As the 2013/14 last season goose season came to an end, our "crew" headed out one last time. With all of the recent snow and ice, we knew it was going to be tough to get to one of our fields.
The forecast was for 90% chance of rain throughout the night and would be ending shortly after daybreak. So we hooked up to our Team WC enclosed trailer and headed out.
The weathermen were spot on this time with the weather. Once we got our decoys out, the wind picked up and the rain stopped. The wind actually got up to 25 mph. We heard a couple of flocks in the distance but never saw them. As the wind continued to blow the clouds out, the sun just popped out and had the snow shining like diamonds.
Around 8:00 we saw a single goose crossing the field at the other end. He was downwind of us and was able to hear our RNT Goose Calls. He made one wide circle and then starting cupping his wings once he saw our spread. We let him glide in to the 15 yd “in-yo-face” range and then we took him.
It was the only bird we harvested that morning and we were truly blessed to experience it here in SC and in the snow. It would have been easy to stay in bed with all the inclement weather we had, but we can say, "We never gave up". From opening day to the last day, we gave it our all. It's who we are!
Good Hunting ~ Daryl
Derrick Outen is a character?and yes...a sharp-shooter. If you know him then this blog entry won?t surprise you much. I?ve been after Derrick to let me video one of his hunts for a while and we finally lined it up. This past Saturday morning, I met Derrick early in the morning and we set out on our hunt.
We ended up in a nice condo stand overlooking a field that is surrounded by woods. We made a point to be quiet and not use much light as we entered because sometimes deer bed down in the areas surrounding this stand and we didn?t want to spook any of them on the way in. It didn?t take us long to get up the stand and get situated. I also made sure I was on the side of the stand that would be filming the ?good? side of Derrick?s face just in case I had to get him on camera.
It was 43 degrees and the air had a crispness to it that felt pretty good. We sat and watched the sun rise from about 30 feet up in this spacious condo stand. It was a very picturesque scene to observe as you could see for a very long distance all the way around the stand. As the sun rose the beams of sunlight shined down onto the field for a really unique sight. As soon as the sun hit the top of the trees it was dead in our face. Derrick looked at me and said ?that?s why this is an afternoon stand? lol! We leaned back to keep the sun out of our face as much as possible. Eventually it finally got high enough not to bother us.
We sat and scanned the field for about 2 and a half hours. We had a great aerial view of everything going on around and beneath us. The only problem was that nothing was moving! Derrick had some food plot product planted in the field and some corn out around the edges?everything seemed just right. I was sure something was going to walk out at any minute. The cut-over had been cut about a year ago and so there was thick brush surrounding the field that we were overlooking. If a deer walked through the brush, as Derrick said he frequently sees them do, you would see the bushes and small trees moving as they came through. Normally one wouldn?t see this kind of stuff, but being up so high you have that visual capability due to the vantage point the stand gives you. He said if it?s a buck, sometimes you?ll just see antlers making their way through the brush in the cut-over. The thought of that scene just kept playing over and over in my mind, but no matter how hard I thought about it? it just didn?t happen.
The clock was ticking and I had to head to the beach to celebrate the one year ?engage-iversary? with the wife. We got down out of the stand and headed back to the shop. Derrick said that there was another cut-over that we needed to check on the way back in. We drove a little while and then parked the truck. We got out and started walking. I?ve never tried to just walk up on a deer before and didn?t really think anything like this would work. So as we got out of the truck I was asking myself all these questions about how we were really about to pull something like this off and if so, how was I going to get it on film. I didn?t have any answers that made sense to me.
We arrived to the edge of a cut-over and this cut-over was looking down on a really steep hillside. Derrick said that the deer were going to be on the hillside somewhere and that we needed to be as quiet as possible. He really knows the land well and we would be shooting at a down angle in a direction that didn?t pose any danger to anyone. Since we were out of the stand I was free handing the camera which equals a ?shakey? video. Also, at this location the sun was in our face again and it was bright. We took a few steps with Derrick leading and me in the back. After about 5 yards it was clear to see that ?quiet? wasn?t the word that would describe our entrance. There were just too many sticks on the ground, brush in the way, briars ripping our pants, and cuckle berries. It was thick and not fun to walk through. We got about 15 yards in and neared a tripod stand that he?s got on the hillside and he said ?there they go? and I looked up and saw 2 white tails just bounding down the brush-covered-hillside. They were getting out of there and I mean quick like. This is the scene that a hunter sometime sees, but hates to see it happen?that is, spooking a deer and watching them flee the scene. Right after he said ?they?re they go? I had started turning the camera on and he was propping up on the tripod stand. To my surprise, one of the deer got right on the edge of the woods and just stopped and turned around. I have no idea why this deer stopped, but when she did I heard Derrick say ?You ready?? Since the sun was directly in our eyes it was really hard for me to find the deer in the camera. I was bobbling the camera and mumbling?"uh, yea-noo, hold on, yeah I got her, go ahead". As soon as I said ?go ahead? Derrick pulled the trigger and the shot rang out and the deer ran to the right going out of the cutover and out of our sight.
I watched the deer in the screen and I told Derrick that I didn?t think he hit the deer. Derrick just stared at me and we had an awkward moment of silence and then he said ?You mean to tell me that you are doubting me?? The look on his face was reminiscent of a look that the football coaches gave us when we had just messed up and they asked a question?knowing that they knew what the answer was! I said, ?Well you could have hit it and I?m not saying that you didn?t hit it, but just from the way she ran off and the dirt I saw fly behind her? I don?t think you hit her.? Another stare down and question??Clint, you?re really going to sit here and say that you don?t think I hit that deer?? I got the camera back out and looked at the video and the video was tough to see because of the light and me moving it around so much ?Blair-witch? style, but at the end of it you could see the deer and the shot. We watched it back again and I said? ?You didn?t hit that deer. I?m telling you...you missed.? Derrick just shook his head in total disbelief that I didn?t think he hit the deer. The look on his face was one that I can?t describe accurately here in words. I think my doubting his shot may hurt our friendship a little! Lol! He said ?Alright?let?s go get the mule and see?but I?m telling you? I hit that deer.?
We headed back to get his mule (yes we?re in SC, but that?s not a real mule but a larger ATV) and on the way back I was thinking to myself that there was no way he hit the deer. I mean think about it?we just go walking through some cut-over, the deer jumps, he props up on a tri-pod, asks me if I?m ready, I give him the go ahead, and he shoots downhill at about 125 yards and he hits the deer?... all within 10 ? 15 seconds? Come on now..the odds were just too high working against us.
We got in the mule and headed out to the location of where the deer was and sure enough?we found blood at the location where the deer was standing when he pulled the trigger. When we found that first drop of blood Derrick gave me another long, awkward pause/stare basically letting me know that I was dumb for doubting him. It was again reminiscent of a look you may have seen in high school football from one of your coaches. We parked the mule and set out tracking. Derrick had also switched guns from the rifle to a shotgun in case the deer jumped again. We set out walking over this cutover again trailing this deer. The briars, cuckle berries, and everything else was sticking to us and getting in our way. Since it was early a lot of the brush was wet and so our clothes became wet after just a couple of yards tracking this doe. We walked and trailed this deer forever and we could easily see the blood trail and this deer was really moving after the shot. We only lost the blood trail momentarily and then regained it. This doe ran back up the hill, made a left, and then headed back down the hill toward the creek. We trailed this deer for about 115 yards and it took us about 20 minutes. We kept thinking we were just about to see the deer, but then there would be more blood further up. I told Derrick that we were going to have to add 5lbs to the weight of the deer because of how long the blood trail was. We were both surprised at how long the deer ran.
We finally found the deer lying down the hillside near the creek. It was a decent doe and, as bad as I hate to say it, he made a perfect shot. I mean the bullet placement was right where it?s supposed to be. When we saw where he hit the deer he kept giving me a hard time about me doubting him. We drug it to the next closest road. When we looked at the doe we noticed that the deer was really old because it only had about 4 teeth on the bottom jaw and those teeth were loose. We also noticed that this deer had been shot earlier in the season by someone. It looked like someone grazed the top of this deer?s neck with a rifle because the hair was gone and you could see the fresh scar on the back of the deer?s neck. I?d never seen one with that few teeth and that been shot before, much less that combination at the same time.
We headed back to the mule and brought it over to pick the deer up and guess what I got lectured about all the way to get the deer, all the way back to the shop, and all the way to the processor and back?that?s right??I can?t believe you doubted me? and on and on and on.
This is a good example of properly having the date in the pic
Below is the video I shot?be ready cause it?s quick and very shakey
All in all it was a good hunt and I won?t ever question Derrick?s shot again (whether he misses or not)! Lol! I will say though that he made a good shot and got it done in a situation that was probably not the best case scenario so I give him kudos for that. His shot was definitely better than my video!
As hunters we?re always looking for new products, ideas, concepts, and gear. I guess it?s just our nature to want to know what the ?next best thing? is or to be able to see trends just around the corner because we want to better ourselves and be well rounded outdoorsmen. Having a lot of hunters on one site allows us to learn from each other and to share information. Through information sharing we make the most out of our time in the field. And on the information side of things?I?ve got some info on a new camo that is just coming out that I would like to share with you in case you like to try out new products.
CrossOver Camo is a new camo that has a really neat pattern that I think will mesh well in some of the outdoor backdrops of South Carolina. CrossOver Camo is a Christian based organization that aims to take the Gospel around the world and share in its fellowship. CrossOver Camo is based out of Delaware and is already making a splash in the outdoor industry.
CrossOver Camo?s pattern is based off a design called ?Reactive? Camo. I took a quote off their web site to explain a little bit about their ?Reactive Camo? pattern? ?Hunters know nothing hides like a deer. The deer?s hair absorbs and reflects light to aid in their ability to blend so well in the environment. Our New Reactive ®Camo pattern evolved from two and a half years of research and field testing. Designed utilizing five different deer hides which provide various colors, sizes and patterns, enabling you to be disguised in the environment like never before, getting close and staying undetected.? One neat thing that I like about the camo is that the cross is integrated into the pattern. Also, the pattern has some dark, vertical lines in it that are similar to the lines in the bark of a pine tree.
I've been checking out CrossOver Camo for a little while and have been testing it to see how it blends in with a couple different backdrops here in SC and its done well. I?m going to wear it turkey hunting this spring and see how it goes and will try to keep you posted via future blog entries. You can decide for yourself after you see the below video.
If you?re interested in seeing the pattern up close for yourself then you can find it this coming weekend at the Palmetto Sportsman?s Classic in Columbia at the McKenzie Scent Fan Bag booth. Be sure to stop by and check it out. If you?re not going to the classic then check out CrossOver Camo?s web site at www.CrossoverCamo.com.
I’ve been hunting pretty hard this season. My wife and I are expecting our first child in February so I’m hunting as much as I can before the baby arrives. All season long I’ve been letting deer walk in hopes of connecting with a big buck. As you would expect, the big bucks show up on the stands I’m not hunting or they come out at night. In the game of chess with nature, I’ve been losing… at least with the big bucks.
Leading up to Thanksgiving I noticed a buck I hadn’t seen previously showing up on my game camera. He was nice and he was cutting it close to shooting light with the time of his arrivals. I started paying more attention. The day before Thanksgiving he showed up in broad daylight at 8am. I thought to myself that the next day, Thanksgiving morning, might make for an interesting hunt. I’ve shot a nice buck on 3 out of the last 4 Thanksgivings. See here, here, and here if you want to read those stories.
The weather forecast indicated it would be 28 degrees on Thanksgiving morning - it was going to be a great morning to hunt and I was eager to see what would unfold...
My Hunting Partner, Back from College
If you see some of my hunting related tweets you may know that Coach Sam Mungo is my main hunting partner. Sam finally got where he could carry a bag of corn and then he left me and went off to Clemson! I’m not sure how he worked it out with Dabo, but they let him come home over the Thanksgiving break.
In early October Sam started asking me what time I was going to pick him up to go hunting on Thanksgiving Day (read: he was excited to come home and go hunting). Nearly every day he would text or call asking what was going on with the deer. I had to give him daily reports and I told him that I’d been seeing some good deer on the game camera. As the days and weeks passed he started smack talking me. He’d tell me “You can’t kill that big deer without me!” I think he wants to claim to be the good luck charm.
As I mentioned above, the closer Thanksgiving got the more that new buck started showing up on camera. Most of the places I take Sam hunting are locations where we have good cover and body movements are shielded by a box stand, burlap, or thick brush. Sam and I both like to move around a little bit while deer hunting so we hunt in locations that afford us some “wiggle room” if you will. Though, the deer that was showing up in daylight was showing up near the stand that was the most exposed. This stand was on a tree out in the middle of everything with no burlap and no cover. It would be easy to get busted on this stand. Any movement would be clearly visible to a deer ultimately resulting in an unsuccessful hunt.
I realized that we would need to hunt this stand to have the best chances for a big buck, but also realized that we would be packed in tight with zero margin for error on a very cold Thanksgiving morning. It was going to be a risky hunt. Because of this I started preaching to Sam weeks ahead of time about how we had to be still, not talk, and be focused to have the best chances
Thanksgiving Day Hunt
The time had come. I woke up around 5:30 and went and picked Sam up. When we arrived back at the house I realized Sam didn’t have any gloves or a facemask. I knew this wasn’t a recipe for success so I quickly outfitted him with new gear and put a thick jacket and pants on top of everything he already had. I had told him that we would not be leaving the stand just because he was cold.
We headed out to the cutover in my Pioneer. It was very cold and the wind in your face on a day like that really reinforces the fact that you have to want it to put yourself through that kind of stuff. By the time we got to the middle of the cutover the tears the wind created in my eyes had been pushed to the side of my face and dried on my skin. We had arrived to the stand.
On this hunt we didn’t have any action early in the morning. Once the sun got up we had a spike buck roll through. Sam was sitting on the left and I was on the right. I had to remind Sam a few times to hold still as he made big movements with his arms as he adjusted his facemask several times. These sweeping movements are the kind that deer can see from far off. Though he moved more than I would have liked for him to, when the buck came out he was very still.
We’d been sitting in the stand about 3 hours when I couldn’t feel my toes any more. I asked Sam if he could feel his and he said no. I asked him if he was cold, he replied “no”. I then told him that I was freezing. Sam turned to me and said “You know we can go to Larry Courtney’s and get some coffee and a biscuit right?” lol! I laughed him, but it wasn’t too long before I took him up on the notion of getting some coffee to warm up.
The big buck had eluded us, but we still enjoyed being out there. We’d have to give it a shot the next day and Sam is not a half-hearted hunter, he would no doubt be right there with me the next morning.
Black Friday Hunt
With the previous day’s hunt behind us we were ready to head back out with hopes that the big buck would show. This time I made sure that Sam had enough clothes. We arrived early and made our way into the stand. It was cold, the air was crisp, and the ground was covered in frost. The sun started to rise. Sam was doing well and I told him that it was “Deer:30” and that the deer should be moving shortly.
It was just light enough to where you could see decently across the cutover. As all hunters know, it was that window of time when you really pay attention because deer move a lot in this time frame. I was scanning the cutover when I thought I saw something move to the right. I re-focused and sure enough, I saw what appeared to be a deer coming from the block of woods on our right. I whispered to Sam “Do not move” and I knocked the safety off.
As the deer advanced out of the woods and into the cutover he walked the path of the highest point over the crest of the hill. By walking this specific path he gave me a good view of his body and rack because I could contrast it against the pink of the rising sun. It looked like a scene from a painting. He took a few steps and stopped. He looked up at us. We didn’t move. He took a few more steps and looked the other way. I moved the gun up and got in the scope. Sure enough, this was the buck I’d been recently seeing on game camera. Time was of the essence and I needed to act quickly.
I zoomed the scope in just a bit and put the crosshairs on his shoulder. I could shoot while he was walking, but I’d much prefer to shoot when he paused. He was halfway over the hill by now and I was trusting that Sam was holding still beside me. Then the deer paused and looked up at us at about 80 yards out. I put the crosshairs on him and slowly squeezed the trigger. I made sure to not pull the trigger quickly so as to not flinch and make a bad shot. Within a few seconds the gun went off and I saw the deer instantly fall to the ground!
I couldn’t believe what had just taken place. I took a breath and turned to Sam and said “We did it buddy we did it!” and we high fived in the stand. Sam instantly got excited and went straight into the 100 question sequence wanting to know who would we show it to, what were we doing next, and when we were going to the processor. Sam was in a hurry to get the show on the road and I told him I needed to calm down for a minute and take in the moment. I took some deep breaths, made sure my safety was back on, and we celebrated a little more.
We then made our way down the stand and across the cutover. Even though I saw the deer instantly fall I was still somewhat nervous as we approached. It’s been a long season so until I had my hands on him I wasn’t holding my breath. It didn’t take long until we saw the buck laying on the ground. He was a nice one and I took a few pics of him and made Sam hold him for a pic. I posted an update to Facebook and Twitter and then we soaked in the moment for a little bit more before we drug the deer to the Pioneer and loaded him up.
After we got the deer loaded up we took our celebration ride back out of the cutover and to the house. We then got my mom to take some more pics in a better location. Yes, you know your mama loves you when she wakes up at 7:30am in 28-degree weather to take pics of you and a deer! Then we proceeded to go around town showing people the deer and eventually made our way to the processor! It was a big day for us and we made it last as long as we could.
For me it was a quality buck that makes all those days of pre-season work, constant corn-hauling and game-cam checking, hunting, waiting, and watching deer worth it. To be able to get a nice buck like that is something special and to do it with Sam right there with me made it even more special. For Sam it was another test passed in his hunting career. He has gotten to the level to where he can hold still when he has to and our confidence levels are going up!
It was a hunt that I’ll never forget and as you would imagine, Sam is already asking me when I’m going to pick him up for hunts when he gets home for Christmas break. Before long he’ll tell me “You can’t kill a big buck without me!” Turns out I’ve got another buck showing up that he and I may take pictures with soon so stay tuned…
Last Spring Mr. Bruce Puette took me on my first turkey hunt. After the hunt I posted a blog entry titled ?The Day I Learned How to Turkey Hunt?. I got all fired up about turkey hunting and went and bought all kinds of turkey calls, camo, etc. Well, Mr. Puette also deer hunts and we just had another successful hunt.
Two weeks ago I gave Mr. Puette a call to see if he wanted to go deer hunting at some point. I told him that I didn?t plan on bringing a gun and that I just wanted to video one of his hunts again. It seemed to work out well the first time with turkeys, so I figured it would probably hold true with deer, plus I had gotten a better camera since turkey season! Mr. Puette and I got a date on the calendar and I was looking forward to it.
So this past Saturday I crossed the Pee Dee River into Marlboro County and met Mr. Puette at 4:30 in the afternoon. It had rained a lot in the previous week (we really needed the rain) and a cool front had started to moved in. It was still warm, but nothing like it has been. The conditions seemed just right for seeing some deer.
When I arrived we talked around the trucks for a bit and put on our camo. Mr. Puette said he wanted to hunt with his muzzle loader to see if he could get one with it. Mr. Puette was shooting a Traditions Pursuit XLT, Black Powder, 50 caliber. I?ve never even seen a muzzle loader so I really didn?t know much about it. While we talked, Mr. Puette loaded his gun. Me, being slack, didn?t even think about videoing how he did it. After the hunt, I was kind of mad at myself for not getting it on film. Anyway, I think he put in the black powder and then the bullet. I know that he took a rod out from beneath the barrel of the gun and pushed the bullet and powder down the barrel. He really had to put some muscle into it to get it down the barrel too. It didn?t just drop easily. After he got the load down the barrel he dropped the rod down on it and it bounced. He said when the rod bounces then the load is ?set? correctly. I have never I seen anyone load their gun like that, so it was pretty neat to see.
We headed out to the deer stand not too long after that. We rode a 4-wheeler to get there and I?m glad we did because it was a pretty good distance from where we parked the trucks. The rain really did get the road wet and we rode through some big puddles on the way. You?ll see it in the video, but it was pretty scene on the way in as we rode deep into the forest back to the stand.
We arrived to the stand and headed up the ladder. Mr. Puette had us hunting in style in a nice condo-like stand that he had previously built. The stand was situated on the edge of some woods overlooking a cut-over. From our vantage point the cut-over was to the right and the hardwoods were on the left. Mr. Puette sat on the left side with the best angle on the shooting lane and I sat on the right. Mr. Puette had a shooting lane cut out to the left and had some corn down on the shooting lane.
We had been sitting in the stand for about 5 minutes and Mr. Puette said that one of the branches down the shooting lane was bothering him, so he climbed down out of the stand and walked over there and broke the branch off! Mr. Puette returned to the stand and we sat for a little while and observed the scene looking for movement. Not too long after that we heard a shot off in the distance that was really early. Mr. Puette looked at me and said ?That?s a good sign?the deer are moving?. Shortly thereafter Mr. Puette got his grunt call out and grunted a little bit, but nothing responded. We continued looking over the cut-over and shooting lanes for a while and then we heard the sound of stick breaking behind us to our left. If you?re a hunter then you?ve probably heard a sound like this before. It sounded like an old limb lying on the ground that got stepped on and snapped. It?s a distinct sound and it got our attention. For the next little while we were scanning back to our left really hard to see if anything was coming. We kept looking, but nothing ever showed from that side.
I was hopeful to see some deer, but pretty soon the sun would start setting and go behind the trees. When the light gets low it?s hard to film so I was keeping my fingers crossed that something would move sooner than later. Since we heard the sound from the left, I kept glancing over that way thinking I would spot something, but I never did. The cut-over was so thick, I never thought anything would come from that side, but just when I least expected it?I saw a flicker of white out the corner of my eye.
Anyway, the does came out of the cut-over on the right and headed towards the woods. Mr. Puette said ?They?re headed to the corn? and he got his gun up. He had a little better line-of-sight than I did because of where he was sitting and he whispered ?Here they come?. I zoomed out for a quick view of him and his gun and then zoomed right back in on the corn pile. I saw the first one pop its head out and I knew it wasn?t the largest one. Mr. Puette was saying ?Is that the big one? ?you can hear it in the video. We were waiting on the largest doe to get there and it didn?t take long. Three does stepped out before the bigger came into vision. I told him that the last one was the biggest out of the group. When she stepped into the shooting lane she was broad-sided and Mr. Puette had the perfect angle. Mr. Puette clicked his safety off (which you?ll hear in the video too) and the doe perked her head up?she knew something was wrong?and then BOOOOOM?Mr. Puette had shot and smoke went everywhere.
There were some others hunting in the area so we waited until it got dark before we left so as to not mess up their hunts. While we were waiting we heard another shot. After it got too dark to hunt, we headed back out to the trucks. Turned out that one of the guy?s in the group had brought his wife and she got her first deer that night as well. It seems the deer were moving!
Below is the video of the hunt? sorry for the low-level production, but I?m still figuring all this video stuff out
It was a great hunt and I got some good footage. Looks like Mr. Puette can get it done with turkeys and deer and the type of firearm doesn?t seem to matter either! Next time I?ll be sure to video and document how he puts the load into the Muzzle loader. We had a great time and Mr. Puette told me that I brought him good luck, but I?m not too sure about that?I think he?s just a good hunter.
Also, I got a feeling we?ll be filming a bow hunt before too long because Mr. Puette is also a bow hunter! I bet he?s good at that too?
"We're going to get one tonight" JD whispered as we settled in for the evening hunt. I was a little more skeptical because as I cut a thread on the burlap surrounding the stand with my CRKT "Brow Tine" knife a bead of sweat dripped from my forehead. It was a very warm October 15th. The double stand that we have set up faces west and with little shade the bright sun had JD and I squirming for any available shade.
The deer seemed to have similar thoughts as well. Just as the shooting lane filled with shade the deer started to ease in for an evening snack. With a little less than an hour of shooting light and deer already starting to move into the food plot I started to believe in what JD told me earlier.
The first two deer that entered the food plot were a doe and her fawn. We watched these two for a few minutes when the doe shook her head and then darted through the food plot as if to signal that something had her on edge. As the fawn followed the doe out of the food plot I whispered to JD, "There might be a buck behind them." Before I could barely finish that statement a buck entered the food plot. "There's a buck!"
JD and I had hunted several times during the week and had seen a good number of deer on those hunts. On those hunts we really put our Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle bag and Atsko scent products to the test as a front moving in off the coast had the wind blowing at our backs. On each hunt we had deer in close and not one time did a deer wind us. On this hunt though we had the wind in our favor and with plenty of daylight left I thought to myself, "We are going to get one tonight".
For this to be true though I knew that we were going to need the buck to close the distance before I would give JD the green light. The buck entered the food plot a good two hundred yards out and would need to get within a hundred yards for a comfortable shot. The buck seemed to be torn between the doe and the oats and turnips we had planted. He would drop his head and chase the doe but soon lose focus and start to eat again. With this patterning continuing it seemed likely that he would soon be within range. As the buck made his way closer JD filled my ear with questions. "How much do you think he weighs?" "How far away is he?" "What do you think?"
As I watched the deer move down the food plot, my words to JD were, "I think he would be a great first deer." JD took a deep breath and I could tell he was starting to get really excited. The buck finally had made his way to the bottom of the hill and now he stood at one hundred yards. I whispered to JD to get ready and ease the safety off. I told him when the deer took a step forward to put the cross hairs right behind the front shoulder and squeeze the trigger. As the buck took that step forward my heart was pounding because I knew this was the moment we had been waiting for. Without hesitation JD squeezed the trigger and the buck dropped. As I watched through my camera's viewfinder I could tell that the buck was down but I quickly told JD to load another cartridge. To my surprise the buck jumped up. JD fired another shot just over the bucks back. The buck turned and sat on the right edge of the food plot. "Load another round!", I exclaimed. It was at that point I thought the first shot might have hit him high. The buck staggered up again and headed for the cutover. JD fired another shot and the buck disappeared.
Every deer hunter knows that feeling that overwhelms you after you shoot a deer. I think JD and I both were shaking like a leaf as we tried to plan our next move. I replayed the video and JD's first shot looked like it hit high and back some. We waited about thirty minutes and then walked through the food plot to mark the spot of where the deer entered the cutover. We found a little bit of blood where the buck had sat down but as we searched the edge of the cutover there were no signs of blood. If any of you have ever searched for a deer in a cutover you know how hard it is to navigate the briars and thick brush. With the darkness set in and no sign of a blood trail, I thought it would be good to go to plan B. We went back to my house and reviewed the footage over and over again. With the shot being high I thought it would be better to give the deer time instead of pushing him out and eliminating our chance of recovery. We decided to wait until daylight and get some help from my neighbor.
My neighbor had always told me that if we couldn't find a deer to call him and he would get his Labrador Retriever to help. So I called him the next day, and in a moments notice he had Haley ready to "Hunt Dead". I picked JD up and we headed over to the food plot. Haley got on the trail quick but we couldn't keep up so we decided to start over. This time my neighbor stayed right on Haley's tail and within a few minutes we recovered the deer. A sigh of relief from me and big "Woooo!" from JD echoed through the thicket.
JD had just harvested his first deer. A four point, 120 pound buck! The buck had three points on his left side and a cowhorn on its right side. Definitely a great first deer! I couldn't have been happier and I think JD feels the same.
Words can't really describe the feelings of sharing this experience with my cousin JD. I think this will be something that he will always cherish and I know I will. I was really impressed with his patience during our hunts and I think he is officially a deer hunter. He has learned so much not only through the things I've tried to teach him but also from all of the others who have helped us along the way. And I can't thank everyone enough.
JD, you did a great job and I can't be more proud! I think you got a pretty cool birthday present this year buddy! Check out the video below of the hunt.