Saturday, October 15th, began with Matt and I finally able to get into some new stands we had set 2 weeks before the season. We've been anxious to get in this location since opening day. Matt chooses the ladder stand that we setup in a cedar tree while I took the ladder stand 150 yards east in a point of oak trees that overlooks where 3 deer trails come together.
The morning starts slow, but about 7:45, I hear movement coming down the hill through the woods. It sounds like several deer. They get to within about 30-40 yards, but are still obscured by the trees when they stop. They turn and head toward Matt's location. I text him quickly to give him a heads up. A few minutes later, he replies, "3 bucks. 1 is 120"". I wait. He replies again, they were 40 yards out and he didn't feel comfortable with the shot they presented. Moments later, 70 yards down the hill, I spot 3 spikes moving quickly toward Matt yet again. I text him to let him know. He said they passed close to him, but didn't offer a shot. The rest of the morning was uneventful, but to see 6 bucks in one sitting while on public land, that's near unheard of.
Saturday afternoon, Matt and his dad head to a friend's house about an hour South West of here to hog hunt. Within an hour of being there, they snuck within 5 yards of a bedded boar and dispatched him with a load of buckshot. He dressed out at roughly 200lbs.
The morning after college football Saturday, or Sunday morning with a hangover, Matt was too tired to go out, so I decided to take the mile walk back to the same stand he had sat in the previous morning. I pull up to the parking area, under an almost full moon, and am greeted by about 7 does. Here I am thinking this can't be good if the deer are already moving. I get dressed in my camo, grab my gear, and walk toward the stand. I walk in the dark as the moon is lighting the way and I don't want to spook any game. I cover about 300 yards and spook a great blue heron. He takes off squawking loudly. I make it another 100 yards and something tells me to turn my headlamp on. I hate that feeling. I stop and switch it on. 15 feet from me, in water up to it's eyes, is a raccoon. He appears to feel cornered as he arches his back. I back up slowly while knocking an arrow. I circle around him at about 10 yards, all the while facing him in case he chooses to get frisky. He stays put and I move on. It's not coon season and I don't want to possibly lose an arrow.
I make it another 400 yards and start hearing quite a bit of splashing in the water. I find this odd as the wind is calm. I have my headlamp off, but keep an eye toward the water. It's not long before the top of the water explodes to the sound of flapping wings and honking. A flock of what I'd guess to be at least 40 geese. Great, so much for a stealthy approach to the stand. I get to the stand and climb on up. This morning I am determined to finally get my camera arm strapped in and ready to film, but as I am hooking it up, I notice the tree is too small to firmly ratchet it down. Oh well, it'll have to do. Just as I'm ready to sit down, a deer approaches behind me. I am unable to see it in the moonlight and it continues on past.
I sit down and await daylight. Then I hear it, buzzing, right next to my ear. I reach into my bag and grab my mesh face-mask. The mosquitoes descend in waves attacking my hands and exposed skin around my eyes. I quietly deal with the pain of their bites and don't dare try to swat at them as the sky is turning blue. It's almost shooting time.
At 7:06, right at legal shooting light, a deer appears to my right in a small clearing. It's not one of the big bucks, so I decide to pass, but stand anyways so I can try to film it. I get the camera on and recording just in time as it steps out from the cedars at 25 yards. He's a spike. He continues broadside for about 15 yards then stops and looks straight at the tree I'm in. A moment later he turns and starts walking to me. I'm thinking this is perfect for video purposes. He is still coming toward me. He gets to the bottom of the tree, 6 feet from the bottom of the ladder stand and drops his head to graze. My thoughts went something like this: "Hold out for the big one. But he's getting closer. What if I scare off the other buck by taking a shot? He's getting really close. I could throw this arrow like a spear at him. That'd make for some top-quality film. Ok, this is just a gimme shot. What if I don't get another good chance at a deer this season? I can't wait any longer." With all that commotion in my head, I quickly draw. He's 3 yards from me, and that's only because I'm in a 15 foot ladder. I can see the back of his vitals and spine through a hole in the branches. I lay all 4 pins on his spine and release. THWACK! He bellows, drops to the ground and is done. Meanwhile, the camera is recording. I turn and let the camera capture the moment for me.
I sit for another hour just in case the big boy steps out but nothing materializes and I have a really long drag ahead of me. I get down and find the front half of my arrow with the broadhead on it. Uh-oh, it has green on it. This is not going to be fun. I admire the spike for a moment. This is my first true archery buck. The fletchings are barely sticking out from his spine. These Muzzy MX-series broadheads do a number on bone, muscle, and anything else they hit. I pull him about 100 yards away and gut him. The arrow shattered his spine, punctured a lung, and sliced through his stomach. Oddly enough, the holes created by the broadhead in his stomache are extremely clean and I am able to carefully finish gutting him without spilling any of the contents in him. Then, the drag. I'll say this, the only other deer I'm dragging that far will be a brute of a buck, but I was still smiling after all was said and done. I had my first true bow buck.