Contributors to this thread:
Dumbest Mistake in the Deer Woods
Hunt long enough and you’re bound to have a moment that makes you question if you know what you’re doing.
One of the dumbest things I have ever done happened to me on Saturday.
I set up in the wrong tree at this spot I’ve hunted 3 times before, before light. I was roughly 20 yards from the “right” tree. An awesome buck made his way by that tree; I can’t say for sure I would have gotten a shot. He picked me off in the new tree before I got a shot.
So. Be honest. What’s your worst “I’m dumb” moment of your deer hunting career?
Trusting my buddy to give me the right range when I knew he was wrong on a spot and stalk hunt. If I had trusted my gut I would have been on the money. Cost me my biggest mule deer. I do have great pics of him though! Ha!
I watched and waited for a week to set up a popup blind to ambush a potential world record typical muley. Just as expected, he followed a doe out of the hills and was going to present a 25 yard shot. Suddenly from the other side a group of does wandered by and were going to cross my scent cone.
Afraid they would smell me and spook the buck (this was before I discovered Nose Jammer...) I panicked and sprayed some doe scent out the window, which spooked them and subsequently the buck and his doe. I never saw him again, but heard about a gigantic buck hit and killed on the interstate, several days later and four miles away.
Set my bino harness with binos range finder and all my tags on a rock while I helped my brother with his first buck, came back about 30-40 minutes later after realizing it and someone had picked them up.
Almost everything I've done this year. . . .
Somehow mistook a 124 inch 10 point for a 140+ 9 point and went into kill mode and killed him.
Couldn't get that same 140+ 9 point stopped in a lane for a shot.
Continuing to hunt a large chunk of timber where mature deer reside, but are damn hard to kill. 23 years and I can't give it up. I know they're there, but they're so hard to kill with so much cover. And frankly, I'm not good enough to get it done consistently
Every year I go into the season really confident, and about this time I question whether I know anything about mature bucks on this farm.
Stalking a mulie in Doug fir and lodgepole covered mountains in SW Montana, I was tracking his large deep tracks is 3 in fresh packy snow for about an hour. He kinda got on to me I think, because his tracks started to stretch out some. At this point, he crossed another set of fresh tracks equally big going the other direction. I decided to abandon the first set and go after this new set. good choice. In less than 10 minutes, I spotted him in open timber, standing stock still slightly quartering away and looking away, and slowly moving his head from side to side. He was at 75 yds. I put trees between him and me, and stalked silently forward. When I reached that tree, I waited until he looked away, and slipped left to put a new tree between us. I did this for about 20 minutes while he just stood there, looking side to side. I'd wait until he looked away to take steps, and I was dead quiet. I finally got to the last tree I could hide behind, and it was at 25 yds I guessed. He was still standing slightly quartered away, perfect shot available. I waited until he looked away to the left, and led my foot out from behind the tree to shoot. I drew and held a second to calm myself, and loosed. To my horror, the arrow sailed an inch over his right shoulder. I had done something completely STUPID! I led with my right foot instead of my left, and it put me in an awkward position, and I totally blew a perfect shot after a extremely gratifying stalk. He bounded away, and my heart sank. I still feel a punch in the gut over that one. He was a beautiful mulie buck that would easily have scored 160 - 170. P&Y candidate. Still hurts. Dumb, stupid, whatever you want to call it, I failed!
Another time, the guy I was hunting with did the dumbest thing I've ever seen a hunter do (regarding blown opportunities)- getting sound shot at was the stupidest thing a hunter ever did to me....He took me to his uncles ranch in Columbus, MT. Huge, beautiful ranch at the foot of the Beartooths along the Yellowstone River. We got there at first light and sat on a hillside overlooking a creek draw with a huge flat plain on the other side. After a while a whole herd of mulies started were spotted running toward us at a quarter mile away. Probably 25 or so, with 6 bucks, two of which were gigantic, way bigger than the rest. They together behind the rest of the deer. All coming right straight toward us to that draw where they would have had to come right up to us when they crossed at the pinch point. All of a sudden when they were all at about 300 yds, Rob got up and started running down into the draw toward them right in plain sight. I was dumbfounded at this idiotic move, which he justified by saying they were moving and could not see him. most of the herd veered left and stayed on the opposite side of the draw, but the two big ones turned right around and went back they way they came from, never to be seen again. Un-freaking real - stupid move on his part. Both those bucks were record book, and we could have shot them both in about 15 more seconds if he's stayed put. Its the same guy that almost shot a hole through my torso at point blank range on an elk hunt. You might have read that post some time ago on another thread. We did proceed to see another 25 bucks that day, and I passed them all hoping to see those two monsters again. Went home with unfilled tags.
Having "Happy Feet", or in other words, moving too much.
Way too many to list. The one that haunts me everytime I think about hunting, and that's alot. Sorry, yes I was gun hunting. Very windy day, saw nothing all morning. Tired of swaying in the tree, I climbed down. When I started walking out, I heard a very faint almost tree frog like grunts one right after another. I just figured they were the tree frogs. As I am walking, they seem to be getting closer. I realize it might be a buck, so I hustle to a very small clearing under another one of my stands. Grunts still coming, so I get all set up, gun at my shoulder, ready to shoot. I wait for what seems like an eternity. Out of the thick, pops the biggest buck I have seen in the woods at this point in my hunting career. It stops at 20 ft broadside. I am on him, pull the trigger and nothing happens. Realizing what I did, the buck now looking at me, I clicked the safety, and before I could pull the trigger he was gone. Just like that back out of my life again. At least he'll be in my memory forever. It's the ones we miss that stick in our heads the longest.
This is rifle elk hunting. Walking into were I plan on sitting for the afternoon hunt. Rifle over the shoulder, power bar in one hand, water bottle in the other. Walk around a ceder and 40 yards up the hill as surprised as I was there was a large 6 point bedded down. If you are in the elk woods you always need to be ready.
hunting a stand when the wind is marginal or following up a less than optimal hit too soon
I got to my stand and realized I had left my safety harness at home. I climbed in and hunted anyway. Didn't fall but very stupid.
getting soaked to the bone on long island WA and not having my E traxs to find my way back to the boat (didn't need it, so I thought,the island only 2.5 x7 miles ) it was a cold dark lonely night that easily could have cost me my life if I hadn't had a way to start a fire and a 6x8 tarp
Millions of things, I'm really not that good at this!
Of late though, I've been guilty of checking txt messages or work emails or Bowsite when in a moment of "nothing is coming doubt"... That's lead to some scrambling to get ready when a deer suddenly appeared!
Rattling in SD this year and then not really paying attention after about 5 minutes. That one hurts. I turned my head to the left and there stood my target 10 pointer at 30 yards looking at me. How do they sneak in so quiet?!
Last September while sitting at a waterhole hunting antelope, had a nice buck come in at 25 yards. Well, instead taking that buck, I killed my blind!
Same as 12 yards.....did a cold calling sequence as soon as I hit my stand. Then cracked out the range finder to range a few trees to my right and when I turned back a 140 class 10 pt was standing right in front of me 15 yards away....couldn`t even move.
fell 18' out of a wooden stand got very lucky did not get seriously hurt. a friend had his family up in the mountain hunting & I had been in the bottoms trying to push some.deer to them I finally made it up & over to the west side of the mountain it was around 3 pm the sun felt good so I took a break which turned into a nap a 6 hour nap i woke up it was 9:00pm pitch black dark & I was 45 minutes from the truck luckily my wife was somewhat used to me getting home late this was way before cell phones were even thought about. I'm lucky I didn't get molested by Bigfoot. & I to have blown it on a few bruiser bucks
In my haste to get in the tree, I walked away from my truck without my safety harness. Realizing my error I quickly went back, retrieved and donned the vest, headed on my way. Once I got to the tree I secured my climber, attached my tow ropes and started climbing. Again haste ruled the day, for I failed to clip my vest lanyard to the tree. Maybe it would be more accurate to say, the 16ft fall Ruled the day, ruined my season and could have taken my life.
Thinking a buck would be alone on December 28th!
One of THE largest whitetails I've ever witnessed in the wild in SE Oklahoma. He was making his way down a funnel and would've put him within 15 yards of my stand. When he looked away from me and about 80 yards out, I reached for my bow. There was lots of trees and briars, etc. between us but I was doing this slowly. I couldn't get my hand in my wrist sling so I flipped my head around to speed things up, not knowing he had another buck with him and in tow. When I turned my head back around, his buddy was staring me down and quickly busted out, taking the guy in the photo with him. My heart sank and I just about threw up as both bucks bound off, tails waving. The buck that was with him was in the 140s and this buck dwarfed him!
Not trusting my buddy giving me yardage on an elk bull this year. I was sure he was off...dumba€€ move! Cost me a nice bull as I sailed it right over the shoulder!-(
Not going hunting when I could have.
jingalls X2. Trust the range finder. I was out this year and got snuck up on a BIG buck. Would have been the 2nd biggest deer I ever shot. Ranged him 31yds. Did it several times. But I just couldn't trust it. I thought for sure I was picking up a yucca in front of him. I just knew he was around 50yds. I would have ate my hat if he wasn't 50yds. Drew back, put the 50 on him and watched the arrow go way over his back. Guess what, 31yds was right.
Many mistakes. Probably worst was immediately following deer that were hit with poor shot, in my early bowhunt years.
I was asked to take a girl hunting, she was the ladies county champ and I they guy champ. She could shoot a bow. I picked her up at 4:30 AM. She was all dolled up and looked pretty good. I could smell her perfume from 10 yards away. Anyway I scored but never filled my tag. She was always asking me to go hunting. Oh maybe not so dumb
Sitting up in a tree, I heard deer coming through the woods… Off to my right. So I started looking off to my right. First I turn my head… Then my shoulders… Then I got myself ALL twisted around, and there were three deer standing in the trail at about 5 yards, right where I could have made the shot without budging in the slightest, had I never looked to my right in the first place.
Too many years of muzzle blast has left me with no meaningful high frequency hearing on my left side, so I can’t localized sound like the crunching of leaves to save myself. So now, if I hear anything I look to my left AND right before I move a muscle that’s not directly connected to my eyeballs.
Yeager - that exact thing happened to me on a black bear hunt that took me 9 years to draw the tag...only bear I saw the whole week and that was the first night.
walked to truck to each lunch and take a break left bow in tree walked up om a giant 180 inch buck bedded he just watched me walk past him at 20 yards
Hunting with my wife about 25 years ago. I was in the tree she was in a natural ground blind short distance away. Heard some light grunting and had a doe walk up close, easy chip yard shot about 15 yds. Didn't see who was grunting softly so figured it was the doe calling a fawn or yearling. Shot her and she ran off. Crash, crash...snap , thud. Wife called out:" What was that??" "I just shot one" (with my recurve); was my reply. "Oh you did not!" She stated (we had only been on stand 1/2 hour. "Yes I did!" I replied.
About then I hear few twigs snap, then a soft grunt. I look almost straight down to my left, one of the biggest bucks I have seen is looking up at me. SNORT!! Crash , crash, crash as he storms away. "What was that??" Asks my wife. "You don't want to know.. "says I. How that big deer snuck right between both of us without being seen still amazes me. Know better to talk loudly even if you shoot one, especially if you have been hearing vocalization.
Not realizing I hadn't re-attached my quiver to my bow after shooting with it off at home. Didn't notice until I was in the stand, pulled my bow up on my haul rope, then went to take an arrow of the quiver that wasn't there...
I misjudged the range on a doe and shot completely under her. To make things worse, I only brought one arrow that day and ten minutes later had 2 of the biggest bucks of my life walk within 20 yards while i just watched.
I sat down in a ground blind once and fell asleep.... and didn’t wake up until about an hour after dark......
Back when I was a kid (30) years ago, I was hunting late season after Xmas. I made my way all the way into my stand, going through thick brush into my honey hole. Got all set up and looked at my bow....the flipper rest I used wasn’t there. It must have gotten caught in the thick brush and popped off. I decided to stay since I was in with a friend. An hour later 9 does walked by ten yards away. I contemplated trying to rest the arrow on my finger and shoot, but was afraid what the feathers would do to my finger.
Forgetting to prime my pan during PA's flintlock season. Thirty yard gimme shot.
Rattled in some thick cover one day and had a 6 point come running right to the base of the tree. I grabbed my bow when I heard him coming and hung it back up as soon as I realized he was t a shooter. It was a bitter cold day. No sooner did I hang the bow up I looked in one of my shooting lanes and the largest buck I’ve ever seen was standing 18 yards broadside. He didn’t spook I let him walk off then grunted a few times he wheeled and started coming back then I felt the wind hit the back of my neck and he was gone!
"I sat down in a ground blind once and fell asleep.... and didn’t wake up until about an hour after dark......"
LOL! I did that once too BB. I was supposed to leave the blind an hour before dark and slowly walk to the tree where my buddy was hunting. I was awakened by him kicking me and saying, 'WAKE UP A*****E! It's DARK OUT!!! I had to buy the beer that night....... ;-)
I’ve had several dumb ones! One that stands out is the time I was set up in front of a couple buddies who were calling for elk behind me. We could see a nice bull about 150 yds ahead of us. I knelt on the ground, ranged a few things and laid the rangefinder on the ground beside me. This was right before dark and 3-4 miles in. Well the bull wasn’t coming in, and you guessed it we tore out at dark and it wasn’t until the following day I discovered I didn’t have my rangefinder anymore! As far as I no there’s still a nice Leopold rangefinder way back in some ravine in the Breaks if anyone’s interested in looking...
Last season I was hunting the shotgun season in Ohio and i had already taken two great bucks with my bow in different states so I just wanted my dad to get one. So I was hunting at the north end of the 125 acre farm where we rarely see much and letting my dad have the south part with the crops. After sitting all day opening day with only seeing a small 4pt I told my dad the morning of the 2nd day if I hadn't saw anything by 4pm I may try some rattling. I sat til lunch without seeing anything so I decided to move 200 yds for the evening hunt when I got almost to the tree I was going to climb I jumped two days out of their beds. Well 4 hours later I woke up from a short nap ( it was 3:58) and decided to try to rattle. I hit the horns together and made a few grunts then snuggled back into my climber and got warm and dozed back off. The sound off a twig breaking awoke me and standing 40 yds from me with his nose in one of the beds of the does I jumped earlier was the biggest buck of my life. I raised my gun as he was lip curling and shot, he jumped straight up and took off but stopped 60yds from me, and I sent another slug at him. Same reaction, jumped up and took off, this time he stopped about 100 yds away and all I could see was about a 6" area behind the shoulder and by this time i was fully awake. Luckily my 3rd shot was a perfect hit and he ran 20 yds and piled up. I looked at my phone and it was now 4:06 so I'd fell asleep mins after rattling and just about missed killing a 193" buck. I haven't fell asleep in the stand any this season
I have the uncanny ability to set up my stand in the most crooked uncomfortable trees in the forest!
Dumbest mistake, regardless of weapon, is not being ready to shoot when game appears. They don't always stand and pose. They may 'make' you within seconds of appearing. Camo, scent control etc. are no substitute for being in the game.
Lost track a long time ago and probably many mistakes didn't even realize I was making.
A few years back I had a nice buck come in just after a snowstorm on a cold day. I was at full draw and he was 15 yards. I was settling the pin on him and when I moved the bow down I went past the let off and the bow jerked enough to spook him. He ran to about 25 yards behind brush and could never get a shot and he just walked away.
My biggest mistake was forgetting to pack some toilet paper for a morning hunt after eating a huge bowl of spicy green chili the night before. Had to sacrifice a sock.
Only one sock? ;-)
But that's what Sycamore tree leaves are for!
In my early days of deer hunting, about 30 years ago, I got drawn for a special firearms hunt at a military base here in Indiana. Saw nothing in the morning, so I chose a different spot for the afternoon. I found a suitable tree on the inside corner of a small, grassy pasture. There was a rub on a small pine tree about 15 yards in front of the tree, so I knew this had to be "the spot". I'd sort of still-hunted my way in, and when I found this tree I could get my climber into, I took the shell out of my 20 gauge (for safety), climbed the tree, pulled up my shotgun and settled in. That was at approx. 2:30.
At 5:00 I hear the unmistakable sound of hooves trotting through dry leaves. Then I see him, a nice, antlered buck moving through the adjacent tree line to my left. There were a ton of branches on the trees between me and him, but I spotted one single opening out ahead of him. And wouldn't you know it? He was going to pass right through it! This was going to be my first deer--in fact, my first shot at a deer--at about 20 yards.
I leveled my shotgun at the opening and took careful aim, waiting for him to step into the clearing. When he did, I put the front bead right on his shoulder, pulled the trigger, and Click! Nothing!! I'd sat there for 2 1/2 hours with no shell in the chamber. I quickly worked the pump and chambered a round, looking for the next best opening. I picked the best spot I had, and BOOM! No reaction! The buck didn't stop, didn't slow down, didn't look. He just kept on trotting.
While jacking in another round, I found another barely-there opening in front of him. BOOM! Again, no reaction. And he walked out of my life forever.
There was a father/son duo hunting nearby. Dad took a nice buck that morning, and was waiting at the truck while Junior hunted 'til dark. As I was pissing things down my leg, Dad was walking up a nearby road to collect Junior. "My" buck crossed the road right in front of him, about 80-100 yards from where I was sitting. We had parked close to one another, and when the duo got back to their truck, I told them what had happened. Dad told me about the buck crossing in front of him, and said it looked like a nice 10-pointer.
If I'd had a shovel, I would have dug a hole and crawled in it. After all these years, I can see it like it happened yesterday.
Too many to count. But, here is a recent one from this season. After an uneventful morning elk hunt where the night before the coyotes were howling all night, I got back to my SUV and drove to an opening on top of the mountain not far from where I had slept the night before. There were a ton of crows and I saw the remnants of an elk carcus from previous hunters. I was tired and decided to nap in the back of my SUV. When I work up a couple hours later I decided to cross the road and check out an area really quick, just a couple hundred yards or so. I didn't bother to bring my bow. Just as I was crossing the road in the wide open field I see a coyote milling around. I quickly muttered to myself and turned around and went back to my SUV to grab my bow just in case I saw it again or a grouse etc. I grabbed my bow, headed back across and then turned around and went back for my rangefinder too. The whole time using my car remote beeping etc. anyway I get across like 70 yards from where I was parked and to my surprise I look over and there is that coyote smelling the ground like a dog in a backyard. I can only assume a pack had been there the night before because of the carcus and he was smelling all the new scents. He was about 15 yards from me in the wide open and completely oblivious to me standing there. I couldn't believe it was happening! I casually took off my sunglasses, nocked an arrow and started to draw when I thought "don't blow this shot, use your rangefinder ". So I pulled out the rangefinder and boy was I glad I did. It said 30 yards when I would have sworn it was 15 or so. I drew back, waited for him to move to my left a little bit to clear a small branch, settled my 30 yard pin as he was qtred to me and let loose. I became befuddled when I never saw my arrow at all of n flight and the dog took off, but he only went 20 yards or so. He stopped and actually started coming back to where he had been, but he looked over and saw me knocking another arrow and spooked. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what had happened. I then paced off where he was standing and figured it out. He was at around 15 yards! Somehow I ranged something in the distance behind him. Had I just trusted myself on the yardage and not the dang rangefinder, I would have shot a coyote at 10,000 plus feet elevation in the wide open at 15 yards with a bow. Not to mention it would have been the first coyote I had ever killed! Insult to injury is I spent a good 45 minutes looking for my arrow that I never did find.
Biggest mistake? Picking up a perfectly GOOD sock someone "LOST" in the woods!!! ;-)
Taking my work phone with me!
Once I didn't bring enough beer and had to go all the way into town.
Not the dumbest I have done but the one I agonized over. I couldn't find my stand opening morning. I knew I was close so I sat down to wait until daylight. I scratched out a little area. I finally spotted my stand and moved some thirty feet. I sat until noon. I got up to stretch my legs and walked about 100 yards. I came back to my stand and at 12:20 another hunter asked me why I didn't shoot. I said no deer came by. He flatly stated that he was tracking a buck that he had wounded. Sure enough I found fresh tracks and a drop of blood in the place of my first sit. The second didn't happen to me. I came upon a campsite a couple hundred yards from where I parked. A man and boy had backpacked over four miles to have the woods to themselves. His jaw dropped open when I told him how close to the road he was. He didn't even offer me coffee even though the coffee pot was in his hand.
Had this guy at 20 yards and coming right down the pipe like he was supposed to. He had his head in the corn and couldn't see me. Decided I would stand for the shot. When I stood there was a little buck directly under my tree that snuck in behind me. He didn't snort but he jumped. When he jumped the big guy turned and snuck back into the slough. Game over.. Thought I was going to puke...
Rifle season and I was ground hunting. Heard noise and a doe came running out of the brush maybe 15 yards in front of me. Got ready for the buck chasing her. One of the biggest big timber bucks I have ever seen is hot on her trail. I pull up the rifle and cannot get him in the scope and he is gone...Look down and the scope is dialed up to 9 from when I sighted it in...I cranked it down to 3 and the silver lining of a nice 9 ptr following the big buck went down with one of the quickest off hand shots of my career...Still think about that big one...
Honestly? Just showing up some days. lol
btnbuck, brother you need to find a new lease.
Had a hunter with all the gadgets you could imagine... from heated jacket to socks. On way into his pop up blind he kept hearing a loud beeping sound coming from his pack. He got aggravated, stopped and located the annoying sound. Turned out to be his cell phone. Turned out that one of his gadgets was pressing on a button that sent a distress call to 911.
He stopped and then somehow the dispatcher started talking to him. He had to prove he was okay. Took a picture of himself and the ground blind....not enough. Asked for his coordinance so an OPP officer can find him. He told them wasn't needed. Officer phoned him and talked to him, asked for his coordinance. Which he gave them. Joe was whispering into his phone which allerted the officer. Officer asked him " Sir, why are you whispering".... Joe replied that he was trying to shoot a deer. Still not enough.
Finnally the OPP called my number to confirm he was okay. I had to walk about 20 minutes and talk to him in person, which I did. Then I had to phone and confirm he was alright.
Then at the end of the day he said he was shocked he saw no bucks!!!!
Taking a nice nine point buck for the area I hunt and instead of using the deer cart and trekking the 3/4 mile back to my truck I dragged him the 100 yards to a public road. As I was putting him in my truck, a fellow bowhunter stopped and said "nice buck! I didn't know you were allowed to hunt this area." it is a nice little woodlot separated by houses from a bigger piece of woods that is a perfect funnel. Guess I will have some company next year.
At this rate it looks like joining a hunting club.
Eating a giant burrito the night before the hunt.