Shoot straight and good luck folks!
Left the house at 3:30, arrived to parking spot at 5:28 and the gear was ready to roll so exit the truck, stretch a lil and walk 1/2 mile to my spot. Dang was it loud walkin.... This area has a ton of little finger ridges, most of them only maybe 100 yds long, steep drops on all sides. My spot is on a ridge that actually runs almost 3/4 mile before it drops off. It has a low saddle and then another decent saddle that leads to a thick area down in one hollow and the other side its a soft drop onto another shorter ridge that parallels mine, there are no other "soft" access between the two ridges. We had walked the ridge once, two springs ago turkey hunting. I liked the area and thought i should go deer hunt it when bucks are cruising. I did that last year after planning for two weeks, every night scouring topo maps to "blindly" find a place to start to learn the ridge. 8:15 in the morning, i had a 4 pt cruise the parallel ridge and i grunted him right up the soft spot and to 15 yards. Plan executed successfully.
Fast forward to today... walking back in, i noticed turkey scratching EVERYWHERE and not much buck sign. There was a good bit of buck sign last year. However, 3/8 of a mile in, i saw a couple rubs and a scrape and then more rubs near my saddle. Lookin good.... There were actually a couple deer on the ridge in the gut leading down into the thick bottom. And i could hear deer chasing down on the other side of the parallel ridge.
I blew a bunch of turkeys out as i was setting up and after it got light, i had one 100 yds away on my ridge, calling, but calling very quietly and infrequently almost as if he knew somethin was going on and he was whispering to try to make contact with anyone else in the flock..."psssst, hey, anybody hear me? Guys, hey, where you at..." I looked up in my marylandDNR app the fall turkey season dates and it ended nov 4th, like ours. Dang it, i was fixin to whisper back, "hey, im over here. Lets hook up..."
The sun started to crest the mountain to the south, still no deer sightings... The wind was super light, the air was super cold and the leaves began to slowly succumb to the hard frost that had enveloped them through the night. Slowly falling became heavily falling, making it tough to not be on edge because there was movement and "footsteps" all around. I got a text from my wife and then the big buck killa Perry Hartman, inquiring of how things were going and i had told them both..."just waiting...". That was right around 8.
At 8:09, there was an area in which the falling leaves had a specific "cadence" to them. Almost immediately, something in my brain smiled. In front of me, in the gut leading to the thick bottom, was a deer. I pulled up the binos to see a yr and a half looking doe angling kinda toward me, but too far out. I had dropped my rangefinder out of the treestand earlier, thats about to matter...;^) She angled up the hill and then turned straight toward me. Then i saw another deer behind her, turned out to be a very little 6 pt. He followed, she was coming my way, but when she got to what i guessed as 35 yds, which is my self imposed limit right now, she began to walk broadside. At that distance, i knew if i guessed 3 or 4 yards off, that could be the difference of a good shot and a regrettable one. I watched as they did their rubber necking dance back and forth across the top of the ridge away from me. She would let him get just close enough to think "maybe..." then she would bolt forward yanking the carrot out from in front of his nose. Nobody likes a tease, lady.....
As they got almost out of sight, unlike her, i was feeling frisky and i got out the grunt call and doe bleat can. I grunted a few short tending grunts, then flipped the can a few times. Then grunted again a couple times. A minute or two later, i heard the special cadence behind me again, straight east. I looked into the sun onto the parallel ridge. Just falling leaves. I look away and hear it again, sounds closer. Look again and again, just leaves giving up their cling and butterflying to the ground. But when i heard it closer, i knew i was missing something. Then, at 50 yards, there he was. Easing my way, angling to come up the edge of the soft spot onto my ridge within 20 yards. I quickly hit him woth the binos and quickly saw that he was a buck i would gladly take. My tree was between us and i calmly started my pre-shot routine as i looked down and hooked my release onto my string loop. Good anchor, pick a hair and ease through the shot.
When i looked back up, there he was, looking at me. I immediately thought, "well, its over". I froze, he stared. He stared, i froze. I was just waiting for him to say 'nuffs enough and be gone. But, its the rut, so he decided all was ok and he would just circle around the other way. Which was fine, cuz he was gonna be 20 yards on my other side. I just needed to get my harnes strap up over my head and get the bow/arrow to the other side of the tree. I did so without getting picked off. Thats when he turned and began heading the original way, while munching on an acorn. I got switched back and at this point i knew it was gonna go down. I got drawn, let him go thru a small hole and stopped him in the next big hole. The arrow was off and it hit him perfect. He sidehilled for 35 yards and then stopped to figure out what happened for about 5 seconds? Then he turned to go back the way he came but began the off balance tilt to his down hill side. I heard him hit the edge of the steep decline towards the bottom of the hollow and he hit the ground, and slid. And slid. And slid. He didnt make it all the way to the bottom, but he sure as heck tried.
I cant explain the feeling, but i know to you all, i dont have to. Its not a big buck. But the "process", the "journey", everything that goes into us doing what we love to do, its just so special when it comes together. It would have been a fantastic day, a BLESSED day even without getting a deer. But when it happens and it happens so well, there just isnt anything else that matters or could change the feeling inside of me. Like the leaves, unable to stay attached to their limbs, i fall apart with an unspeakable joy when i make a clean kill on a deer. I am thankful. Thankful to God for His creation and his not just allowing me, but wanting me to be able to experience it all amd in the end, provide for my family something they love. I am also thankful to all those who have served and helped to give us the freedom to do these things we love. Freedom can seem too easily free, but its not, for those who risk it all and those who have loved ones that risk it all just for us to have the freedom. Thank you vets.
I will attach a few pics from the day. They dont do the hunt justice nor could my limited ability to use the best words to paint the picture. Its been a bit of a novel, thanks for reading and hopefully some of you enjoyed it!
Now we fox, coyote, and bear hunt and fill deer tags we didn't fill during archery, and if we want...We get to use firearms
I'm taking off the 2nd gun week to bowhunt. Maybe I can catch some of the 2nd rut??
I'm not better than any person. Period. Not any better hunter than anyone else. Never said I was. I don't understand how having an area to hunt with lots of deer makes any difference??
Getting tired of the CT and MA guys doing live hunts with crossbows and now slug guns. It's the Bowsite. Seems like they have decided that Bowsite is just a hunting site for any weapon. I'm pretty sure there is a reason it was named Bowsite.
The gun thread SHOULD be pulled. A simple PM to Pat explaining that there is a live gun hunt and it makes you want to leave the site would be more than enough most likely to take care of it. Instead, you comment on EVERY live hunt thread, even insinuating the bowhunters are using guns. You obviously read ALL the live hunt threads(that you are tired of), how many times have you ever said "good luck" at the start or "congrats" when someone does kill something. Anything positive??? Ur better than that and the infighting does nothing to promote what we love to do. The world has too many crappy people in it now, dont add to that number.
Get healed up and get in a better mood.