Archive for the 'Hunting Stories' Category

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Published by Gear Junky on 27 Apr 2008

When you come to a fork in the road, take it

When I was fourteen, my family was lucky enough to hunt Oregon’s famous Antone Ranch for big game each year. My grandpa knew the owner, and we had hunting privileges for a couple of decades until an outfitter made his way in and showed us the way out. We enjoyed some great times over those years, and one of them in particular comes to mind.

I was mule deer hunting when God sent an early Christmas gift to me one memorable evening. As I headed back to camp, I stumbled upon a broadside buck at ten yards. He was frozen and shocked – I froze up in shock – and neither of us had any clue what to do next. In my defense, I hadn’t killed my first deer yet so I was a bit overwhelmed, and in his defense, his back right hoof was stuck in a barbed-wire fence. An even match, as I recall.

You may assume that this scenario proved to be unfortunate for our fine furry friend, but in fact the opposite was true. As luck would have it, I had grown up reading every copy of the Eastman’s Hunting Journal that I could get my fingers on, so with visions of world-class trophies dancing in my head, I was determined to reserve my first bullet for a four-point, nothing less. I’d like to say that I had high ethical standards and wouldn’t have shot a buck that was trapped by a bloody leg in sharp metal wire, but…I was fourteen, and probably had the ethics of a billy goat like most high school freshmen. ‘Twas youth that saved that muley’s life.

I approached him slowly, saying, “Easy, little buddy, I’m not going to hurt you, I’m here to help you.” Maybe it was my reputation as an aspiring young assassin, or maybe it was the loaded .257 in my hands, but in any case he didn’t look convinced. I stepped within reach of his hind quarters and saw that he had tried to jump the fence, but came up short and snagged his back hoof. He now had a leg injury that would make Joe Theisman proud; it wouldn’t be long before the coyotes would come to play.

Once I realized that the bloody hind leg wasn’t actually broken, I pulled out my Maglite, jammed it between the two twisted wires, and pried an opening so he could wiggle his leg free. To thank me for my kindness, he kicked me in the thigh before yanking his hoof clear of the wire. He hobbled about fifteen yards before pausing to lick the wound and shake off the pain. After a minute he regained his senses, took one last gander at a fourteen year-old boy with a rifle and a hunting tag, and promptly bolted off. He was limping slightly, but looked like he’d recover.

But, like most hunting stories told by men with weapons, this tale does not end well for the young buck. You see, my grandpa did not grow up reading Eastman’s Hunting Journals, he already had a den full of four points, and was known for his insatiable affinity for tender young venison. Standing on the other side of the ridge, he was more than happy to unload on an eighteen-month-old buck with a limp and a death wish.

You can imagine the jokes and the punchlines that we came up with that night while grandpa cooked up the backstrap. Sometimes comedy writes itself.

Yep, it’s all true. (Except the parts that aren’t.)

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Published by Gear Junky on 20 Apr 2008

The Bull

(While I work on my next series of must-have gear recommendations, here’s a poem that I spent at least twenty minutes on. Get your Kleenex ready.)

The Bull

My bugle echoed across the ridge,

his quickly fired back;

We each stalked angrily toward the meadow,

both eager to attack.

His antlers tipped with ivory gleamed

like candles in the dew;

My arrows tipped with razors

longed to find their bloody hue.

His breath could chill a mountainside,

his growl meant certain doom;

My stomach growled from last night’s taco,

my breath could clear a room.

With unbridled fury he raked a sapling,

then grunted deep in rut;

I grunted when an ice-cold sapling

jabbed me in the butt.

He proudly strode into the open

and welcomed a fair fight;

I proudly hid behind a stump

and gripped my weapon tight.

He closed the gap to thirty yards –

then stopped to turn away;

Before his instincts could save his hide

my arrow made him pay.

His spirit is still resting

in the meadow on that ridge;

Part of him rests upon my wall,

and part of him in my fridge.


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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

Trying to Impress Dad

 It was a cold, dreary November afternoon as my Mom and I drove to meet my dad.  It was deer season and my dad had begrudgingly agreed to take a break from hunting to spend some time with family.  You see, deer season was HIS time, a two and a half week period each year that he absolutely lived for.  He usually left home the night before opening day, popped back in for a quick Thanksgiving dinner, and then was gone again.  We didn’t see him again until he took his one allotted buck or the season ended, whichever came first.  There weren’t many deer during those days so the hunting was hard and often frustrating.  Most seasons’ successes were not measured in actually harvesting a deer but more in how many were seen during the season.  Success percentage rates were in the single digits during those times, and the rural communities would be abuzz with news of the harvest of trophy bucks.  Consistently harvesting whitetails in those days was a sure way to assure you folk hero status around town.  For many, it was also a way to ensure that the family was well fed during the long cold Indiana winters.  Hearing the news that Dad had gotten a deer was cause for joyous celebration around my house.  I knew Dad would be the talk of the town and I knew that Mom would have a big worry lifted off of her shoulders once the freezer was full of deer meat.

I was too young to remember the occasion for this particular visit but it involved having dinner with the entire family and I was very excited to see everyone most of all my dad.  I was still young enough to not be aware of his imperfections and flaws, I only saw him as the greatest man in the world, one that I was going to grow up to be just like.  One of these days I hoped I would grow up to be a great outdoorsman just like he was.

As we pulled into the area where his truck was parked I noticed him loading something into the truck bed camper.  Later I found that after hunting deer unsuccessfully with his bow in the morning, he had switched over to his trusty twelve gauge shotgun and had limited out rabbit hunting.  Five beautiful rabbits were lying on the floor of the camper and boy was I impressed with my dad’s hunting ability.

Somehow I talked my way into being able to ride in the camper on the way to my grandparents’ house.  Just me, the rabbits, Dad’s archery equipment and the long road ahead of us.  The whole trip I dreamed of how I was the mighty hunter who had victoriously bagged the rabbits and was able to feed my village.  I would return home a hero as everyone in the village feasted and congratulated me on my great hunting skills.  They would acknowledge that I was a great hunter like my father and maybe even he would be impressed by my harvest.  The fantasies went on and on during the trip as I acted out the hunt in its various forms.  In my mind, it was the most successful hunting expedition ever; that is until the truck stopped and my dad opened the camper door.  There in plain sight were five horribly mutilated rabbits and the camper floor cut to pieces where the “great hunter” had repeatedly bagged his game by stabbing them with his dad’s arrows!  To this day I can’t truly understand what made me do that but apparently Dad found it at least a little humorous as my punishment was minimal.  I don’t think I impressed him though because every time he recounted the tale he could hardly finish because he was laughing so hard!

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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

How I Found the Woods inside Detroit International Airport

“Excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

“Uh hmm, excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

The second time around woke me up from reading a deer hunting article in Outdoor Life magazine.  I looked up to see a well-built rugged looking young man with a load of outdoor looking straight at me.  “Uh yes, well no, I mean I used to and I would like to again” I stuttered.

“Well, if you want to, what’s stopping you?”

“That’s a good question and unfortunately there’s no short answer to it,” I answered.

“Hey, we’re stuck in the Detroit airport on the day before Thanksgiving and we’re not going anywhere soon.  Give me the long version.”

And so I began.   I grew up in a blue collar hunting household in Indiana where the biggest holiday of the year was opening day of shotgun deer season.  I hunted mushrooms, mammals and birds, fished like it was going out of style, trapped furbearers and even harvested wild ginseng.  I guess it came natural with my Cherokee indian lineage.  I picked up a bow when I was about 12 years old and fell in love with it.  For a couple of years, it seemed to have grown roots into my hands as I hardly ever let it go.  I even won a state-level championship for my age group and couldn’t ever imagine not having archery be the focal point of my life.

Then I discovered girls.  To be more precise, I found the wrong girl.  In trying to please her, I strayed far from my outdoor roots.  My father wasn’t about to butt into my business but I knew it hurt him that I was nowhere to be found during hunting season.  We fished together on Father’s Day each year but that was it for me.  It was always in the back of my mind, and I even dreamed about being outdoors, but I could seem to fnd a way to get there.  As a result, with each year my discontent grew.

Flash forward a few years and I find myself with a new girl, the absolute right girl for me, with a house and a career and a baby on the way.  Everything was going very well, except that I still wasn’t out in the wild.  Occasionally we would do some hiking but there was little time for anything else.  My discontent had been replaced by happiness with a simmering desire to get reconnected with the woods as soon as possible.  Life was good for the most part, then the bottom fell out.  My father died of cancer just a few months too early to see his first grandchild be born, and I had my own brush with mortality.  As I recovered, my son was born to have problems of his own.  He would spend considerable amounts of time in and out of hospitals and treatment centers.  There was so much going on and so much grieving to do, that I didn’t have time to miss the woods even though I needed it more than ever.

Flash forward again several years and my life has been rebounded nicely.  I am healthy, my son’s health is improving, I now have three kids with a big house and my career is booming.  There are only two downsides.  First, I am still not in the woods as much as I want and second, I am stuck in the Detroit Airport trying unsuccessfully to get home for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

And now standing before me is my hunting/trapping/fishing/outdoor guardian angel and neither of us have a clue how much he will impact my family’s life.

He listens patiently to all the reasons why I am not in the woods and then hits me with the truth bomb.  “You need to be outdoors with your kids.  They are growing up fast you know.”  A profound statement from a guy still too young to legally drink.  He proceeds to tell me his story, which is that he is nineteen years old and trying to make a connecting flight to hook up with his dad for a whitetail hunt in Minnesota.  He is particularly excited about this because since his mom and dad got divorced the relationship with his dad hasn’t been good.  It seems the only time they get along is when they are hunting or fishing together and he misses all of the good times.  His words were giving me flashbacks of myself and my dad, as well as thoughts of me and my oldest son and our struggling relationship.  He mentioned that being in the woods seemed to provide solutions to problems in the rest of his life, and boy did I ever need to come up with some solutions myself.  He had just finished a hunt in Ohio and harvested a really nice buck but this upcoming hunt was really important to him because it was with his dad.  Man, how I wished that my dad was still around to go hunting with again.

We talked for a a few more hours about family and all aspects of deer hunting and then he leaned over and said, “Get back into deer hunting.  You need it and your kids need it too.”  As if on cue, the voice over the intercom announced that his flight was now ready for board and he jumped up to leave knowing he was going to make the hunt he so desparately wanted.  I leaned back in my chair not knowing if I was going to make my holiday dinner, but definitely knowing that I was going to get my kids up in a deer stand as soon as possible.

Flash forward one day and I am sitting at home enjoying a great turkey dinner rattling on about this great kid I met in the airport and how I had decided that the kids were getting new bows for Christmas so they could take up the sport that had been so much a part of my life.  They did get their bows for Christmas and so did I thanks to a great wife who heard every word of what I had said that day.

Flash forward to present day and all three of my kids have sat in the tree stand with me.  My middle son even called in the deer that I harvested with a bow three years ago.  My daughter is actively involved in 4-H shooting sports and my oldest son is starting to fall in love with trap shooting.  And to top it all off, today on my lunch hour I stuck wooden stakes in the ground marking where my new food plot is going to be planted in a few weeks.  About twenty yards from the edge of the plot in a big tree is a buddy stand where me and the kids are going to spend some quality time this fall.

It is hard to imagine things getting much better.

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Published by djohns13 on 14 Apr 2008

Deer Stand Elevation and Impact on Shooting

I saw the dejected look on his face and knew the morning hunt hadn’t gone the way he wanted.  “What happened” I asked the young hunter.

“I can’t believe I missed the biggest buck I have ever had in my sights”, he bemoaned.  “And it was only a 25 yard shot.  How did I shoot under him from ONLY 25 yards?”

“Well, I don’t know but I can say I know your pain.  Tell me exactly how it happened.”

He started by telling me how he had gotten into his stand quietly and on time, and how the morning had seemed to be off to a perfect start.  Shortly after daybreak three young does had moved past his stand totally unaware of his presence, and although he was tempted to take one, he held off waiting for Mr. Big to catch up to them.  Within just a few moments, he heard heavy leaf crunching coming from the same direction the previous does had come from.  A glimpse of brown through the brush confirmed that another deer was moving his way.  Slowly he stood and got in shooting position in case the deer was a buck.  As the deer moved between pockets of cover, he could see antler, and a lot of it.  As he had been trained, he knew to look away from the rack and start to focus on his breathing and concentrate on setting up for the shot.  The ten pointer advanced up the trail and behind a clump of trees.  Immediately, my young friend drew and got set for the most important shot of his young deer hunting career.  The big buck stepped out from the trees and paused while trying to pinpoint the scent of the does.  The hunter picked a spot behind the left shoulder, took a deep breath and gently squeezed the release trigger.  The flight path looked straight and true as it flew toward the deer.  Just as it appeared ready to deliver a lethal blow to the buck, it arced downward and flew just under the deer’s chest, burying in the ground behind the animal.  The buck didn’t wait to figure out what had happened as it bounded away through the forest.

“And that’s how I missed a 25 yard cupcake shot”, he sighed.

“Wait a second dude,” I questioned, “how are you sure it was 25 yards?”

“Because earlier in the morning I used the rangefinder from up in the stand and it said 30 yards.”

“Huh?”, I said, “you just said it was a 25 yard shot.”

“Right, but you have to factor in the height of the tree stand.  It was 30 yards from my spot in the stand so it must have been only 25 in horizontal distance.  Duh dude.”

“Duh is right dude, grab your stuff and let’s head to the truck.  You are in desperate need of a math lesson,” I said in a way that did little to hide my irritation.

Over the course of my life up in a tree, I have seen similar situations play out many times.  Unfortunately, it seemed to happen to me way too often in the past.  I kept chalking it up to “buck fever” or some other cause when it really came down to not understanding the mathematical impact of sitting in a tree.  After a particularly rough day where I undershot a nice nine pointer three different times (yes, I missed three times as painful as it is to admit), I decided to figure out what was going wrong.  The nine pointer was thirty seven yards away according to my rangefinder, so I assumed thirty two yards of horizontal distance, aimed with my thirty yard pin and missed underneath him by 4-6 inches.  Sitting backhome replaying the misses over and over, I began to question the whole yardage component.   The next morning, I was standing at the base of my tree rangefinding a stick stuck in the ground where the buck had stood the day before.  Instead of the thirty two yards I had guesstimated, the rangefinder showed 36.5 yards.  What the heck!  First I missed a great buck and now my rangefinder is busted too.  Unfortunately, a tape measure proved that the rangefinder was fine and it was just me that was screwed up.  In my screwed up haze, however, lights bulbs starting going off and I began to understand some things that had only been mysteries before.

Suddenly I was sitting back in Algebra class learning the Pythagorean theorem where a sqaured plus b squared equalled c squared.  Back then I wondered how in the heck I would ever use this in “real life” but now I could see the direct application.  By knowing how high my stand was in the tree and the rangefinder distance from my stand to the target, I could precisely calculate the horizontal distance from the base of the tree to the target.  Below is a table showing the “real” yardage based upon common tree stand heights.

Stand Height Distance from Deer Stand to Target in Yards:
in feet:      10      15      20      25      30      35      40      45      50
10      9.43    14.62    19.72    24.78    29.81    34.84    39.86    44.88    49.89
12.5      9.09    14.41    19.56    24.65    29.71    34.75    39.78    44.81    49.83
15      8.66    14.14    19.36    24.49    29.58    34.64    39.69    44.72    49.75
17.5      8.12    13.82    19.13    24.31    29.43    34.51    39.57    44.62    49.66
20      7.45    13.44    18.86    24.09    29.25    34.36    39.44    44.50    49.55
22.5      6.61    12.99    18.54    23.85    29.05    34.19    39.29    44.37    49.43
25      5.53    12.47    18.18    23.57    28.82    33.99    39.12    44.22    49.30

As you can see, the impact of sitting up in the tree stand decreases the further you are from the target, and really only comes into play at short distances with high tree stand placement.  In fact, given the flat shooting trajectories of modern equipment it might not be relevant at all.

Now when I sit in my favorite tree stand next fall and the nine pointer, now a couple of years larger, steps out into my shooting lane, there will be one less variable to deal with.  Maybe both myself and my young hunting friend will be heading to the truck with smiles on our faces.

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Published by Mead on 13 Apr 2008

Take a Kid Hunting

     I woke up early the other day and as I rolled out of bed many thoughts of early season bowhunting adventures raced through my mind. I quickly ate some breakfast and headed out to pick up my Dad. When I stepped outside I was greeted with a cool, refreshing fall breeze. I fired up my truck and began the drive across town to his place.

     I recalled many of our early season hunts and knew that soon enough we would have yet another memory to store away. My father probably never realized that when he introduced me to bowhunting 23 years earlier that he would gain so much more than a son who enjoyed the same hobby as he did. He would gain a best friend, a friendship that goes so much deeper than a typical father and son relationship.

     After I picked up Dad we headed to our parcel of land for the morning hunt. I decided to go to a favorite spot that I hadn’t hunted in two years. I found a nice tree, latched my climbing treestand to it and made my way to a perch about 15 feet off the ground.

     After I finally settled in, the woods came alive with wildlife. I watched squirrels and chipmunks dashing through the leaves as they gathered nuts for the winter months. I could faintly hear geese honking and knew their annual trek south was in its beginning stages.

     Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of movement in the brush: it was a small buck, feeding on acorns as he made his way toward my stand. I was content to just watch him. He fed through the area surrounding my treestand for about a half-hour. As he rummaged through the leaves with his nose I heard a stick crack behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and could see a larger buck coming up the hill, heading right for me.

     As he closed the distance the other buck in front of me trotted down the hill. I watched closely as they both were now directly beneath me. The smaller buck sniffed his larger counterpart’s nose and then started circling him. His hair stood up on his neck and he pinned his ears straight back against his head. I knew a fight was brewing.

     After completing two circles around the larger buck the smaller one lunged forward. They cracked their antlers together, pushed and shoved and then broke apart. Within a few seconds they were locked together.

     Deciding to take the larger buck, I slowly drew my bow. Their hooves were dug into the moss, but neither one of them appeared to be gaining any apparent advantage. My sight pin quickly settled and the arrow found its mark. The bucks separated and dashed away in opposite directions. The smaller buck thought he had won the battle. He ran a short distance up the hill and gazed at his fallen foe about 60 yards away. Satisfied with his apparent victory, although he couldn’t quite figure it out, he eventually wandered off.

     As I climbed down the tree I gazed into the powder blue sky and quietly whispered a simple thank you to my father. Without introducing me to bowhunting 23 years earlier I never would have witnessed what had just taken place in front of me. I would also never have been able to share the experience an hour later with my Dad, my best friend.

     As we all get ready for the fall hunting seasons, remember to take a kid hunting if you have a chance. Who knows, it could change a kid’s life forever. Thank you, Dad, for taking me early season bowhunting all those years ago. And thank you for still taking me and more than anything for becoming my best friend and the person I have shared every outdoor moment with since that first fall day.

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Published by Super 91 on 12 Apr 2008

Slick Trick Ohio buck!

My first Ohio bowhunting experience

What a hunt!!!! Well, I got the call from Philip Crandall on Wednesday, October 26th, 2005. He said I hope you are healed up from your surgery cause we are headed to Ohio on Sunday October 30th. So if you want to go, the train leaves about 2:00pm in the afternoon, just after church. I asked this Sunday? He said yep, so I started making my plans. As you may not know, I had just had my tonsils out October 12th, which was only 2 weeks prior. And any of us old folks who have gone through that surgery know it is rough!! So anyway I had healed pretty decent, enough to go on the trip I felt so I started going over my gear to make sure I had everything I needed and everything was up to par.

I spent the next two evening’s gluing up shafts and spin testing my new broadheads, the Slick Trick magnum head. Awesome head by the way, one I will be using for a while. Once I had my gear in order I packed, and started getting it stacked up in the garage. Finally it was all together and I was just waiting for Sunday afternoon with great anticipation. I felt absolutely great about all my gear, and knew it was all in order.

Now to back up a bit, I knew we were going to be riding 4-wheelers a lot up there, and had a practically brand new Arctic Cat 400 camo limited edition I had bought in the spring of the year. I liked the machine a lot, but it was made for one person. I had hauled my best friend Scott King up the mountain behind his house a time or two, and found that even though we were the best of friends, we invaded each other’s “personal space” quite frequently on the ride. It was just downright uncomfortable, and I don’t want to hit the woods feeling like that. I want to enjoy myself. So I set out to find the best side-by-side machine that was on the market. I like to cruise the web, so I googled a few searches and started coming up with a number of tried and true machines. But one machine seemed to really get the awesome reviews. As a matter of fact, the only negative feedback was on the ’04 machines that had a gas cap problem, and a noise problem under the bed. So far they have fixed that in ’06.

So once I had checked out all the machines I could, and read several thousand reviews and articles, I decided on a Yamaha Rhino 660 4×4 camo. Now let me tell you, I am brand loyal. Once I find a brand that really does well, it is very hard for me to switch. I love Hondas, but they don’t make a side-be-side. I have never been a big Yamaha fan, but let me tell you, that has certainly changed! I went to the local dealer, made the trade and picked out a few accessories. This was Wednesday afternoon and the same time I got the call from Philip. I came back on Thursday, signed the paperwork and loaded the machine. It fit my little 5×10 tilt trailer perfect!

I headed to the house, picked up my wife and kids, and we went to my folk’s place to give it a test ride. Once I had scared the shorts off my wife, and gave the kids all a quick ride, we loaded up and headed for the house. This machine was smooth!!

Well Saturday rolled around and I had planned a quick hunt up on the mountain behind Scott’s house. Scott was ready to go, so when I got there we loaded up the two Tree Lounges, two bow cases, and a couple of kitchen sinks…J We jumped in and headed up the same trail we had taken with the AC 400. Man, were we surprised!!!!! I could not believe how tight it turned, and how quick we went up the mountain. Compared to the AC 400, this thing ROCKED!! It made turns where we had to stop and back up and maneuver around things with the AC 400. Not that the AC 400 was a bad machine, but this thing was pure comfort and power, with the ride of a Cadillac. We were certainly impressed, even with all the great reviews, which normally makes me a bit biased when I try a new product. But to say the least, it was awesome!!

Now back to the main story…..

Sunday afternoon came, and we finally had the Rhino loaded on Phil’s trailer along with his Big Bear, and all the gear stashed in the crew cab Ford truck he loves to drive. It’s got that big V10 and we zipped right up over all the mountains on the trip with ease. We went and grabbed some gas at Kroger, then a quick stop at Burger King and we were on our way!! We all were excited about the trip, and jabbered amongst ourselves about how big a deer we were all going to harvest.

I guess I had better explain who all is in this truck, and who all will be in this story. First off, Philip Crandall invited me on this trip. I hunt with his son Paul, who is one of the best young ethical hunters I have ever met. Also along is Chip Ulmer, who I have known for years and hunted with in Co before. And myself, Bob Bowers. We all live in SW Virginia. Now we are going to Adams Co. Ohio, which borders Scotio Co. We will be in the little town of Otway, and staying with Mike Freels and his wife Betty, and their son Michael. All are just wonderful folks. They had beds made up and fed us like we were family. Man, that chili was awesome!! Everything was great.

After a stop for Starbucks coffee, one stop for fuel, and one stop at Wal-Mart to buy our license and a few things we needed, we arrived just about midnight. It was cold and crisp there, so we unloaded the gear into the house, and got the Rhino and the Big Bear off the trailer. We ate a bite of chili, talked and discussed the game plan for the next day, and then hit the sack.

3:00am I hear “Bleaaaaaaaaat!!! Bleeeeeaaaaaaat!!!!” and then “Hey!! Time to get up!!” so I jump up and grab my stuff and head for the shower. Michael was using his bleat in heat can as a wake up call….J We all get ready, and I head out to fire up the Rhino. I have my stand and bow loaded, and I get it warmed up. Once I step back inside to see if we are ready to go, Mike tells me that I am going to have to take the spare 4-wheeler cause he doesn’t think the Rhino will make it up where we are going. My heart sank as I was ready to ride my new machine, and already it could not be used. So I load my stuff on the 4-wheeler, and we head to the flat to hunt. Once on the trail, I said to myself “my Rhino would have made this trip easy!!” and was a little disappointed that I didn’t at least try it. But when you go with someone else, and they know the terrain, you go with their advice. Once the morning hunt was over, I decided that from now on I was going to try the Rhino, and if it didn’t go where were headed, I needed to know it wouldn’t make it. I didn’t spend the money to leave it sitting in the yard while I rode the spare machine. So that is just what I did.

Well, that morning was crisp at about 30 degrees, but my new thermals and new wool socks really made the difference. They put me in a nice white oak on a flat, and I parked the 4-wheeler just above me and climbed the tree and got settled in. About 6:10am, I hear a deer feeding on the falling acorns just above me. It mills around just in front of me, and I think that if he waits and eats long enough, it will get light enough for me to see to shoot and I might have a chance at this deer. But once he came around the bend and got close, he spotted the 4-wheeler and bolted right under my stand and out of sight. I feel like it was buck due the size of his body, but I couldn’t see any headgear so I really don’t know. That was the only deer I saw that morning, and once the guys came back down the path, I climbed down and we all headed back for lunch.

At lunch we all talked about the deer we had seen, and our afternoon strategies. Once we all were full and had a game plan, we loaded up and headed out again. Now I was to hunt a nice little flat in front of a clear-cut, and right near a nice little grove of paw paws. I drove the Rhino with Paul to the base of the hill, and we split up and started to make the hike up. Once I got on the flat (Paul was headed up the hollow to a good spot waaaaay up on top, a good hike for a young fellow….J) and found a good tree to climb. I got to the tree I was going to climb, started taking my stand off my back and I see a deer below me jump up out of it’s bed, and run a few feet. She is a yearling doe, and she heads back to the clear-cut, always looking for me but never located me which is good. I climb the tree and settle in, and after about 45 minutes here she comes back with a nice mature doe in tow. They feed on acorns and mill about for 20-25 minutes, and finally move on down the flat. I really enjoyed watching them. Now just before dark 4 more deer come right out of the clear-cut and literally run down to the field. I never can see if they are bucks or does, as it is too dark and they are moving too fast. But I take note of where they came out, and the time. I climb down and pack my stuff up and head back to the Rhino. It was a warm evening, right in the lower 60’s with a slight SW breeze, and absolutely beautiful.

Now I have not mentioned Mr. Keith Rose. He is a friend of Mike’s, and he came along on the hunt as well. He had wanted to hunt above “Bud’s Bump”, which was hill that seemed to like to eat new 4-wheelers alive. Many had met its match there, and it had quite the reputation. So we were going to go on a scouting trip before the evening hunt on Monday, which we did. They were unsure once again of the Rhino, and so we all loaded up on 4-wheelers to go scout the top of the bump. Keith led the way, and once we got to the top and got on the flat, he stopped and said he had hunted near where we were once and thought it was a good spot. I agreed and pinned a tree I wanted to climb. I noticed there were scrapes and rubs about, and good trails and if the wind stayed like it was, it would be a good morning spot. We went on to the back, and found a ton of very large rubs back there. Paul pinned a tree and finally Keith pinned his. We were ready for the am hunt.

Monday night we all talked about the deer we had seen, and laughed and had a great time. I’ve never seen so much coffee consumed at one time. And between the ladybug infestation, and us laughing at each other, we had a grand time! At about 10:30pm, we all worked our way up to bed, and turned in. 3:00am was going to come early…..

I wake up before the alarm, and got up and grabbed my shower. It is supposed to rain today, and we all have our rain gear ready and are loaded and ready to go. Paul and I are going to take the Rhino over Bud’s Bump, and we are ready. Keith gives the thumbs up and leads the way. We zip up the road, and finally reach the testing point, the base of Bud’s Bump. I give Keith plenty of time to get a good head start, cause I don’t want to run over him (Ha! Ha!) and I make my move. I’m in 4-low with the diff. locked in, and the machine just about idles over top. Keith looks around and said “I see you made it, wow!” I get off at my tree, and Paul and Keith head on down the trail to theirs.

It is windy this morning, gusty and swirling. I am wondering if this spot is going to pan out. I start to second-guess myself, but I tell myself, “Go with your first impression and instincts”. So I stick with my original plan and decide to hunt this tree. But what I notice in the dark is that there are way too many small saplings around the base of this tree, so I go to work sawing them down. It took me 20-25 minutes, but I had the time and got the work done. It’s hard with a small saw. So I climb my tree, and get settled in.

The wind is rocking and I doze off in the Lounge for 10-15 minutes. As I wake up, I see it is starting to get a bit light, so I stand and stretch as I like to stand the first hour or so of the morning.

30 minutes later, I see a squirrel pass by my stand. I never heard him it’s so windy. I think to myself I am never going to hear a deer walking! But right at 6:55am, the wind lays down and I make a few bleats with my mouth, as I have left every single call I own in Virginia. At 7:00am, I hear the telltale crunch-crunch-crunch of a heavy-bodied deer coming my way. I look back the way I think a deer would travel in this wind, and sure enough I see the chocolate color hide moving my way. I know it’s a buck. He is by himself, and headed my way down the trail. I struggle to get my bow out of the holder, and finally it pops free. I bring it up and he is now at 50 yards and still coming strong. My heart quickens as he moves closer to my shooting lane. I know he is going to enter a spot that is wide open and 25 yards. When he reaches 35 yards, I go to full draw. I don’t have the peep to my eye, but the bow is full draw and slightly lowered to make it easier to hold. But wait!! What’s this? He is turning, coming STRAIGHT TO ME!!! He stops at 15 yards right across the 4-wheeler trail. He had noticed the saplings I had cut down and had come over to investigate. He looked right, then left, then right again, then right at my tree and bobbed his head straight up and looked me eyeball to eyeball. His eyes got big enough to see the whites, and I’m sure mine looked the same to him. Now I am not looking at headgear, I am concentrating on a spot, and he is offering me NONE! He is perfectly straight on to me. And I can’t move the bow up and the peep to my eye without a lot of movement. If I move the gig is up! He decided it was time to hit the high road, and I know it is now or never. He lifts his front left leg to go, and as he turns ever so slightly, I raise the bow all the way into shooting position, and fire the release. He is in mid-stride, and I had less than a split-second to get this shot off. It seemed so fluid to me. All one motion and I watched the Slick Trick broadhead being pushed by a Cabela’s SST shaft bury all the way to the fletching and STOP! OH NO! I hope my penetration was complete. He bolts almost the way he came, but headed just over the rise 30 yards away and I hear a huge crash just as he passes out of sight. I felt awesome about the shot placement, and all of a sudden the reality of the whole situation hits me. My first Ohio buck!!! And not a bad one either! I do a couple of fist clenches to the sky saying “YES!! YES!!! YES!!!” and then do a little jig in the stand. I thank God for my success once I calm down a bit, and pray he’s not far and expired quickly. After eating a few peanuts and waiting 30 minutes, which has to be what eternity feels like, I climb down, and pack up my stand and sit it by the trail and grab my bow. I go to where he was standing, and see blood not 2
feet behind where I shot. Excellent!

That means I got all the way through. 6-8 feet later I find the shaft with the end broken off right at the fletching.

I look the broadhead over, and it looks like brand new, except one blade is very slightly bent. Wow! A few more steps and I find the small end of my arrow, with blood almost to the nock. I start down the very adequate blood trail, and soon have to move to the side of the trail as there is so much blood that if I stay on the trail I am going to be covered in blood. 30 yards and I crest the knoll, and I don’t see the deer. I know he can’t be far! The woods appear to be wide open so I would have thought I could have seen him right away. Oh please don’t let him run far! One more step and from behind a bush and tree I see a white belly! Yes! There he is! Oh man, this is great. I walk over to the buck, and admire his size and majesty. He is a beautiful animal. I step back and take a pic of how he lay.

I take a few of him before I touch him. I move downwind to get a shot. PEEEEEWHEWWWWW!!!!! Good gracious, that has to be the smelliest deer I have ever killed! Oh man! I’m going to need a clothespin to be around this fellow. He is rank! His tarsal glands are black, as well the lower part of his rear legs. His neck is swelled, and he is in full rut. No wonder he came in to my sweet nothings!!

I take a few more pics, and tag him. I lay my bow across him, snap a few more pics and head up to get Paul and the Rhino.

It’s still early, and I don’t want to disturb Paul, so I go to the Rhino and whistle one quick blast, and wait. After a while I start the Rhino and head back to where my tree stand is. I didn’t know it, but Paul had been very frustrated as the wind was giving him grief and had already been busted twice that morning. He was on the ground and had just about reached the road when I took off down the trail. I dropped the case and came back and found him walking down the trail. We loaded his stuff, and I relayed the story to him as we drove back. Funny thing was, he was so mad he thought I had gotten mad with the wind and all and was just as frustrated as he was. When I told him I had indeed gotten a buck, he said “No really, you shot a buck, really?” After I told him the story, he got excited for me as well, and we dropped his stand and bow off and made our way down to the deer with the Rhino. He took lots of pics of me, and then we loaded “stinky boy” into the Rhino. What a nice little 8 pointer!

We get back to where we left the gear, and load up and come down Bud’s Bump and the first drop of rain hits us as we start back down the trail.

It’s just after 9:00am and we pull back into camp. It starts to rain a bit harder now, and soon the others are back at camp. They all congratulate me on my buck, and I tell the story. We load the buck on the empty trailer and head into town to check him in, get some ice and pizza. Got him checked in and headed back to camp. We enjoyed the pizza and swapped stories of the windy morning. Then we loaded the beast into the Rhino, and headed for the barn to cape and butcher him.

We pulled him up with the Rhino, and started the process. It went smooth and we saved the bones for Mike’s wolves he raises. Keith pulled out a knife he made that was just beautiful. He sure has talent in that area. Once we iced down the quarters, we headed back to camp. It was raining pretty hard by then. One note here. I did not field dress this deer, but waited to do it when I caped him out. What I wanted to see was how much bone the broadhead had traversed, and exactly where it had gone through. It entered the wide scapula blade of the shoulder, and then went between two ribs, into the right side lung, down through the front of the heart, out the side, and through the left lung low, then between the ribs on the left side. Completely through the deer, even though the arrow did not “pass through”. I was very pleased as I could not have made a much better shot on him, no matter how much time I had. I tend to make better “snap” shots than I do if I have to hold it on a spot for a long period of time.

Since the rain did not let up till late, we all did not hunt the evening, but did go out later to scout. We went on the trail that I had gone on the first day I was there. Paul drove the Rhino and zipped right on up, mud and all, no problems. As a matter of fact, some of the other guys were not keeping up on their 4-wheelers. It was fun. After a while we all headed back to camp, and Paul and I headed back early. We grabbed our gear (except all I had was a video camera) and we walked out in the long field across the road from Mike’s house. We walked ½ way down the field, and just about dark we hear the deer running down the ridge across the creek from the field. We retreat back the way we came so as not to spook the deer out of the area.

The next morning I decide we should try Bud’s Bump again, but we all have doubts that we will be able to make it up with the mud from all the rain. I say let’s try it, so we head out. Paul and I have Keith in tow and head up the Bump. I am slinging mud all the way up and 10 feet from the top the Rhino stops. I keep the gas going and Paul jumps out. I cut the tires left and right and it grabs traction and shoots over the top!! What a machine. I am beginning to think this machine will go anywhere! Keith decided to hunt the tree I was in when I killed my buck, and we go close to where he was the same day.

Paul and I drive on back, and park the Rhino back off the trail. We grab our gear and Paul had one of the tarsal glands and we made a drag. We drag the thing down the trail, and went too far. We came back to where we needed to go into the woods, and went in and picked out two trees about 20 yards apart. It was so foggy from all the rain, and it was dripping all morning just like it was raining. It finally cleared about 10:00am. I was freezing, and coming down with a fever. I don’t know why I was getting sick, but I sure felt it coming on. The morning was great though. Two young deer came in and milled around us for 20 minutes it seemed like. There was a doe and a button buck. The doe walked to the bottom of my tree and then spooked at the peanut hulls I had tossed on the ground. She only ran off several yards, and after a while of stomping and neck jerking, they settled back to their routine, but not as easy as they first were. They milled around in front of Paul’s stand for a while, then walked down the knoll a bit. Then here they came back. I videoed them the entire time, then decided I would fill my doe tag since there was not a shooter buck coming in to Paul. I set my camera down, and when I went to get my bow, the doe caught my movement and moved off to a little thicker area and blew once and left. It was fun watching these deer.

Soon Paul could hear a turkey coming. He had a call, so started to cluck, spit and purr a bit. This hen hollered and talked to Paul for 10 minutes. She finally couldn’t stand it and came running in. She got 25 yards in front of my camera, saw me videoing her, and bolted. It was fun. But I was getting chilled. Time crept on and finally at 10:45am, I see Paul start to pack up. I gladly descend the tree and pack up. We walk back to the Rhino, and load up and head over to Keith’s stand. He is all smiles. He tells us there has been deer around him all morning and he hasn’t had a day this good in the woods in a long time. He thinks there is a 140 class buck chasing a doe just out of range. They have crossed about 6 times he said. He seems to be really enjoying himself. So we ease on down the trail and back to camp.

Back at camp some of the guys saw a few deer, others nothing. I am feeling worse all the time, and I can feel the fever heating up. The only Tylenol they had was children’s, so I figure what I need by weight and eat 12 of the grape tabs. I decide I have to lay down and rest. I sweat it out for about 2 hours, and wake feeling much better, but not out of the woods yet. Oops! Didn’t mean that pun…J But I feel good enough to finish the last evenings hunt, so I head back to the paw paw patch on the flat, only this time I drive the Rhino to the base of the tree I want in, and unload my gear. I drive the beast around the bend, park it and get back to the tree. I climb the tree and get comfy, and just try to rest. I’m not feeling the best. I eat a pear off of Mike’s tree he gave me, and enjoy it. It’s was a little hard yet, but very tasty.

Just 20 minutes of good shooting light left, and I hear a deer coming out of the clear-cut into the woods. It’s a very nice doe. She feeds along and after 10-12 minutes, finally gets to 30 yards broadside. I am guessing that with the light I had better take the shot. I see that she is in an area I had lasered earlier and it showed 38-39 yards. I am very confident to 50 yards with my setup, although I normally shoot them less than 20 yards. But I feel good about everything so I draw and put the pin where I want and release. TWACK!!!! Missed her!!! I absolutely missed this deer, right over her back and the broadhead slammed into a rock and the entire arrow was completely trashed. She jumps off 20 yards and looks around, then feeds off toward the fields. I hear other deer moving through the clear-cut in front of me and see a few. It was an exciting evening and a great end to a great hunt, even if I did miss. I’m feeling so bad now that if I were to have shot her, I know I could not have field dressed her and butchered her. So maybe it was for the best.

This hunt was very new to me as I have never bow hunted in the rut and in these kind of conditions. It was a ton of fun, and the three lucky quarters I got at Starbucks really helped me score…..;) The cashier gave me back three quarters for my change. A 1977, 1987, and a 1997. Three lucky sevens. I saved them just for good luck. Guess they worked.

The trip back home was rough as I was fevered pretty badly. We were able to stop and get some orange juice and Tylenol and that helped. I slept a good bit while Philip drove. He did great and drove the entire way to my house. We unloaded the gear and they were off to their place. I was tired, sick, exhausted, but as satisfied as I have ever been. I really missed my wife and the kids, and glad I was able to talk with them on the phone several times during the hunt. Rhonda is such a great mom, and they made me a big “WECOME HOME DAD” greeting which they all signed. Now to butcher my deer which is on ice, and to take my head and cape to the Dwayne Parks, my taxidermist. COOL!!!

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Published by Super 91 on 12 Apr 2008

Second chance buck

First Week of Bow Season, Oct 1-8, 2005


Well, to say this has been and interesting bow season is definitely an understatement.  I guess it all started at the end of last year.  I had vowed to practice more regularly over the year, instead of the sporadic method typically used in the past.  Well, I did practice more, and it sure helped.  I missed a couple of months in the cold weather, but once it warmed up I tried to shoot as often as I could.  It was a chore, because I had to go somewhere other than here at my home to be able to shoot.  But shoot I did.


I bought a new bow this summer, and sold my old one.  I got the new Mathews Switchback, and although it is a very nice bow, I don’t see where it is much better than my Outback.  Both are excellent bows.  I have learned an absolute ton this year about tuning.  In the past, I have had others get my bow into tune for me, but this year I wanted to do it myself.  I bought a bowmaster portable bow press, which is the slickest little thing I have ever seen and a must if you own a bow, and then set to work.  I logged onto the Mathews web-site, and got some excellent advice about how to tune your own bow.  Best thing I have ever done.  I got the bow back in spec after 400+ shots through it.  Now it shoots like a dream!!  I am quite pleased with myself that I got off my duff and did it myself, but I am that sort of fellow.


Next I decided to change a few things.  One was not my arrows.  I am staying with the Cabelas SST’s, pultruded small diameter shafts.  They might be small and have outserts, but they are much tougher than regular carbons, and hit extremely hard.  But I have been a die-hard Flex-fletch fan, but decided after reading a lot about Blazer vanes to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, needless to say, my arrows are sporting the Blazers and most likely will for a long time.  And on a side note, so are my best friend Scott’s arrows.  He was a died-in-the-wool feather shooter till this year.  So far he hasn’t looked back. 


Other thing I changed was my rest.  I had been using a BoDoodle Pro-Lite, but decided to try this new rest called a Rip-Cord.  It is a drop away, and I have tried numerous ones and had had very little success.  I always went back to the Pro-Lite because it helped me shoot very tight groups.  It had its shortcomings, but I really liked the rest.  Once I shot this Rip-Cord, I was plum amazed.  I was getting every bit as good of arrow flight as I had before, and no fletching contact or anything.  Very quiet and features I loved.  I put one on Scott’s bow too. 


Another change I made was broadheads.  I had been using Rocket Aeroheads Ultimate Steelheads and really liked them, but once I saw these Sonic Heads I had to try them.  I called the company and got the president to send me a sample head.  I shot it and it flew absolutely wonderful and looked like it was going to work out great.  So this year I ordered a bunch, 4 packs to be exact. 


Another really cool thing I learned to do this year is to spray-paint crest my arrows.  It is so easy and makes for the coolest looking shafts.  I’ll be doing this from now on.  Sure makes tracking your arrow in flight a lot better.


I also had tried several new sights this year, but went back to using my Spott-Hogg Hunter Hogg-it with the seven deadly pins set-up.  Man, those sights are tough and nice.  Not cheap, but well worth the money.  Buy ‘em once and your done.


Well, let’s get into the story……..



This year was supposed to be the year we went to Co. for another Elk hunt.  It was not to be. I had bought and older RV and fixed it up to go on the hunt, made a custom tow bar to pull my Chevy truck behind it, bought a chest freezer to haul the meat back in, and was loaded to the gills ready for the trip.  But the guys had to cancel due to a medical emergency of their father, and they think he had a stroke, but no one really knows for sure.  Another side note is that the other guy that was going to go on the trip dropped dead with a massive heart attack just week from the time we would have been back.  But there’s always next year if I’m still alive and kicking….


Now on to this year.  Scott and I had practiced a good bit together, and both felt ready to hit the woods on Oct. 1st.  I had told my dad I would go on this trip with him last year, and had planned to but he got a Staph infection in his skin and was not able to travel, so I hit the woods. 


Well, the season started out pretty slow, and what I mean by slow is that I had gotten all my gear loaded and ready the Friday night before opening day, and told Scott to meet me at 4:30am at my house, no later than 5:00am.  4:40am rolled around and no Scott.  I called his cell and he was groggy, just waking up of course.  Somehow he had overslept.  He grabbed a shower and came on up, but was better than an hour late.  I could have been upset, but I know these things happen, and although Scott was once characterized by being habitually late, he had given that way of life up once he realized I was no longer going to hunt with him if he was late.  So the past 10 years have been great due to him being on time or early.  So I cruised the web for a while, and then waited in the truck.  He arrived, threw his gear in my truck and off we headed.  As soon as he got in the truck, he commented “what is that SMELL in this truck?!?!?!?”  I told him it was pretty much scent free till his stinky butt arrived in the passenger seat.  And boy did he smell!  He told me that he had washed this jacket he had on and had stored it in a scent free bag, but unknown to him, his brother had gotten it out and used it several times and smoked in it and sweated all over it, so it had soured terribly.  Once we arrived at the farm, we tried to spray it down with several scent destroyers, and killed a good bit of the smell but I was sure it was not enough.  But it was way too cold for him not to wear it, so he put it on and hoped for the best.


We unloaded the 4-wheeler and Scott got the Hunting Golf Cart, as my 6 year old son likes to say, and we headed for the woods.  We only had to walk a short distance, and I showed Scott which tree to get into, and I got into one about 25 yards away.  Quick note here.  We decided to try hunting really close together this year to see how it would be.  I have a small video camera and was going to try to get him on video shooting a deer.  So far hunting close has been a blast.


Once in our trees, we settled into the Tree Lounges and waited to see what would happen.  I was scanning the woods with my new Lieca Geovid laser binos, which are great by the way, and hadn’t seen a thing.  I had dozed off and on, but kept hearing a noise that would keep me jumping awake.  Finally I hear a deer blowing like crazy downwind of us.  Sure enough, these 6-7 deer had come in on the downwind side of us, and scented Scott.  The young buck blew and blew and blew till I thought he was going to pass out from all the blowing!!  They ran up the hill and presented Scott with a 40-yard shot.  He took the shot, but caught a small branch on the way deflecting his arrow.  It was a total miss, which was a big relief.  The hunt was over, so we pack it up and head back up to the 4-wheeler and cart.  Once we loaded up and headed down the road, I told him if we were to hunt together this evening we would have to go back by my house and wash his clothes again.  So that is what we did.  After we washed his clothes, we headed out to a small spot in Salem at his brother-in-laws place, and set up once again 25 yards from each other.  As Scott went to pull his bow up in the tree, the rope came untied and he had to make a lasso and hook it on the bow but he got it up in the stand.  He hadn’t got the bow pulled up hardly and here came a small deer.  The deer got 12 yards from the base of his tree, and I was watching through my binos as he shot the deer.  I never saw the arrow, but I did see a hole open magically in the side of the deer, and it ran off a short ways and piled up.  Too cool!!   Ten minutes later, here came a nice doe and a yearling.  They got close to Scott’s tree, and once she was broadside, she turned and started walking straight toward the base of his tree!!  She stopped at his rope hanging down, and looked straight up at him as I released my arrow.  WHAM!!!  The broadhead hit her high, and completely knocked her off her feet.  She was laying on her back with her feet up in the air, and Scott got to watch it all from directly above her!  That had to be cool.   But here comes the bad news.  She jumps up, and runs about 10 yards and stops.  Scott draws to anchor her, but his release fails and halfway through the draw cycle his release turns loose.  The arrow hits a tree nearby sending the doe on a run.  She runs a long ways.  We tracked her for hours and across several fields until way after dark.  We scoured the place but never found her.  First time I have ever lost a deer with my bow.  I never found her.  It made me pretty sick to tell you the truth.  But I guess it happens to everyone if you hunt long enough.  I can only guess the angle I took the shot was greater than I thought.  I had lasered where she was standing, and the arrow hit exactly where my 20-yard pin was, which was much higher than I would have liked on the deer. 


Monday I determined to hit the woods with a vengeance.  I got into my stand, and shortly thereafter some fella toting a shotgun comes wandering under my stand.  I whistle and he looks up.  Then he scurries off quickly like a kid who got his hand caught in the cookie jar.  After about an hour, and young doe came wandering in, and offers a 28 yard shot, but is always behind some brush.  Determined to not make two bad shots, I wait and she walks back off.  I am a little perturbed, but I know if I wait that she will come back.  Eventually she does, and as I raise my bow to shoot, I realize my pins are barely visible.  Enough to see them, but I am having a hard time seeing if I am centered in the pin guard.  I use my customary anchor, settle in and whack!!! I end up shooting the log under her.  She never hears the bow go off, and only steps forward a few feet.  I knock another, and same thing again.  Although she offers another shot, I decline since I know I am not going to make an ethical shot on this animal.  She goes on, and I get down.  Side note here as well.  When I shot at that deer opening day below Scott’s stand, he said he never heard my bow going off.  All he heard was the arrow striking the deer.   Seems I have a pretty quiet setup as not one deer has heard me shoot at them this year.


Tuesday and I’m back in the woods with Scott.  I set up in the same place and don’t see a thing.  Scott sees two and lets them both go as he is waiting for something a little bigger. 


Wednesday I go to my folk’s place where I keep seeing three does come out to eat persimmons in the field.  I set up my ground blind under a cedar tree.  I am settled in and about ½ hour before dark they come out.  The largest doe runs across the field and get 40 yards from the blind and realizes that this is something new and stops.  She blows once and then runs back to the woods.  Another hunt blown.  It was fun though.


Thursday I go back to Scott’s.  It’s raining cats and dogs, but we are trying some new waterproof clothes out.  We get set up, and once in our trees we wonder why we decided to hunt this evening as it is raining cats and dogs.  Oops, said that already didn’t I….  We got drenched, but I saw about 7 turkeys and took a shot at one, but with the water in my eyes and the birds moving the way they were, I shot just under the thing.  They never spooked at the shot, just jumped up a bit and went right back to feeding.  Later, just at the edge of shooting light in these dark woods, I see a nice doe moving in to range.  30 yards.  She steps out to where I can make the shot.  I line her up and release.  Clack!  Clack!!  I see sparks fly where the broadhead hits some rocks.  The first clack it where I hit some unseen small branch.  It looked wide open down to her, but I hit a small something that turned my arrow.  I’m very disgusted right now, as I should have had at least one deer on the ground by now.  I’m seeing plenty, but I’m having a heck of year connecting.  The deer runs straight to Scott, and he tries to shoot but again has release malfunctions and two arrows are prematurely released into the soft ground before he can reach full draw.  He is mad.  Deer runs back behind me, knowing something isn’t right but can’t figure it out.  Stops again at 30 and offers a tiny but shootable window between two trees.  I take aim, and as my pins are floating by the small tree, I tell myself don’t shoot, not yet, not yet, whack!!  Yep, you guessed it, I hit the small tree just perfectly!!!  She bolts and that is the end of that deer.  A small coon comes wandering out in the meantime and I take a pot shot at it, but hit low and the thing just stands back and sniffs this crazy thing that just appeared under it.  Never heard the bow go off either.  I watch it roll of into the woods, scurrying about.  We get down and head for the truck once again.  Turns out my waterproof hat is more like a water funnel.  My head is soaking wet and so is my crack where I was bent over climbing and the jacket didn’t go far enough down to cover that area.  I need to get some belt loops sewn onto these pants, other than that they worked great for Wal-mart specials.  They are warm though. I think they are going to be great cold weather gear. 


Didn’t hunt Friday but called Scott to make plans for Sat.  We decided to hunt an area we hadn’t hunted since last year, and we rarely bow hunt there but it is a great morning spot.  Well, it MY turn to over sleep.  Scott calls me and I am just rolling out of bed when I should have been at his place.  Somehow I had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and turned my alarm off.  I even had it sitting upside down so I would have to wake up enough to turn it off!!!  Oh well, I guess we are even now since he over slept last Sat.  I get to his place; we load up and head to Wal-mart so he can get some suspenders for those waterproof pants I was talking about.  I pick up a sight light, and we head down to Sheetz to get a snack for the hunt.  After leaving there, we drive to the place we are going to hunt.  It is an absolute muddy mess.  As I pull the truck in off the gravel road, it slides all over the place in the new mud.  I put it in park, not knowing if I am going to make it out later.  We load up our stands and grab out bows and head into the woods.  It’s light out now, so we don’t need lights to get to where our trees are. 


Once we get into the woods, we take the trail we normally use to get to a couple of nice poplar trees we normally climb.  But to our surprise, they have been cut down!  They have select cut over the summer, and we never got word on it.  So now we are standing in a set of woods that doesn’t look like anything we remember.  Now normally we get pretty upset at the other being late, but today we were in no rush and the rain sort of helped as we didn’t want to climb a tree and get too soaked.  But we walked along, looking over the damage.  Right as we were coming down to where our trees used to be, I stopped and looked down to see an old penny, black from tarnish laying in the mud, heads up.  I picked this up and stuck it in my pocket, as the maintenance supervisor who works for me it’s good luck to pick up a penny with the head up, gives you luck all day or something like that.  So I did.  I picked it up, plopped it in my pocket and walked about another 50 yards and stopped behind Scott. 


Now you have to remember we are carrying 30+ pound tree stands since we have them loaded with gear and tree umbrellas and such.  I’m just about ready to put mine down; it’s killing me.  We both have heavy rain gear on, too hot for the weather so we are both sweating more than we would like.  We do both have on this now X-Scents silver fiber clothing which is supposed to stop the growth of bacteria next to your skin so you don’t smell, but I’m not too sure if it is doing much today.  I don’t even have my release on yet.  So we stop, and I am 5 feet behind Scott and we scan the opening in front of us.  I don’t see anything, so I turn to look at a clear spot more behind us and up the hill.  As I turn back to tell Scott lets go to these trees, I see he is frantically knocking an arrow.  So I pull out my release and slip it on, and knock and arrow myself.  While I am doing this, I ask him “What is it?”  He say “Shhhhh!!!  I see a deer!”  I can’t see the deer because of him and his tree stand on his back.  I raise the binos for a look and just peek around his shoulder.  I see a nice doe and laser the closest tree behind her- 50 yards.  She is right about 40, perfectly broadside.  He raises his bow, and takes the shot.  He looks back with his fist in the air with a yes!!!  Looks like a good hit.   The deer dart to our right, and go through the thicket and emerge out the far side and crest the hill.  Two of the three have flag up, one doesn’t but all move at a pretty good pace.  Scott motions to run along to where they came out to make sure no more were coming, and that I might get a shot.  I hold him back as I see movement where the does came out.  Another deer!!!  I know this deer is at 40 yards as well, and although I had practiced out to 70 yards this year, I would have liked to gotten a closer shot.  But if he stopped in the lane, I would have an awesome broadside shot.  No such luck, as he gets to the lane, we both start bleating but he steps right on through.  Scott is making some god-awful bleat-groan-wail, and I let my bow down just to look at him.  I take the release off the string to scratch my nose, and low and behold, he turns and comes straight out of the brush, right toward us!!!  Now Scott doesn’t know I have let down, or don’t have my release on the D-loop.  He says, “Here he comes, shoot!! Shoot!!”  I can’t get the release back on the loop, and I can’t seem to get everything together to make this shot, but all of a sudden my release slips on the loop, and I at full draw before even I know it.  The deer is coming directly toward us, and Scott is just to my left.  If the deer goes too far left Scott will be in the way.  The deer starts left, but quickly corrects to switch skidder tracks and leaves me with a quarter-to-me 35-yard shot.  I don’t like this kind of shot normally, unless it’s with my White muzzleloader where I know I can plow right on through, but it is the only shot I am going to have.  Scott is saying “Shoot! Shoot!” not realizing I just got to full draw.  He feels like it has been an eternity.  I release and the arrow tracks true, but stops before the fletchings reach the hide, as a matter of fact, the arrow looks like it only made it in the deer about 1/3 of the way!!  But what happens next I have never seen in all my years of bowhunting.  The buck rears up on its hind legs, and takes about three steps straight back in a walking fashion.  Then he rolls onto his back, and breaks the arrow off and gets up and busts through the thick brush.  I hear a crash, and that’s it.  I’m worried though, as it is very wet today and he could have R-U-N-D-O-F-T without us hearing him and a blood trail on a rainy day is tough.  So we decide to leave him be for a while, and go look to see what we can find as far as tracks with the doe.  We go to where we saw them last, and find the tracks but no blood.  We backtrack to where the deer were standing and find Scott’s arrow.  Clean miss.  I don’t know what he hit, but he missed altogether.  He was glad it was a clean miss, cause tracking in these soaked conditions on a marginal hit would be tough.  Now I know I have plugged my deer, but I am worried I didn’t get deep enough penetration.  The shot was absolutely where I wanted it, and was headed directly for the heart.  I find where he was standing, and a little pile of hair.  I laser Scott as he is where I was standing, and come up with exactly 35 yards, right on the money.  As I look around, I see the shaft broken in the heavy brush and pick it up.  Sure enough, it is only about 2/3 of the shaft in my hand.  I am hoping it made it in far enough.  We start to track, and see several sets of tracks but no blood.  Not good but we set out on separate tracks anyway.  I go left and Scott heads right.  I hadn’t gone 20 yards and I hear Scott yell, “I’ve got him!”  I jump through the brush like a jackrabbit, and run over to my waiting trophy.  I take several pics and give Scott a big handshake and then tell him “what’s with the handshake, give me a hug!”  Well, maybe that was more information than you needed to know, but I was excited, and Scott is my very best friend, so there.  Well Scott takes a few pics for me, and I start to gutting the deer.  I am careful, as I don’t know where the broadhead might be, and I don’t want to cut anything the broadhead didn’t.  As I roll the guts out, all I see is blood in the chest cavity, but there is a nice “X” through a rib.  I look through the lungs, and although they have some blood in and around them, I don’t see a mark on them.  Now this deer ran only 20 yards max, what killed it?  A further inspection of the heart revealed a tiny three-blade hole tucked right in the very top of it.  It had gone into the heart maybe an inch.  Once I got to the butchering part, I cut the shoulder out and discarded it since it likely had carbon splinters in it, but I did do a further investigation of the bone.  I had hit the front ball joint absolutely dead center, dividing it in thrice.  It also had to go through a rib and then into the heart.  Very impressive to say the least.  The broadhead ended up just under the shoulder between the hide and the inside of the shoulder near the rib cage.  So we turn the deer up so it would be draining well, and pack out stands and bows back to the truck.  I ask Scott “Why did you say I wouldn’t need the four wheeler today?  Isn’t this WHY I bought it?”  He just laughed.  At least till we started dragging the monster out.  We went back in and hooked the drag, and made our way out.  I called the game call in number and checked him in.  We loaded him in the truck, and we both felt the day could not have turned out any better.  Now getting out was a little more of a challenge than we thought it might be.  It was the slickest mud I have been in for a while.  As we started out, we had to go between several old vehicles and started to slide into one.  I had to back up and try to sneak along side it and just did make it out, slinging mud the whole way!!!  But we made it out.


Now I will conclude this forever-long story with this.  We hunted the evening as well, and although I didn’t see anything, Scott was able to see a few and we had a relaxing evening to a wonderful day.  As a matter of fact, Scott and I both said we have not had as wonderful a day in the woods as that day.  I was on edge because I knew I was having surgery on the following Wednesday, and wanted to get one “under my belt” before then, as I knew it was not likely for me to get to hunt much after surgery before early muzzleloading season.  So I was elated to say the least, and taking one on the ground with a tree stand strapped to my back and just the way it all worked out was great.  It’s day I won’t soon forget. 

26 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 5 (26 votes, average: 3.65 out of 5)
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Published by poorman on 11 Apr 2008

Are Big Buck$ Hurting Our Sport?

Over the years I have watched our beloved bowhunting turn into something other than what I believe it should be. It seems to me that for many it has become work rather than recreation. I personally believe that any deer with a bow is an accomplishment, but for many if it isnt a 160″+  buck then you haven’t done anything. Ninety five percent of the hunting shows on TV will only show the host harvesting large deer. I have actually had people tell me in a forum that I should not have shot that six point because he wasnt mature. It seems that the only acceptable deer to shoot anymore are the “Giants”.

Well, I for one disagree. I am not saying that if you want to practivce QDM on your own land that you shouldn’t. However do not think that because you do, every one else should. If a big buck walks in front of me then I will be more than happy to send an arrow through him. However if 1.5 year old six point makes the same mistake then he is in just as much danger as the big boy.

I love hunting “deer” It doesnt matter what size or sex. They all taste good! But it just seems that the hunting community as a whole is leaning toward “I have to shoot a big boy” in order to prove my hunting ability, no matter what the cost. It is getting to where the average guy “me” cant’ find a place to hunt because the properties are all leased out to Paying Customers. The sport as a whole has become more expensive. And the average guy has a hard time getting into the sport because of cost.

Maybe its just me but it seems to have gone this way since television started airing hunting programs. All the hosts are shooting giant bucks so that must be the norm… right? Maybe I am way off base but I just think that all the emphasis that is being put on taking large bucks is hurting our sport.

What do you think??

35 votes, average: 3.86 out of 535 votes, average: 3.86 out of 535 votes, average: 3.86 out of 535 votes, average: 3.86 out of 535 votes, average: 3.86 out of 5 (35 votes, average: 3.86 out of 5)
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Published by poorman on 07 Apr 2008

Hunting: The Complete Package

     It was still three hours before sunrise, but I was out of bed and getting prepared for the morning hunt. Even though I had not slept a wink the night before, I was fully charged and ready to go. I had looked forward to this moment since the last day of the season the prior year. Just being out in the woods this time of year was enough to get my adrenaline going. There is nothing more beautiful than a woodlot in early to mid October. Fully camouflaged from head to toe, I was almost ready. As I sat there pulling up my knee-high boots (camouflaged of course), I couldn’t help but wonder how this day would turn out. Would it be an eventful morning or would I come home empty handed? After finishing my morning cup of coffee and loading my gear into the truck, I drove to the woods where I would be spending the next five hours.

     When I arrived, I still had one hour before sunrise, wich gave me plenty of time to get to my stand and get set up for the morning hunt. I unloaded my bow from its case, took out my flashlight and started the twenty minute walk to my stand. As I started the walk I thought to myself about how much everything looks the same in the woods when it is dark and how easy it would be to get turned around and become lost. I wondered how the pioneers did it without the flashlights or reflective markers that we use today. Trying to be as quiet as I possibly could, I ventured on. Nearing my stand, I again wondered how things would go. Had I picked the right spot? Had my previous scouting trips payed off? Would I see the deer of my dreams? Would everything come together and make this the perfect day? I had waited nine months for this day to arrive and I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the morning to come.

     Well here I am at the tree where my stand is placed. The stand that I have put in this tree is a twenty by eighteen inch steel platform that is attached to the tree with a log chain and adjustable straps. It is twenty feet above the ground with steel steps screwed into the tree at various intervals to allow me to climb to the top. It is cold and uncomfortable, but I think its a good trade off for what I am getting in return. While I am tying my bow to the rope that is hanging from my stand, an owl lets out a screech from above and nearly scares the living daylights out of me! After regaining my composure, I slowly begin my climb up the tree to where I would be spending the rest of my morning. On my way up, the owl decides he doesn’t like the company and noisily flies away to find a different perch. After reaching the top I fasten my safety belt and pull my bow up to where I am perched. The sun is just beginning to break the tops of the trees on the east end of the woods. My God! What a beautiful sight! This is a whole different world than it was just a short hour ago. The orange hue of the sun lightly reflecting off of the red and orange leaves couldn’t have been painted any prettier by Rembrandt himself. The morning dew was sprinkled across everything in sight and when the sun hit it, it sparkled like a field full of diamonds. This is truly one of God’s gifts to mankind. After enjoying the view I settled in for the hunt to come.

     It wouldn’t be long now, I thought. This is prime time. The next hour will be when it all happens, when all my hard work pays off. The sun is above the trees now, the darkness is gone. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and I think to myself there is no other place in the whole world I would rather be on an early October morning. All the leaves are changing colors, most of the weeds are dead or dying, the birds are chirping and the squirrels are chattering. This is what makes it all worthwhile. All the work that goes into making this morning happen. All the sore muscles from carrying in the stand and getting it in place. All the complaints from my wife on how all I ever think about is hunting. To me its all worth it.

     My eyes are peeled and my ears are open just waiting to get a glimpse or hear a footstep of an approaching deer. After all, that’s what I am here for, isn’t it? After an hour or so it happens- I hear a twig snap in the leaves behind me! Could it be him? Could it be the buck of a lifetime? My heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my eyes. My pulse is racing a mile a minute as I reach for my bow. This is it, I think to myself. Stay calm. Don’t be nervous. Don’t rush the shot. You have practiced all summer to be able to make a quick, clean kill. All these things are rushing through my mind as I slowly turn around so I can be in the perfect position for the shot to come. As I get turned all the way around and start scouring the woods in front of me for the approaching deer, it is then that I see what is making the noise in the leaves. It’s a nice eight point buck following a doe and they are headed straight for my stand. If they continue coming this way I would have the perfect broadside shot. The closer they got, the harder my heart would beat. Two more steps and the buck would be in the perfect spot for a double lung shot. Those two steps semed to take an eternity! Just then he made the last of those steps, I raised and drew my bow. I could see the razor sharp broadhead on the end of my arrow and I started envisioning it slicing through the buck’s lungs. In the little amount of time that it took me to draw my bow I had forgotten one thing- the doe! Just as I came to full draw she spotted my movement and let out a snort that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The buck and I both knew this was an alarm call and it didn’t take him any time at all to vacate the area with the doe trailing right behind him. With my heart still pounding, I watched them run farther and farther into the woods with every passing second. Finally I settled back into my seat and tried to slow my pulse rate down, before I keeled over with a heart attack! That was a rush that no drug could ever induce. I dont think there was anything in the world that could have made me feel any more alive than that thirty-second scenario that just took place.

     The rest of the morning was uneventful, except for the appearance of a red fox and a few squirrels. The birds are always there keeping me company and singing their songs. Before long, it is 11 a.m. and time to go home. Discouraged and tired, I once again tie my bow to the rope and lower it to the ground from my perch in the tree. As I am walking to my truck, I again take notice at what a beautiful place the woods can be.

     On my short drive home, I can’t help but think that I had an unsuccessful morning. Here I am, going home without a deer in the back of my truck or any blood on my hands. If that doe hadn’t seen me that buck would have been mine. Then it hits me like a slap in the face – that isn’t the only  reason I hunt. I should be ashamed of myself. I had just experienced what many people never get a chance to in their lifetime. Seeing those beautiful animals in that gorgeous setting is one of the most amazing things there is. Just being able to be there and enjoy the sights, smells, and the sounds of the outdoors had made this morning’s hunt a success. After all, I didn’t need to kill anything to make this a memorable and enjoyable experience – it already was! If a person hunts just to kill, he or she is missing the best part of the hunt. It’s not just the kill that makes this sport enjoyable, it’s all the events that lead up to it that really make it a complete package. If I subtracted all the events that led up to and followed the actual kill, I would have some very short and boring hunting memories.



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