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.
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?
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 had a pretty busy weekend over this past Thanksgiving Holiday. I spent a lot of time in the woods and swamps and don?t have much to show for it, but then again that?s why they call it hunting rather than shooting! Though, I don?t mind getting out in nature and not shooting anything?it?s a whole lot better than being at work!
We knocked off early at work on Wednesday and I headed down to Pageland. I wasn?t able to hunt that evening because I gave the devotion at football practice that night. After that we had the Turkey Bowl draft and then I headed down to the in-laws! We stayed up pretty late talking and I got to bed around 12:30.
During the day on Wednesday I gave Mr. Bruce Puette a call to see if he wanted to go hunting Thursday morning. Just like clock-work Mr. Puette assured me that he was going. I should have known he was going because if the sun rises, Mr. Puette is usually in a stand somewhere! I woke up at 4:15 in order to get ready and meet Mr. Puette at his hunting club. Though on Thursday morning he put me in a nice stand overlooking a gas line and he hunted a different stand. I had the perfect setup and a good stand, but nothing came through. I could hear the duck hunters wearing some ducks out in the distance though. Those guys were shooting every couple of minutes. There are obviously some ducks flying down around the Pee Dee River!
After the hunt with Mr. Puette I ate a very nice Thanksgiving lunch with my in-laws. I ate enough to hold me over, but I didn?t over-eat because a big game was up next on the schedule. That?s right?the Turkey Bowl was scheduled for 3 o?clock and I needed to be there and ready to play! You may be wondering what the Turkey Bowl is?well if that?s the case then please refer to the blog entry I wrote for 2MinuutinVaroitus.com where I describe the Turkey Bowl in full. Some of my Finnish friends asked me to write a blog for their web site so they sent me a shirt and I gave it a whirl.
Thursday evening we ate yet another Thanksgiving meal and this one was at my parent?s house. If you know my mama, then you know she can cook and she puts on a big spread every Thanksgiving. We ate until we almost couldn?t move. I was so tired from the Turkey Bowl that I had to go and lay down at a decent hour. I think I got to bed that night around 11.
I was up early Friday morning to go duck hunting with Gavin Jackson and his duck hunting crew. I got all layered up and stepped outside. As soon as I got outside I knew something was off. It wasn?t cold at all. I started getting hot after a few steps. When I got into my car I noticed that it was only 60 degrees whereas the day before it was 38 degrees. Some kind of warm front had come through the area and I didn?t even wear my jacket in the swamp!
We made our way into the swamp and got everybody set up. We had 3 hunters and me and I set up on the beaver dam to try to video the event. It started to get light and we anticipated birds flying in from everywhere, but for whatever reason, nothing much was flying. We had 4 birds come in real low very early and they got out of there quick, but it was too early to shoot plus they were in and out very quickly. After that we only saw a handful of ducks in the distance and before too long the hunt was over. We had our own little ?lame duck session? in the swamp. Though, the lack of birds flying didn?t stop me from filming and taking pics. I got some good footage of the setup and guys walking through the swamp. Videoing while duck hunting adds another factor into the mix that is somewhat scary?water. I was scared of dropping my camera in the water, but what can you do right? The tripod also got introduced to swamp mud on this trip. Even though we didn?t get any birds much less a shot at a bird, we still had a good time.
I had to be at Central at 12 because the bus was leaving for Woodruff at 12:30. We made our way over to Woodruff and I thought the bus we were on was going to break down before we got there. We did end up making it and I have to say that our game this past weekend vs. Woodruff was one of the best high school games I?ve ever been a part of?coaching, playing, or watching. Woodruff had a nice stadium and it was jam packed, music everywhere?it was the electric, Friday Night Lights environment that you read about and only experience every now and then. The game was full of big hits, big plays, momentum swings, and it was down to the wire. In the end we won the game and everyone was on edge until the clock struck zero. Woodruff had a really good team and be on the lookout for their Qb next year. He was running the show and doing a good job with it. Now we?ve got Dillon again and I hope we can break our recent trend with them!
After I woke up I headed back down to the in-laws and hung out for a while. We even did some painting for my mother-in-law! It never hurts to keep the in-laws on the good side I guess. Later that evening I hunted near their house from my climbing stand. I?m not a big fan of climbing stands, but every now and then I?ll break bad and use mine. And it took me more time to get situated because of my use of the safety harness, but I always use it when in the climber. It can be aggravating, but the downside would be a whole lot worse than if I wasn?t wearing it.
In this setting I was overlooking a swamp behind me and a fire break in between some planted pines and oaks in front of me. I had some corn out beneath me and also on the fire break. I had been putting corn out there for a while, but had never hunted there and I figured it would be the perfect set up. I thought that I wouldn?t be able to film out of the climber, but after using it I think I could use my Irwin Grip and make it work. We shall see in future attempts!
On this hunt I saw everything but a deer. I had some wood ducks fly over me and then came the geese. Throughout the whole afternoon I had 2 squirrels running around below me. Sitting in the stand I had my back to the swamp and I figured that if something was walking through the swamp that I would hear it and be able to turn around in time. Well I was sitting there in the quiet when all of a sudden I hear something slurping water behind me. I was frozen. I knew there was no way a deer could have walked through there that quiet enough to get close to me and drink water. I slowly turned around and 2 huge raccoons were quietly walking through the edge of the swamp. I tried to get them on film, but by the time I turned around they had gotten behind some brush and I couldn?t get the camera focused on them. I guess they came down from one of those trees or something. I have no idea how they got that close to me. Right before dark I had, what I thought to be a chipmunk, come out of some thick brush to my right. It was getting dark and was difficult to see, but after looking at the bird it was plainly a quail. I haven?t seen them around much, but I definitely knew what it was. I watched it walk around for a bit and then it flew off. It was a neat afternoon in the woods with the exception of not seeing any deer!
Below is a video with visuals from the weekend...no ducks or deer harvested, just scenery!
By the time Sunday morning came around I had to sleep in. The weekend was wearing me out and I didn?t want to fall asleep in church! No hunting on Sunday afternoon as we watched film at the coaches meeting and then I spent some time with the wife!
Overall it was a good, long, weekend. Thanksgiving, good food, the Turkey Bowl, an exciting football game and road trip, duck hunting, and deer hunting made up my whole weekend. I didn?t bring anything home other than myself, but it sure was fun. I was actually glad when Monday came around because with this kind of scheduling, I have to go to work just to rest.
First of all, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I have been on the road for work, so I am just now getting to my weekend blog. I hunted Thursday through Sunday and wasn?t all that successful. However, I did get some video to share with you guys. And even though there was not many deer sightings, I did get to spend time in the woods and that is a gift in itself.
Thursday morning I sat in the stand across from my house and right next to my uncle?s house. Walking into the woods I spooked some deer and felt the aftershock. I sat from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. and all I saw was squirrels. I got in the stand around 2 p.m. that evening. My dad sat in the wooden stand that overlooks a 2 acre plot of Biologic. I sat in a 20-ft metal buddy stand overlooking a half acre of Biologic. Again, no luck. When am I going to see some deer!
Friday morning was no better. I got situated in the wooden stand, in the field, about 6 a.m. When the sun rose, all I saw was FOG! I sat until about 10 a.m. and decided to get out because the fog was not any better. Friday evening I did not end up going hunting because I fell asleep from 12 p.m. til 4 p.m. So I just got ready to go watch them Eagles beat down Abbeville for the Upper State Championship. On that note, good luck to you guys this Saturday for the State Championship.
Saturday morning I faired a little better. I did not see multiple deer, but at least I saw A DEER. I went back to the lock-on stand across from my house. When I stepped into the woods, I was praying I would not hear deer running away. Luckily I didn?t. It was about 5:50 a.m. when I got situated into the stand. Around 8:30 a.m., I had all but given up on seeing a deer when I spotted a body coming out of the thicket in front of me. As it approached the corn pile, I thought it was a doe. I pushed the safety off of my .44 Mag because I had made up my mind that I was going to shoot a doe if I saw one. Just to make sure the deer was a doe, I picked up the binoculars. Good thing I did because I spotted inch long horns on top of the deer?s head. So I put the safety back on and just enjoyed watching the deer. I really wish I would have had a camera because it was very neat watching him eat the corn on the cob. He would eat all the corn on one section of the cob and then roll it with his nose and eat another section. Something I did not understand was why he was being picky on which cobs he would eat. He literally sifted through all the corn to eat certain pieces. At one point his nose was itching, so he used his right back leg to scratch it. When he finished scratching, he must have irritated his nose because he sneezed. When his belly was full, the deer started moving toward my stand headed to the road behind me. Soon as he started my way, I reached for my phone because he was going to walk within 5 yds of me and that would be close enough for my phone to pick him up. He passes really close to me and heads across the road. I sat until around 11 a.m. and then got down. Before getting down, I shot a 360° view of from my stand so you guys could see just how close it is to the road and my uncle?s house. I am not sure if you can?t distinguish my the house, but you definitely can see the road. The clips of the deer and the scenery from the stand are below.
Saturday evening I went hunting with the rest of the WeHuntSC Team on Will?s property. But first, I had to watch them Gamecocks own the Tigers. GO GAMECOCKS!!! Even though none of us had any luck, it was cool to have a change in scenery. Will and his dad really have a nice setup out there. Hopefully the next time I get down, we will have a little more luck.
Sunday morning, I again suffered from the disease called laziness. I had my alarm set for 5 a.m., but I must have turned it off and went back to sleep. I didn?t end up waking up until close to 10 a.m. At least I got caught up on my sleep! Sunday evening, I went and sat in the wooden stand in the field. I didn?t have any luck, but I did get some good footage from the stand. Check out the video below.
If I get to hunt this coming weekend, hopefully I will have some footage of deer. Not scenery!!!
Have a nice week and good luck hunting!
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…