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…
The Jackson household is full of hunters. I have three boys and a girl and they can all shoot better than me! As they’ve grown we’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors hunting and fishing with them. They are now getting to the age where they can handle a gun by themselves. Of course, they never hunt alone as we hunt in pairs and I ensure everyone’s arrivals and departures from their stands. The kids are motivated to learn more about hunting and are eager to gain responsibilities. They are growing up right in front of our eyes.
The past two deer seasons I have been preparing for my middle son (Bryson) and youngest son (Kingston) to shoot their first bucks! My oldest (Caiden) harvested his first buck 3 years ago at the age of 7 and that's what I hoped would happen with my other two.
Rules for the First Buck
Now you should know that for my kid’s first bucks I have no restrictions on the size. Your family may operate under different rules and that’s fine, but that’s not how it is at our house. We have plenty of deer in our area and I wouldn't take away the potential excitement from the kids getting their first buck trying to make them wait on a trophy buck. Kids have short attention spans and success in the field, (whether a Boone & Crocket deer or not) is my initial goal for them. I want them to be encouraged and feel that hunting is something that they can be successful at. I believe as a kid they should enjoy and appreciate the experience and not have to be on pins and needles worrying about if they shot the wrong buck. I don’t want them to hunt putting pressure on themselves. Again, I know some of you may not agree with this tactic, but my goal is for them to not be discouraged early on in their hunting careers. Also, I manage this land and we eat deer and hog meat every night and we have yet been able to eat horns!
Bryson’s First Buck
As I teach the kids about deer hunting I like to make them think. To do this, I often ask them situational questions to both help them consider various scenarios and to help them learn to think critically. On September 17th, Bryson and I were discussing strategies for the evening’s hunt. After considering his options, Bryson decided (on his own) what stand he wanted to hunt as he had checked the wind to make sure that stand would be a good one.
I (Dad/Gavin) knew that there was a small buck coming by this stand everyday like clockwork so I had that feeling it was going to happen. However, Bryson didn't know this. As I mentioned earlier, we hunt in pairs… that is, 2 brothers sitting in the stand together. On this hunt Bryson got settled in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they sat still and quiet for about an hour and half. To their surprise a 6 point that weighed 121 lbs eased out of the woods into the shooting lane. As Bryson was eager to get his first buck, he wasted no time getting the Ruger .308 to his shoulder. The deer was about 50 yards out and Bryson slowly squeezed off. Bryson’s decision on the stand to hunt that evening paid off as he made a perfect shot on the deer. The deer ran maybe 15 yards and fell. Bryson was on the board with his first buck!
Talk about excited, he was hyped up and knew that he had just killed his first buck! As excited as he was I think my wife and I were probably more excited for him! We took pictures and as tradition as has it, we bloodied him up at the processor. Later, Bryson told me that the hunt was his best hunt ever and that he thought he wasn't going to see anything and then all of sudden the buck stepped out. Congrats to Bryson on working hard, being patient, and making the perfect shot!
Kingston’s First Buck
My youngest son Kingston has been hunting with me probably 50+ times and for whatever reason we never could get him on a buck. We’ve had a bunch of close calls but just couldn't make it happen.
On September 23rd that all changed…
Kingston had been hunting for 2 days straight as he was extra-motivated to kill his first deer since he now was living with the self-imposed pressure of his brothers already having killed their first bucks. Here again I asked him questions about where to hunt, why to hunt there, and the wind. Kingston picked his stand and I told him that would be a good stand because the wind was perfect. I also knew that there were several bucks working that area and I hoped one would show up in shooting light.
Kingston got in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they had been sitting for about an hour. It was getting about time for deer to move when two bucks stepped out on the edge of the field at about 100 yards. As you may imagine, Kingston didn't waste a second getting down to business. He wanted to get the monkey off his back so he was ultra-focused.
Within a minute he was in the Ruger .308 and had made great shot on one of the bucks! The deer fell on the spot and rolled about 10 feet. I was sitting in another stand not too far away and I knew he’d got his first buck when I heard a gunshot then heard them hollering and celebrating. You could have heard it from a mile away. The boys got down from the stand and headed toward the deer.
Little did they know that when they got down to the deer the other buck would be standing in the woods looking at them. Yes, I found this amazing as I always try to be quiet, control my scent, and do everything that to not spook deer and here these kids were yelling loudly and the second buck stayed around! Well, with the second deer staring at them Caiden did what you would expect. He pulled up the .308 and shot it! It was a Jackson brothers double-buck hunt!
Now the excitement was really happening! They boys had practiced their shooting this summer and it paid off because no tracking was needed. We just pulled up to the deer, took some pics, loaded up, and headed to the house before going to the processor. One of the best parts was hearing the boys tell their mama the story of the hunt, which we recorded and you can see in the below video. They were amped up to the max and talked all night about their first buck!
Bryson age 9 finally got his first buck on Sept 17th and Kingston age 7 got his on Sept 23rd which was a double-buck hunt with his older brother Caiden! Needless to say, it has been exciting times around our house lately… and I may have to order more deer tags if they keep it up like this.
Ok so I did get a little extreme on Kingston’s bloodying at the processor, but it's what he asked for.
Congrats to Kingston for his patience and congrats to all the boys for their hard work and shooting abilities. So far, this past summer and deer season the kids have all been very helpful and have hunted every time they could go. Caiden has really lucked out as he was able to be with both of his brothers when they shot their first buck. Now that the hard work has finally paid off we can start the discussions about game management, mature deer, and trophy bucks.
I’m sure this story is just one of many more to come. It's awesome and exciting to watch and experience these kids growing up, learning about the outdoors, and shooting their first bucks. We are indeed blessed and we give God all the glory!
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.
It’s been relatively warm in our area of South Carolina thus far this year, but this past weekend we had the first cold snap of the season. And that’s all our family needed to get pumped up to go deer hunting!
I guess I should back up a little though… We live in Chesterfield County tucked just inside the SC line right along highway #9. Just across the NC line a new outdoor store called Reel Determined Outdoors has opened and people from our town have slowly been checking it out. Last Friday I went up to the store and learned that they were hosting deer competitions so I signed me and my son up! I signed myself up in the adult division and I signed my oldest son up in the youth division!
Reel Determined was giving away cash for the biggest buck and biggest doe in the adult division and a crossbow for the biggest buck and biggest doe in the youth division! Needless to say this had us pumped up even more to go hunting and to harvest a great deer!
Saturday morning finally arrived we all got up early and put enough clothes on to keep us warm with the freezing temperatures. Caiden, my oldest son who is 8 years old, wanted to hunt a tripod stand where he had killed some does earlier in the year. Yes, he hunts by himself with a 308 rifle! Over the past few years we have worked hard with him to learn about hunting and firearm safety and the right and wrong of a firearms.
His papaw Tim took him to his stand and got him situated. His Uncle Cody, his Papaw, and myself went and got in our stands that pretty much surrounded him. We specifically told Caiden not to shoot anything unless its body was bigger than the deer he shot earlier this year. We told Caiden that the bucks should be moving and to try to hold off on a doe if he could stand it.
In the stand it was cold and I just knew one of us was going to be successful. I got in my stand and had been sitting there for about 20 minutes and I decided to hit the grunt call! It worked just like it was supposed to. A nice buck with a one side of his horns broke off came running in like clockwork. I froze up and didn’t know what to do!! I pulled up on him and clicked the safety off but just couldn't bring myself to shoot the deer because I couldn't see exactly how big he was! Oh what a mistake after the fact. Yea I so wish I would have pulled the trigger but hey the good Lord has bigger plans for me!
My morning didn’t go so well. The rest of the morning I didn’t see or hear much until about 7:30am when I heard Caiden shoot! I was so happy and thought sure he had killed a monster! So I took off towards him and I find his Uncle Cody there also wanting to go see why he had killed. We got to him and asked what did he get and he tells us “I don't know but it’s a lot of meat for the freezer!” Oh Jesus not what I wanted to hear!
We went down to where he shot and we find a 112 pound doe! Yep he couldn’t stand it long enough to hold off for a buck, but I’m sure we all remember those days. And in retrospect I’m so glad he took the deer.
We got the deer loaded up and took it up to Reel Determined Outdoors to be weighed in for the competition. They weighed it and put his name on the board and at that time he was in first! We were going back Saturday afternoon to try and get on the board again but it didn’t work out for us! After our afternoon hunt, Caiden's papaw and his uncle took him up to Reel Determined to see if he had won.
They called me at 8 pm and told me that Caiden had won and he got a Carbon Express Covert Crossbow! Wow what a setup! They told him to come back and get it sighted in and instructed on how to use it. Of course on Monday we were on our way right back up there to get it all taken care of so he could shoot it. The guys at Reel Determined Outdoors were so professional and patient with us. They gave us a Crossbow 101 and I am very pleased with everything. If you get a chance you should really stop by and see them. Not only do they have a nice store, but they are willing to help you with any of your hunting and fishing needs.
And we sure do have one happy young crossbow hunter in our house now. Thanks Reel Determined Outdoors!
We then climbed down and located the deer. It was a nice 7 point with a 19.5 inch spread that ended up weighing 190lbs. Once we located the deer Jason got on his knees and he praised Jesus for it! He had made what we thought was impossible, possible, like He always does! It was a birthday hunt that we’ll never forget.
In many ways the story of this hunt parallels the way God often works in our lives. We often make “our” plans and adhere to “our” own envisioned timelines and schedules. We go out and when things don’t work as we think they should or when we think they should we get frustrated. I’ve sat in a deer stand many days when I thought I should be seeing deer and didn’t see anything just like I’ve looked at life many times and felt like things should be different than my current circumstances. Though, we can’t impose our schedule over God’s schedule. His timing is perfect, ours is not. So just when you think you’re down and you don’t see any way to move forward… stay positive and keep listening to those uplifting you and speaking biblical truths to you. Just when you think the light is fading you may just experience God’s grace.
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.
As a SC deer hunter I wanted to make all other SC deer hunters aware of this Bill that was introduced into the Senate on February 12 so that you can voice your opinion.
QDMA sent out an email regarding this and I'm simply re-sharing the info from that email below. Also see the direct link to their email campaign.
NOW is the time to improve deer hunting in South Carolina and YOU are the key to the process.
The SC Deer Management Bill of 2015, S. 454, was introduced into the Senate on February 12, 2015. If it is passed, this bill will make the following two historic improvements to our South Carolina deer laws:
Please follow these simple steps TODAY to show your support for the SC Deer Management Bill:
SUBJECT: SC Deer Management Bill of 2015, S. 454
[ENTER SENATOR'S NAME HERE]:
As a resident of
[ENTER YOUR COUNTY HERE], I encourage you to vote for SCDNR's Deer Management Bill (S. 454).
I am a voter and I have a great interest in deer hunting and management in South Carolina. I am also a member of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). As your constituent, and as member of QDMA, I support S. 454 because it brings greatly needed deer management changes to South Carolina.
For years I have followed SCDNR's research of hunter opinions, deer harvest trends, and the impact of coyotes on recruitment of deer fawns. I support SCDNR's recommendations for a reasonable limit on antlered deer, a tagging program for all harvested deer to provide for enforcement, and a modest fee to support additional research and management efforts. It is time that South Carolina enters the mainstream of deer management and the recommendations proposed in this bill are a step in the right direction.
I hope that you will vote to pass S. 454 during this session, and that you will share my support of this bill with the other members of our county delegation.
Please contact me if you have any questions related to my support of SCDNR's Deer Management Bill.
[ENTER YOUR NAME HERE]
Please join your QDMA leaders in bringing much-needed improvement to South Carolina's deer laws - be a part of history today!
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:
I had scouted an area on one of our tracts of land, and found several good scrapes coming out of a thick bottom up to a food plot on top of a ridge. We placed trail cameras up to get a “look” and got several nice bucks on film.
My next available time to hunt was Wednesday afternoon, and I got in the stand around 3:00. Just five minutes later, I had a spike buck enter the food plot. The spike fed for over forty-five minutes but was very spooky acting.
I had texted my dad who was hunting a separate stand on the same tract of land, to tell him that deer were already moving.
The spike buck kept looking over his shoulder and actually jumped a couple of times, so I was really concentrating on the area where he had been watching. Then all of a sudden, the spike jumped and ran off into the thicket on the other side of the food plot. I thought wow, this could be it and sure enough a heavy dark horned buck stepped out. The buck started towards me in a slow walk and I chose not to shoot him head on, so I held off. Around the 70 yard mark, he stopped and turned giving me a good shoulder (lung) shot. I squeezed a shot off and he bolted into the thicket only running for 30 yards.
I texted my dad again, telling him BBD. He congratulated me and said, he would see me after dark.
This buck weighed in at 185 lbs and had a 17” spread. The right main beam had been broken off and which adds character to him and this hunt.
Truly Blessed with a good memorable hunt.
Good Hunting ~ Daryl
Team Wrecking Crew