 75 yards behind him was a 150” class buck that was coming in quickly, as was real ornery! He kept coming in strong and I needed about 8 more steps out of him before he would hit an opening in the pines. As fate would have it, a feed truck was approaching a stop sign a few hundred yards away, and the sound of the truck’s engine brake spooked the buck out of sight.
I decided to give the ground blind in the pines a rest for Saturday, and hunted the south end of the property, 800 yards from the pines. I rattled in 4 different bucks on Saturday, but none were shooters.
Sunday, October 21st, I got to the pines at 3:30 pm. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few large, fresh scrapes, and a very fresh rub on a pine that was 6” in diameter and was deeply grooved (see the first picture below). The rub was around 20 yards from my ground blind. Tonight the wind was out of the southeast at 15mph, with gusts to 25 mph – with that in mind, I started my second rattling sequence rather aggressively to overcome the wind noise.
At 4:40pm I caught movement to the right – it was a mid 160” buck coming in head down and coming in quickly. He appeared to be heading to an open area of the pines near the fresh rub. I put the rangefinder on that rub, and it read 18 yards. With the buck 30 yards out and still coming quickly, I held on the opening by the rub. Just before he hit the opening, I grunted and he came to a stop. Just as I released the arrow from the Mathews Z7 Extreme, a strong gust of wind blew the window flap up! The arrow went through 2 layers of the flap (see the second picture below) and skipped helplessly off the ground, 5 yards short of its intended target!
The buck ran around 100 yards to a thicket, and look back wondering what happened.
For around 15 minutes I was fuming. When I gathered my senses, I realized I had the fire back! This is why I hunt. It is for close encounters – some are successful and some are not. Fate was on the side of this monarch tonight. He wasn’t spooked out of the county so you never know! Anticipation is 99% of the hunt for me.
The next few days I will give the pines a rest. Later this week if I still have my buck tag, I will be back in that ground blind, looking at that special view (see the 3rd picture below). This time I will bring a few pins to hold the flaps in place if it is windy. Pain is a great teacher!!
Thank you God for giving me the opportunity to hunt!!