Friday, November 18, 2011

When Nothing Is Going Right, Be Ready!

I looked at the weather early this week and saw that Thursday was going to have a low of 28 degrees in the morning with a high near 60. With the beginning of the week having highs around 70 and lows in the 40's, I knew it was time to schedule a day off. Wednesday night I called Matt's dad to ensure that I wouldn't be stepping on his toes if I walked in that morning. He was planning on hunting a different area. We decide to get there extra early to have plenty of time to setup in our chosen locations.

Thursday morning, I get up extremely early and start the long drive. I get to where I'm supposed to meet Mark, Matt's dad, and get dressed. I'm ready to go when he gets there. We chose to use a small boat instead of making a long and strenuous walk. All of our gear is loaded in the boat and we back the trailer in. There is a rope on the front of the boat that is attached to the trailer so we can drop the boat in and pull it back to the ramp as we pull the trailer out. Mark backs the boat in and starts pulling the trailer out but the boat isn't coming back toward us. The rope pulled off the trailer and the wind is pushing parallel to the shore. It's 28 degrees and there is ice all over anything the water touches. We both watch helplessly as our stand, gear, and the boat go floating away from us. Earlier in the week I would've just swam after it, but that isn't an option today. Mark decides to go back to his house and grab his other boat. I continue to watch the shadow of the boat as it drifts into the fog.

Mark shows up with the other boat eventually. Luckily, with the cold weather, there were no other boats on the water. As he prepares to drop the boat in, he tries to start it. It won't crank. He removes the shroud and sees that the starter isn't popping up to turn the motor over. The grease is too cold. Time for enginuity. He pulls the oil dipstick on his truck and uses the warm oil to lube up the starter. After doing this twice, the boat cranks right up. I back him in and he retrieves the other boat. We pull the second boat out and redress to get in stand. I make the mistake of pushing the boat offshore with my bare hands. They immediately freeze.We get to our spot and part ways. I walk quietly to my tree and try to quickly put out scents and get up the tree. I climb a bit higher than normal as my boots were too slick to face the west as my stand would angle down. So I face the east. I try to put my safety belt on the tree but as I face the west (behind the stand where I'll get most of my shots) I realize it'll be in the way of any shot, so I take it off. Not a smart move, I know. I look at my phone. It's 8:09. I decide to plop my butt down and not setup the camera. Too much bad luck and too late to not have disturbed the deer movement.

9:15 and I hear movement up the hill to the north. I peer through the treeline and see several deer moving. I stand up and face the tree (to the west). I spot several does, so I relax my grip on the bow. I watch as 5 does feed behind me at 35 yards. As they pass through wide open shooting lanes, I hear something behind me and slowly turn to see a spike behind me at 15 yards, broadside. He's lucky I only have one more buck tag and want to fill it with large inedible antlers. He circles all the way around me and follows the does off to my South West. I figure that'll be all that I see. I give it a few minutes to see if anything else followed the does and then sat down.

I hear movement to my South East at about 75 yards roughly 30 minutes later. I stand, grab my bow, and then grunt as I see a rack coming through the trees. He stops. I grunt again. He marches my way like I just slapped his mom. He walks directly toward me and I draw while he is still in the trees. He walks into the open and stops, facing me, at 40 yards. I'm confident in my shot out to 50 yards. After holding my draw for about a minute and buck fever setting in as I see his 8 points reaching toward the sky, I take a deep breath, place my pin on the center of his chest, and release. The second my bow flung the arrow in his direction, his chest dove to the ground. My arrow flew straight....over his back. I should have known that he was on high alert after I grunted him in and to aim low. He trotted 15 yards into the trees not knowing what the heck just happened. I grunted a few times as I knocked another arrow, but he decided that whatever it was that grunted wasn't worth it and moved on.

15 minutes later, to my South West, I hear a branch snap. I look and 50 yards away stands a large bodied deer. His neck is swollen and he's on a mission. As he steps out of the trees, I notice that he isn't quite gifted up top. He's a dink 6 point with the body of a beast. I watch as he walks by at 30 yards. The 8 I just missed was quite a bit bigger rack-wise, so I don't bother him. I sit back down only to stand a few minutes later as a big bodied deer works just inside the tree line from my North East to North West. I never see a rack and it didn't respond to a grunt. I sit again wishing I had my camera rolling, but figured the morning was over. It's already 11am.

Then, at 11:30, another deer works just inside the tree line following the previous deer. I stand and watch, hoping it will step out. At 65 yards, I spot an absolute brute of a deer step out. This deer reminds me of Iowa deer body-wise. He walks so proudly. I look toward his had and see nothing but straight tines that make all other bucks this morning look smaller than ants. I see 4 points on his left side. I manage to grab my grunt call as I feel like falling out of my stand. I grunt. That's when I had my Field & Stream moment. He looked in my direction. His ears don't compare to his rack, they look small. There are 8 points. His G2's are at least 22 inches with mass reaching throughout. I guess him at 160+ inches. He walks toward me about 5 yards then turns toward the South West again. I grunt again and he sways his massive head, but continues walking. I grunt several more time but to no avail. He clears an obstacle with ease and disappears. I stand there in disbelief. I am in awe of what just happened and the next hour flies by.

Mark had text me around 10 saying he shot a spike. I get down at 12:30 and find my arrow from my miss. I unscrew it from the broadhead as the 63lbs of draw-weight buried it deep into the tree.
I head to Mark's location and we find the back half of the arrow with blood spray on it. We track the deer for 200 yards through some nasty thickets. The blood stops. I start doing a grid search. Mark says he found him. I spin around and there's a pile of leaves. When the deer piled up, he completely covered himself in leaves and was easily missed. We drag him about 400 yards out. The hit was good, it hit one lung and sliced directly through the liver. We are looking for the other half of the arrow and the broadhead that is attached. It is lodged in the skin lining the guts pointing toward the back leg. The shot had been broadside, but the arrow took a 90 degree turn. Every time he ran, the broadhead sliced into his leg, exposing the entire knee joint and giving the appearance that something had tried to chew on him.
All this to say, if you're day is going absolutely terrible, you'd better be ready! The deer of a lifetime only needs seconds to appear and a few more seconds to disappear. How I wish I'd setup the camera.

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