I always look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas because I know that I’ll be able to spend a lot of time in the woods. This year’s Thanksgiving holiday brought with it some really cold weather. I checked the weather page on the site and saw where the low was 25 degrees for Thanksgiving morning. This level of cold gave me the opportunity to use my new Extreme Weather Camo Suit that I had recently got from Cabelas. Ever since I got the camo suit I had it sitting inside of my McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag. When I got the suit out of the bag it smelled completely like the “Earth Scent” I had the bag pulling through it for a few days. I put my base layers on and then my suit and headed out the door.
It was so cold that the ground was frosted over. As I reached the woods at my hunting location I heard the ground loudly crunching with each step I took. The light coming from the light on my head was reflecting on the frost on the ground. I knew at this point that my trip into the woods would be a loud one, but what else could I do? I entered the woods and the leaves seemed to crunch louder with every step. My breath created a fog as it reflected off the light on my head and about 10 minutes later I was climbing up into my stand.
I’d been getting a lot of game camera pics on this stand, but not really any big bucks with consistency. I took my camera, monopod, and quick-grip with me into the woods and got it set up. It was during my setup that I remembered that the video camera wouldn’t record when the temperature is really cold. So I setup the monopod and the quick grip and just tucked the video camera into my suit so that my body heat would keep the camera warm. I figured if I saw something coming I could just put the camera up on the monopod and start filming.
Normally in this stand as soon as the sun comes up seemingly millions of squirrels come out and run around as if they drank red bulls all night. However, on this day the squirrels stayed put and didn’t come out and make tons of noise rustling in the leaves. I think it was so cold they stayed put to keep warm. In comparison to my normal hunts in this location that morning’s hunt was very quiet. The quiet was welcomed by me, but it didn’t last long as some nearby duck hunters started letting it roll. I checked my phone to see what people on Twitter were saying and to see what time it was. It was about 5 after 7.
A few minutes later I heard a rhythmic crunching noise coming from in front of me and slightly to my right. I’ve heard squirrels so much in this stand that I can quickly tell the difference in sound between the pattern of a squirrel and the rhythmic sound of a walking deer. This wasn’t a squirrel. I instantly reached for my camera and pulled it out of my suit. I knew something was coming, but at this point I didn’t know what. I got the video camera to the top of the monopod and was just about to lock it in position when the quick grip slipped and the monopod rolled off the side rail of the stand. My plan had backfired. The cold weather made the quick grips not hold as firm and my bumping them caused everything to break down. Just what I needed. This has happened a time or two before and it’s easy to correct, but while the camera, quick grip, & monopod dangled on the side of my stand I happened to glance up and caught a glimpse of antlers. I know that getting good footage is great for posting here in the blogs and for re-living the hunts, but at this point I had to make a decision and since I’d seen what looked to be like a good deer I opted to not fiddle with the camera anymore and to focus on the deer. The whole time I was praying that the monopod and/or quick-grip wouldn’t fall down to the ground and spook the deer.
The buck entered my field of view about 65 yards in front of me and was cautiously working his way towards me. There are several oak trees in this location and I frequently have to shoot around them or wait for deer to walk into a shooting lane before I can pull the trigger. I knew the deer had a good rack, but hadn’t gotten a clear enough view yet to know if I was going to shoot it.
With the camera still dangling beside me I put my gun up and searched for the buck in my scope. I couldn’t find the buck as he was hidden just behind a large oak tree. I momentarily panicked when I couldn’t find him in the scope and I raised back up a little to look for him with my naked eye and as I did the buck took a step into an opening. I looked back through my scope and was able to focus on the deer. It was an 8 pointer, but I still didn’t know if it met our game management criteria. I needed to get more of a look at the buck’s rack. The buck zig-zagged his way towards me and even stopped momentarily to rub on a small pine tree.
Finally the buck headed toward the location where I’d been putting corn out for months. I was in shooting position with my safety off and was ready to take a shot if the buck made the cut. As I watched the buck in the scope he had his head down eating corn and eventually he raised his head up and looked straight at me. When I saw the width and height of his rack during this view was when I knew I was going to take the shot. The buck stared at me and then raised his nose up really high and tried to “wind” me. I thought in the back of my mind that my scent should be fine because I had been breathing in the scent of dirt during the whole hunt thanks to some earth scent wafers and my McKenzie Scent Fan bag. After a few seconds of being locked in a stare down with this buck he finally put his head back down to eat corn. At this point he was about 40 yards away from me and was giving me the perfect shoulder shot. I pulled the trigger and the buck instantly fell over right into the corn pile. I took the shot around 7:15. I texted the crew and said “Big Buck Down, gonna need help with an 8 point” and then sat there for a few minutes to calm down and ensure I had my gun back on safety and didn’t rush to get out of the stand. Within an hour we had the buck to the processor and he ended up weighing 175 lbs.
After a long season of holding off on several “iffy” bucks it felt good to get a nice buck on the ground. Ironically the loud sound of the crunching frosted over ground on my way in would ultimately help me out with getting this 8 point. I heard him coming before he got there and even though I had the camera fiasco I was able to get my body into position and get focused on the task at hand where I normally (without the loud crunching ground) probably would have had less time to prepare. It was a great start to a Thanksgiving Day and will be a Thanksgiving that I’ll always remember.
I like Thanksgiving and look forward to it every year. Thanksgiving equals spending time with family and counting blessings, relaxing, eating too much, and … hunting! Last year on Thanksgiving Day I lucked up and got a nice 8 point buck. I blogged about the really cold hunt and titled the blog “Thanksgiving 8 Point”. Well, continuing the streak of luck this year on Thanksgiving Day I got a nice 9 point buck. Accordingly this blog entry is titled “Thanksgiving Day 9 Point”.
Just as last year this Thanksgiving brought with it cold weather. Though, this year the ground was not completely frozen on Thanksgiving morning. It had rained a lot in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and had just finally cleared up. I have deer stand down in some really thick woods that I hadn’t hunted much this season and with bucks still making scrapes in the area I figured I would give it a shot. In most of my hunting locations I have shooting lanes cut and have good visibility. Though, in this location I hadn’t cut any shooting lanes and I knew that any shot I took would be a tight one.
I got to the stand really early. With the stand being in some thick woods I wanted to get there and let the noise of my entrance have plenty of time to die down before prime hunting time arrived. With all the leaves on the ground I did make some noise on the way in, but luckily I didn’t make too much as the leaves still had some moisture from all the rain of the previous 3 days. The wetness of the leaves helped dampen and absorb the sound some.
After I got situated in the stand I noticed that the wind was blowing fairly strong. I thought to myself that I was probably wasting my time with such a strong wind blowing. As the sun slowly started to rise I could hear the duck hunters cutting loose in the distance. Mixed in with the sound of the duck hunters’ shots were loud turkey gobbles. I don’t often hear turkeys gobbling in the fall, much less when it’s really cold and windy. For whatever reason though the turkeys were hammering too.
Once the sun got up I heard a few rifle shots in the distance. I figured that nature must have the animals moving if the turkeys were gobbling, duck hunters were shooting, and then rifles shots were being fired. I scanned the view from my stand from left to right looking for movement. With it being so thick I would be lucky to see anything and even luckier to get a shot off in this area packed tight with oak, cedar, and pine trees. Then just before 7am I saw something move down in front of me about 85 yards out. The wind had been blowing leaves off trees and the flicker of falling leaves had been catching my eye. Initially I thought the movement I saw was just another leaf falling. I kept looking and then I saw a leg move in between two branches. My heart started beating a little, but at that point I couldn’t tell whether it was a buck or a doe. I put my rifle up on the shooting rail of the stand and tried to find the deer in the scope. I looked in the direction where I saw the leg move, but couldn’t find anything in the scope. All I could see was trees. It seems that this is a common occurrence for me… being able to see the deer with my naked eye then not being able to find them in my scope. I had to look into the scope and raise back up out of the scope several times before I was able to find the deer. During this up and down movement my bleat call fell out of my pocket and landed in the foot rest of the stand! I knew for sure I spooked the buck as it was heavy plastic falling directly on metal. It was loud, but in between the leaves rustling in the wind and the deer being far out it somehow luckily didn’t spook him. It probably took less than a minute to find him in the scope, but man it seemed like forever.
Once I finally found the deer in my scope I could only see a portion of him… then he put his head down and disappeared momentarily. Now that I had him in the scope I needed to make sure he was a shooter. I didn’t want to shoot a small buck so I kept watching the area the deer was in through the scope. He raised and turned his head to look behind him. When he made this movement I saw the main beam on his rack and saw how tall and wide it was. Then my heart really got going. The deer was not in a hurry and was pawing at the ground. He took a step forward and I saw his rack move in a gap in between two trees. He was indeed a shooter! I zoomed my scope in and had it zeroed in on his neck. I didn’t want to make a neck shot on the deer (though some would argue that neck shooting is a good tactic), but the thought did cross my mind. I was looking down in between trees and branches in a shooting “window” that was about the size of basketball. I debated shooting the deer because there wasn’t a better shooting lane that the deer would progress to and I also didn’t know which direction the deer would travel. Then the deer took a small step forward and I could only see his neck and the base of his shoulder. I thought to myself that I may never get any other opportunity on this deer and I pulled the trigger. As soon as I pulled the trigger the deer turned, put his white tail up, and bounded into the distance. I didn’t see the deer kick or do anything awkward signaling that he got hit, but I felt that I made a decent shot. All I could do was to sit in the stand and to try to calm down and hope that the bullet didn’t hit a branch as it traveled through the small window of opportunity.
I sat in the stand for a few minutes to calm down and ensure my gun’s safety was on and to listen to see if I heard the deer crash or thrash any. I didn’t hear anything and after a few minutes I climbed down out of the stand and walked in the direction where the deer was when I took the shot. As I walked down I was replaying the scene over and over in my head. Had I hit the deer or did I miss? Opportunities on good bucks like that don’t happen often and I was wondering what happened.
When I got down to where the deer was pawing at the ground I saw several scrapes. The buck was checking his scrape line and I still couldn’t figure out the exact spot where the deer was when I took the shot. I also didn’t see any blood. I started getting worried. My heart beat escalated some. I walked in small circles looking for any drop of blood signaling contact. I never found any. I kept looking back up toward the stand to try to find an opening where I may have taken the shot, but I never found any. I began to get mad. I replayed the scene over and over in my mind. I told myself to calm down and go back and start over again. I went back and started over. Still no blood. I was getting upset with myself at this point. Since I couldn’t find any blood I figured I would walk in the direction that the deer ran. As I walked I saw a spot where some leaves were turned over as if the deer took a “fall-step” or slipped, but that area didn’t have any blood present. I started fanning out in circles around the area where this slide mark was. Still no blood. I continued walking in the direction the deer ran in and then I heard a stick break ahead of me. Even though I didn’t see any blood or see any deer the stick popping represented a small signal of hope for me. I kept walking in the direction the deer ran, but never saw blood or any more fall step / slide marks. I went from glimmers of hope to frustration with every step. Then all of a sudden I saw a deer jump up just ahead of me. It indeed had a nice rack and when I saw this I got excited because I knew that I had hit the deer and that I would be able to trail it. The deer bounded once more then crashed. I just stopped and sat down and watched the deer. I was really deep in the woods and I didn’t want to push the deer any further. The deer didn’t move anymore and after about 10 minutes I slowly walked over to the deer and there laid a nice 9 point, 170lb buck! I snapped some pics of the deer and started texting my friends saying that we had some work ahead of us and I posted a few pics to Twitter..
Here are some pics of the deer
It was indeed a nice buck and I was very lucky to get it. One thing that was different about this one was that the deer never bled any. There was a small entrance wound, but no exit wound. I shoot a 243 and I think it must have hit every bone in there to not have an exit would at 90 or so yards. So there was no hope of a blood trail with this one. The deer never bled until we got to the processor. And speaking of the processor… there were several big bucks there. The deer were definitely moving on Thanksgiving day!
In what had seemed like an impossible hunt I somehow lucked up by being at the right place at the right time and made a lucky shot. It seems I have somewhat of a Thanksgiving streak now. Hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm and I can get a Thanksgiving 10 point next year. I’m already looking forward to next Thanksgiving!
How were your Thanksgiving hunts?
The Long Walk In
I knew bucks would be in the area near the stand and I knew it was time to make the trip deep into the woods. Yesterday I sprayed down really well and carried a bag of corn down to the stand and poured it out in the shooting lane. I felt sure deer would be moving in the area and I just wanted the corn there to potentially get a deer to pause in case I needed to make a shot.
I was eager to get in the woods this morning and since I had to make a long trip in, I got up a little extra early. It was about 40 degrees and the wind was blowing 3 mph in the direction I needed it to be blowing for a chance. The only thing that wasn’t cooperating was the moon. It was very bright… it looked like a flash light in the sky. Since I had a long walk in I unzipped the zippers in my legs and my chest to let my body heat out as I walked. I hate walking a long distance with multiple layers on, getting to the stand and being all sweaty, only to have the sweat dry on me then be freezing. I walked half way in just by moonlight.
The Arrival & The Wait
As I hit the edge of the woods near the stand I sprayed some buck bomb on the sides of my boots. I arrived to the stand and got situated in the stand and left my zippers open until I cooled off. I could hear dogs barking off in the distance and slowly the sun started to rise. As time passed I wasn’t seeing or hearing anything. I felt like I should be seeing deer. I started hearing rifle shots off in the distance and then close by. I bet I heard 7 shots all around me before it was all over. I started getting a little down on things thinking I shouldn’t have hunted that stand. I felt as though the streak would be over. Then around 10 minutes after 7 I heard something. It wasn’t a stick pop or rustling of leaves, but just some sound that caught my attention and I looked to my left. This deep in the woods it’s really thick with oaks and pines so visibility wasn’t the best. I saw something brown moving behind some trees and tree limbs. It was a deer!
My heart instantly started pounding. At first glance I thought it was a doe, but yet it was alone. The deer was probably 40 yards away from me to my left and moving at a steady walking pace. Initially I thought any deer I saw would be heading toward a fresh pile of corn. This buck could have cared less about that corn. He was heading in the opposite direction. The deer went behind a large oak tree and I put my gun up. The deer came out on the other side of the tree and I found it in my scope. Antlers! I could tell it was a buck, but it was so thick I couldn’t get a clear view of the deer’s rack. The deer stopped and stared at me. I wasn’t moving at all and the wind was blowing towards me so the deer couldn’t be smelling me. Regardless, the deer knew something wasn’t quite right.
The buck stood behind some small trees and limbs and continuously moved its head up and down trying to check me out and wind me. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the deer bolted out of there. I’ve seen this scenario happen one too many times. I needed to know if this deer was big enough to shoot as on our club we have game management rules. The deer stood directly facing me and turned its head slightly to the left. This gave me a view of the tines and I could see the thickness in the tines. I knew it was a shooter. I pulled the trigger and the deer ran about 15 yards and dropped!
I tried to calm down and then I climbed down out of the stand. I walked over and found a nice 8 point awaiting me. Here is the picture of the deer as I found it laying
Just when I though the streak was over this buck came strolling through and helped me keep the streak alive.
3 Things I Learned From This Hunt
So now the pressure is really on for next Thanksgiving! If somehow I get 4 in a row I don’t know what I’ll do. I can say this though, Thanksgiving weekend in Chesterfield County sure is a good weekend to hunt from what I’ve seen.
The 2017 deer season has been a long one for me and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Rather, I mean that I’ve hunted harder and more this year than any in the past. As I mentioned in the Black Friday Buck blog, I’ve been getting after it this season. I’ve watched a lot of deer and have been chasing a few specific bucks throughout the season.
Chasing the Big Boys
I specifically focused on 2 big deer at the start and middle of the season. I couldn’t get the job done with them and they stopped appearing on camera. I believe someone got them. As the season progressed, I had to monitor and adjust.
In late November, after the Black Friday Buck, I moved some cameras around and scouted for sign in different areas of our lease. One location I set up in was in some planted pines not far from a creek. I hoped I could see what was traveling the creek, but was unsure as I hadn’t been hunting that area.
It only took about a week of the game camera being up when I saw a nice buck with a split brown tine that I had not seen anywhere else. He was very wide, not too tall, and looked heavy. As it was late November I figured this buck was “cruising” as they call it when bucks roam around areas they don’t normally go to looking for does to breed.
Needless to say, I was intrigued and kept paying attention in this area. I continued hauling corn and checking game cameras and noticed this buck was coming in every now and then. After he appeared multiple times I thought I might have a chance to get him, but knew I’d have to be lucky for that to happen.
Cat & Mousing Me
Over time it seemed like this deer knew when I hunted! I would hunt and check my game camera a week later and find that the deer was coming in either before or after I hunted… sometimes in the dark, sometimes in the daylight. It was frustrating. I’d hunt on a Sunday morning and leave in time to get to early service and the deer would come out 30 minutes after I left. Surely God wanted me in church instead of in the woods, but I won’t lie I was tempted ;-)
It became almost like a chess match with nature and I continuously lost. I then tried changing things up. I’d park my truck in various locations, I’d drive in with my lights off, I’d walk in extremely quietly, etc. Regardless of what I tried, nothing seemed to work.
Adding to the frustration was the fact that this deer was impossible to pattern, likely a reason he got so big. He never came in on a schedule. The days in between his visits weren’t consistent. He’d not come at all for 7 days then show up 3 times in 2 days. Then he’d take a few days off and come 2 days in a row. And yes, he always came when I wasn’t there
Getting this deer would be a test of skill yes, but mostly of determination and persistence.
I moved around and hunted different stands because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on that one deer and in that one area. Though, like any hunter, it’s hard to get the big buck off your mind. As I spent day after day and week after week trying to figure out a solid game plan, hauling corn, and checking game cameras I started to think I was crazy because this mission was nearly an impossible one.
The obsession may be hard to explain if you’re not a hunter, but I’m sure many of you understand where I’m coming from. This deer was in my head and was seemingly always a step ahead of me. When you try to hunt specific deer, it starts to eat at you after a while when you can’t line things up. As the season was winding down getting this deer became a border line obsession.
Week after week I failed to the point of wondering why I even kept trying.
The Lead Up
Christmas came, and the cold weather had set in. It was unusually cold by South Carolina standards. A big cold front made its way in and temperatures were in the low 20’s to 30’s the week after Christmas. The season was drawing to an end, food sources were low, and the temperature was supposed to drop over 10 degrees on New Year’s Eve.
I hoped that the deer would feel the temperature/pressure change coming and be on their feet, but as you most likely know, late in the season a lot of deer go nocturnal. I was optimistic, but not holding my breath. On top of this the moon had been getting brighter and fuller during this time period so deer would mostly likely be walking all night long. The saving grace on this day was the cloud cover. It was overcast, and the clouds blocked the sun. It was a cold, winter day - the perfect kind of day to hunt and the type of day you dream about when you’re sitting in 90-degree humidity getting eaten alive by mosquitos in the early season.
Interesting Note – He Didn’t Travel Far
One interesting thing I should mention was that this deer only showed up on this one specific camera. A normal practice of hunting, I do a little recon with a few game cameras that I move around to see what deer are in various areas. With several cameras nearby I was surprised that this deer only showed up on this one specific camera. I’ve not seen him anywhere else all year long. I believe he was either bedding very close by and not traveling far or either he was traveling a very restricted path to wherever he was going.
In the past I’ve seen deer tighten down the geographic areas of travel as the season progresses. I think they sense hunting pressure and react accordingly. However, this deer did not roam too far. He was disciplined in his movements and I would have also have to be disciplined and persistent, beyond the point of obsession to succeed.
It was New Year’s Eve and it was a Sunday. I’d gone to church and eaten lunch. I headed out around 3:45. It was cold and the wind made it colder. I had on nearly every layer I could find plus a Thermacare back wrap with heat pockets and 2 hot hands inside my gloves. I walked in (it was more like a waddle in due to the numerous layers I had on) and got in the stand as quietly as I could.
Several of my friends were also hunting and we were all texting on a group chat. Around 4:35 I had a small deer enter the narrow shooting lane. It was either a button buck or yearling doe, definitely too small to shoot.
I texted the crew and told them I already had a deer in the lane. Seeing a deer this early seemed positive to me. I was hopeful that they were moving. I watched this deer for a few minutes and occasionally looked down at my phone while the guys were talking. After the deer had been there for a few minutes it looked to its right very quickly, then to its left as if it was alarmed by something. I could tell the deer heard something, I just wasn’t sure what. I took the above pic around 4:42 and sent it to the group chat. As soon as I did the young deer just bolted off the corn pile and out of the lane. His abrupt exit got my attention because I knew that could potentially mean he saw another deer.
One of the guys responded to our group text and I momentarily looked down at the phone and read the message. When I looked back up I saw a big deer already in the lane, facing me, and with his head down eating corn. Within seconds this deer had entered the lane and started eating. He wasn’t wasting any time, and neither was I.
I slowly raised my gun and looked through the scope. I could see the crown of his head, the top of his neck, and his back. I dialed in the scope a little to zoom in closer. The first thing I saw was the split brow tine that I’d seen in game cam pics before. In that moment I knew exactly which deer it was and that I would indeed be pulling the trigger.
I’ve always thought it’s not the best shooting position when a deer is facing you or basically in any scenario where you weren’t going through vital organs (a broadsided or quartering shot). However, in this scenario I had good light, knew the deer was moving quickly, and any wrong move would result in the deer leaving the shooting lane. I couldn’t wait or give him a chance.
I put the crosshairs at the base of his neck as if to shoot down through his neck aiming for critical mass. I was also worried that at any moment he would quickly raise his head up. The deer was about 45 yards from me and all I could think about was a smooth trigger pull. I reminded myself to squeeze off slowly and not flinch. I pulled the trigger as smoothly as I could. The gun went off and the deer dropped on the spot! Talk about excited, I was pumped up!
At 4:44 I texted the group chat “BBD!” which means “Big Buck Down!”, an abbreviation often used by deer hunters. Since I had just sent a pic of a small deer 2 minutes earlier the guys responded with “What?”, “Are you serious?”, “For real?”. BBD is not a message sent often or in a joking manner!
I started shaking and started getting down out of the stand. I couldn’t believe it. It was the eve of the last day of hunting season and this huge buck showed up in perfect shooting light. I went down to the buck and started snapping pics. I got more excited as I approached and was still in disbelief, it all happened so fast.
I sent the crew the following pictures so they knew I wasn’t joking!
I then called for assistance with loading the deer and help was on the way. Since it was early I hoped we could get some decent pics before dark. I texted my wife and mother and then made a call to my hunting partner Coach Sam Mungo! Sam and I had sat in this stand numerous times trying to get this big deer. From the group chats, texts, & phone calls we were all excited.
It had finally happened. The specific deer I was hunting made a mistake and I was finally in the right place at the right time.
As I tried to calm down and waited on help to come there wasn’t much to do other than wait. I just laid down in the shooting lane still not believing what had just happened. I flashed back to all the time and energy I’d spent hunting this season, all the work done, unsuccessful hunts, early mornings waking up heading out into the freezing cold, and drive that led to the moment I was in and I just laid there. It was a relieving moment. I could finally relax. I took a few pics in that moment.
Once help arrived I was able to get some pics holding the deer.
Reflection and Thank You’s
I guess when you put a lot of time and effort into something, whenever it finally happens, at some point, you look back on things. As I laid there in the pine trees and throughout the rest of the weekend I thought about the journey leading up to that moment. It has indeed been a long ride, but one that I was fortunate enough to end on a positive note.
In the end I was glad that the hunt happened so quickly because I didn’t have time to get nervous and get all worked up. If I would have seen that deer walking across a field I would have probably been so nervous by the time he got close enough to shoot that I would have missed him.
I do need to thank a few people here as well. Thanks to Jason Fararooei for letting me use his 308 which was a significant part of the deer dropping on the spot. I need to thank Gavin Jackson (and family) for helping me do a lot of work in the deer woods, stand assembly, hauling/cutting/trimming and just work in general this season. Without their help that stand and set up wouldn’t have come together like it did.
I also need to say a big thank you to my wife! As mentioned in the Black Friday Buck blog, we are expecting our first child in February and as such I’ve been hunting hard in the last season before the baby arrives. Holly has put up with me hunting at all possible chances this season when many times my hunting inconvenienced her in some way. She has been very gracious and understanding while I frequently messed up her scheduling, planning, and social activities! I told her that I can now close the chapter on the season and am ready to focus on putting as much time and energy into figuring out how to be a dad as I did hunting… at least until turkey season comes around in April! (just joking)
2017 was a good season…
This week our high school football team had a Thursday night game and on the way back from the game we saw about 6 deer in various places along the road. I thought this was a good sign since the deer were moving, but I had hoped they wouldn?t move all night and thus not be out in the morning.
I think I stepped on and broke every stick possible on the way into the woods. I hate to make a lot of noise on the way in, but today I wasn?t too successful at the quiet entry that I hoped for. I headed back to the same stand from last week where I saw the does. I had taken some corn out there and nobody had been back since. I finally got situated in my stand and waited on the sun to rise. While waiting, I sent a few text messages to friends who were also up early. The old man gives me a hard time about texting while hunting, but it does help to pass time.
Soon it was light enough to see well in the woods. I noticed some movement over my right shoulder to the corn pile that is at my 5 o?clock. A deer? This early? Yep, that's exactly what it was. The white?ish-grey ring around this deer?s eyes really stood out to me for some reason. Maybe it was the contrast from the dark that surrounded everything in the forest with the light color around the deer?s eyes. I slowly began to turn to get into better position. As I turned I could see the deer moving its head up and down. I got to where I was in a semi-comfortable position and then I saw antlers on the deer?s head. Because of the lighting, it was difficult to see exactly how many points were on the rack, but I knew that it was a buck. The rush started to come over me as the deer continued to eat corn. Soon enough I was able to make out how many points were on the rack and it was a 6 point with an extremely high rack. It had a good body too. I?ve seen some 6 points that were measly looking characters, but this one was thick for his size. I?m guessing he would have gone around 140 lbs. Maybe he?s been eating enough corn around there to keep him healthy!
On this track of land, we are not shooting any bucks unless they meet certain criteria. This buck did not meet the criteria because it wasn?t old enough and the rack wasn't big enough. So, I knew I wasn?t going to shoot this one, but I didn?t know if he was by himself. After holding in this semi-comfortable position for a while, it started to become not-so-comfortable. I?m sure all hunters know what it?s like to be locked frozen in an awkward position and trying to hold it for a long period of time. With the deer 20 ? 30 yards away, I didn?t want to spook him even though I knew I wasn?t going to shoot him. So, I slowly started to move when he had his head down. There were also a few trees that were between him and me. I rotated and moved until I got into a relaxed position. Once I got back comfortable and just sat quietly.
The squirrels had started to move about the forrest. They say the "woods wake up" when all the birds, animals, and random sounds you hear in the woods start to come out and move. The woods was definitely awake by this point! Nearly 20 minutes had gone by and I turned slowly back around and the buck was still there! I then reached for my camera and got it out of my pocket and turned it on. ( I should mention here that I love the zipper pockets in these pants that are made for easy access once you sit down.) If I wasn?t going to shoot him, I might as well take a picture to post here on the blog. I turned and got the camera ready and he had no clue. Though, I could barely see him because of the trees. I could clearly see his hind end and legs, but his head was behind a large pine tree. I held and held with the camera up. I waited on him to take a step, but he never did. The squirrels were getting closer to me. The buck heard the squirrels and started peeping around?.up and down he went with his head...up and down...several times at random intervals. He was staring dead at me, but heard the squirrel that was in the tree beside me. The squirrels didn?t spook him though. Sidenote: I?m always amazed at how loud squirrels are in the woods in contrast to how quiet deer are. Many times I hear a noise and think it?s a deer, but it?ll turn out to be a squirrel. Deer are stealth creatures! So, I held the camera for about 5 minutes and even took a picture, but it was too blurry to post. You couldn?t really make anything out about the picture other than leaves. So the deer eventually walked back into the woods.
I sat there for about an hour after that hoping to see him again or hoping to see some does come through. Nothing happened though and that was it. There was still some corn left out there, so I?ll be back in the near future hoping to cross paths with a big one.
Also, I wanted to make note that the Solunar Forecast said that these few days were good days for deer hunting and, as you just read, I did see a deer today. I?m not sure how much stock I place in the Solunar forecast, but I?m going to watch it closely on the site this year and compare when I see deer in contrast to the phases of the moon. More to come on that later.
To give you some visuals, I took a few pictures before leaving the stand so as to help you picture what I?m seeing in the woods.
Here's my vantage point
The inverted view...that's a good looking pine tree there!
The stand in the woods
My friends and I had camped all weekend at our club and had taken a few does and some smaller bucks over the course of the weekend. My son was with me Saturday night when I took a nice doe and that was only the second time he’s been with me while I’ve taken a deer.
I left my camper out there with the idea of putting it up Monday and I’m glad I did because I’m not sure I would have gone without it as it was 20 degrees! Though, I knew it would be a great morning. We have still been seeing bucks chase does, so I knew it could happen at anytime.
I had been hunting hardwoods and cut-overs a lot, but on this hunt I decided to hunt an open low cut field. I’m glad I had my Thermos with me too because man it was chilly. I had just finished a cup of coffee and decided to use my heat bleat call. I hit the call and about 5 minutes later I look straight ahead and see nothing but horns!! It happened so fast, he was looking backwards giving me a quartered back view. All I had was a neck shot so I took it. I hit him and he dropped right in his tracks. It was only then that I saw the doe about 20 yards away. I believe the bleat call brought her out and he followed.
It was a wonderful day in the deer woods of SC. I’ve been blessed with so much and the time in the woods paid off. I love this time of year! I might feel that my season is complete, and in many ways it is…but there is a lot more time to be spent in the woods until January 1st! The rut maybe on its way down, buts it’s still on none the less.
Below are pics of the buck: