Hunting has been a little slow the last 2 weeks. We've seen deer here and there, but it's been warm enough to make afternoon sits unproductive until literally last light and the morning have provided a few deer sightings, but no real shot opportunities, that is, until this week.
I took a follower of our blog, Charles, on his first duck hunt last Saturday. It was opening day and we opted to sit on a river that flows into the lake. I knew the competition wouldn't be as great and hoped that the birds would seek refuge there. We had 1 flock of teal work by and we got all of 2 shots off, but no birds. A group of mallards gave us a look, but my calls were locked up and by the time I got one to work, they lit into the water 200 yards from us. Opening day was too warm for the birds to be here yet.
I took off Monday-Wednesday for Rudy (aka Huntography) to be here. Monday's weather was like springtime here. Tornadoes, hail, torrential rain, and we even threw in an earthquake for good measure. Rudy decided to come in on Tuesday afternoon to try and avoid the weather. Matt and I decide to hunt Tuesday afternoon to get an idea as to what the deer were doing as we had backed off to keep them from feeling pressured prior to Rudy's visit. Matt and I both chose locations and got up in our climbers. The woods were dead. With the time change, shooting light was ending near 6pm. At about 5:30, Matt had a doe walk in and present him with a 16 yard shot. The arrow sailed over her back. Matt was nailing a target at 40 yards no problem prior to the season and we knew it wasn't nerves. Almost right at 6, I had 2 does come in. One walked to 20 yards broadside and looked straight at me in the stand. She walked backwards and around a brush pile. The second doe also came in broadside at 20 yards. I decided to pass as I wouldn't have time to pick up another tag before hunting with Rudy the next morning. Just behind them was another deer, but with light all but gone from the sky, I couldn't tell if it was a buck or a doe. We got down from our stands and found that Matt's dad had shot a button buck. Being public land, all deer are fair game. If you pass on a deer, the next guy will shoot it. There is no "Quality Deer Management" with public land. We go to help him track it. The shot was 30 yards, but almost no blood at impact. We find blood about 10 yards from where he was shot.
We trail another 150 yards then grid search again. After 2 hours on the grid, we give in to hoping is was not a kill shot. Matt's dad returned the next morning to look some more but didn't find any more sign.
I finally meet up with Rudy at 9:15pm. He's been waiting for 5 hours. I felt really bad. We chat for a couple of hours and crash.
Tuesday morning, we start out at 4:45 so we can both get ready and out the door. We meet up with Matt earlier than normal so that we can all get positioned and give Rudy time to get setup. Rudy is sitting with me this morning and I put him in the west tree, 30 yards from mine, the east tree. Here is where I screwed up. He was going to be facing east, directly into the rising sun. I didn't even think about that until we were already positioned. The morning started slow, but it was cold. Around 8:15, a doe comes in from behind Rudy and he starts filming. She is 20 yards from him and feeding slowly through. As she works toward me, I look behind her in the woods. There's a buck! He's shredding a sapling! I try to get Rudy's attention, but he's focused on the doe. I text him "Buck! your 5 o'clock!" He turns the camera and starts filming what appears to be an alright sized buck. Then, he steps out of the shadows of the woods. Rudy almost fell out of his stand. We are on public land and have an absolute brute of a 10-point coming straight at us. The buck angles a bit and stands in a shooting lane from Rudy's stand at 20 yards, BROADSIDE! He slowly works toward me, but is angled slightly to my left. I see where he's headed and slowly range an opening. 50 yards. I look at the buck. This guy is a good 3-5 inches outside of each ear and has mass that carries past his G-3's. I look back toward my opening and see my curse. a branch with two less than inch diameter twigs shooting straight up into the opening. The buck continues to tear into every sapling in his path and is about 75 yards behind the doe at this point. Good, she's not fully in heat yet. He steps into my opening. He is again broadside, but those two twigs have names now. One is regret, the other, agony. I never draw. Instead, Rudy films and I watch as this majestic animal continues his course away from us. I tried grunting and bleating at him, but the wind was strong and he couldn't quite hear me.
Rudy's view. A picture he took while recording the buck move through.
10 minutes later, Rudy signals to look behind me. I do, but don't see anything. Instead I hear crashing 75 yards away. Rudy texts me that it was a buck hot on a doe. He was bigger than the 10 and Rudy guessed he'd go 150ish. I can't believe the kind of day we are having. Matt texts me that he shot a spike. He got down from his stand, found the arrow and the deer expired about 100 yards from the stand and climbed back up to see what else happened by. Another 2 and a half hours go by without a deer sighting. We decide to get out of the stands and grab some lunch. Just as I take my hand off my bow for the first time all morning to start putting stuff away, I catch movement. I look up and there is a pig of a coyote right under Rudy's stand. When I say pig, this dog looked like he'd been eating nothing but cheeseburgers for a year. He looks directly up at Rudy who made sudden movement to try and get him on film. I, at the same time, quickly grab my bow and attach my release. The coyote bolts. I kiss and whistle at him. He had enough of those weird trees though and meandered off into the woods. We exit the woods and Matt drags his deer out and guts it.