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​Thanksgiving Day 9 Point

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

Clint Patterson's Thanksgiving 9-Point Buck

Clint Patterson's Thanksgiving 9-Point Buck

Clint Patterson's Thanksgiving 9-Point Buck

Clint Patterson's Thanksgiving 9-Point Buck - Broken tine pic

Clint Patterson's Thanksgiving 9-Point Buck In Honda Pioneer

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?

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