Those in my circle know one thing: I don’t eat a meal without meat. That’s the way it is and I’ll never change. I have always found great fulfillment in harvesting game. I have a strong respect for nature and the animals I kill. I was taught to never kill anything unless it was goin on the table. It is a very good thing as a man to be able to go out and provide food for his family. That’s how it’s been done since Genesis 9:3 so I reckon it’s here to stay.
You spend enough time in the woods, you see a lot of things. You really learn how to read nature when you actually listen. I will always enjoy just taking it all in. Some things make you just sit in amazement. Some things make you want to have a flashlight while walking too your stand. I’ve seen some big bucks in my time in the woods. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to take one. Not in season, too far away, running, caught my scent, not a clear shot…. The last one is very important to me. I have shot deer in my life that I couldn’t find afterwards. If you respect the animal, that’s a bad feeling to have. Of course something will eat it, but that’s beside the point.
So this year I have had a hard time finding time to get out there. Between school, work, family birthdays, and being out of town, there just hasn’t been a lot of time to hunt. And the conditions have been less than desirable. Archery season was hot and here in Virginia, the oaks just didn’t produce. I have seen some small does, turkeys, and a couple small bears though. I have seen a couple spikes and one scrawny 4 point. Nothing worth shooting for meat really. My good friend Matt invited me to hunt the land he and his father had purchased over the summer. We went one Saturday evening during archery. The land looked good. I felt optimistic. But who doesn’t feel optimistic when hunting new land? Heck, I am 100% sure it’s gonna be an awesome hunt every time go, for at least 20 minutes….
After a quick view of the land on a 4 wheeler, I got up in a tree stand a church friend had set up on their land. There were still a lot of leaves on the trees. It was warm. But I still felt optimistic. I saw a doe with two fawns from the left. I saw another doe from behind. I saw a young bear eat my sunflower shells I’d spit walking down to the stand. I saw another two does. Then, not far behind the does, I saw a big buck. I mean my eyes got big… I knew that he was curious about the does. But the does were fading away eating the sparse grass. I did a quick bleat call and sure enough the does turned and started walking my way. Perfect. They’ll come up and he’ll follow. I then focused on him. I waited til he got within shooting range. When he did, he was in a front facing posture. I didn’t want to take a shot like that, especially with a crossbow. Then he started walking broadside. Did he give me a clear shot? Of course not. He walked around, within 35 yards, for what seemed like an eternity. I never had a shot I was confident would definitely take him down. So even though I was shaking with adrenaline, I had to let him walk away. I was sick.
Fast forward 3 weeks. I’ve had a few days of hunting with nothing worth shooting. All small does or bucks that needed to be allowed to grow into mature bucks. I had about four hours to hunt before going over for my niece Addison’s princess birthday party. Yep that’s right. My friend Matt asked if I wanted to come up to their land again. I said sure! We got up in the tree stands by 6. It’s funny how land looks totally different when all the leaves are missing from the trees. There was a serious problem though. It was insanely foggy. You really couldn’t see more than 40 yards. I was definitely not feeling optimistic. But I sat up there, giving some grunt calls here and there. My wife Lisa had texted me that morning saying she hoped I got the monster. I said thanks…. Even though the fog was lifting a little, I was getting the feeling I wouldn’t see a single deer. It was 30 minutes later when I heard wet leaves being walked on to my left.
I look over expecting to see a squirrel. My sleepy eyes got huge instantly. It was him. 40 yards away. Holy crap. I’d love to say that I watched him for 15 minutes like on the hunting shows. But I have learned that when you have a shot, you take it. I was not about to take a chance of him catching scent. So while he was standing there rubbing a tree, I took aim and pulled. He jumped up and ran. I watched him, questioning back and forth if my shot was placed well or not. As he ran by, I was ironically saying out loud, “Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.” When he ran directly under the stand, I saw the hole. He fell about 20 yards to the right of the stand.
There is an indescribable amount of relief a hunter feels when an animal finally drops. I took that time to text Lisa. “I GOT HIM!” “You LIE.” Since I always joke, I knew the only way she’d believe me is if she had a visual. So I took a picture with the phone. With all the adrenaline, it turned out well. Right?
Her response? “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I was about to start climbing down the stand when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I looked and it was a text from my friend Andrew, four hours away. “Heard you got a deer?” Thank you Facebook. And Lisa. I got down and walked over to the deer. He was a lot bigger than I’d originally thought. As I walked closer and closer, he got bigger and bigger. I set my sweetheart down to get a better look at the buck.
I counted the points of course. 6 on one side. 4 on the other. But then I saw something crazy. Two lateral points on the side with the 4 points. The were very close to the base. Almost hidden. But one of them was 3/4 inch long and technically does not count as a point. The other went straight back. So he was really an 11 point. I’ll take it!
How thankful I am for this food. Especially in these harder times. I couldn’t help wonder what kinda stories the non-typical buck could tell. I told my buddy to keep hunting and that I was just fine looking at my buck. I decided to go look at the tree he was rubbing. It’s interesting when a big mature buck like that rubs a small tree. We always look for those big tree bases. But this guy was just rubbing his territory on a little ol’ sapling.
My friend and his dad met me at the deer to drag him with the 4 wheeler. I dragged him probably about 20 yards. Let me tell you something: he was a heavy deer. We all figured he was pushing 250 live. We got him on the 4 wheeler and drove him to a spot away from the tree stand to gut him. I got my braggin’ pics out of the way.
Needless to say, I decided real quickly I’d have him mounted. He was a a lot bigger than my previous “record” 5 pointer. I spoke with several friends that had a great day too. My good friend Ed Felker shared his story of his big 9 pointer on his blog Dispatches From The Potomac. What a great day. Meat in the freezer and a great wall hanger. I’ll take a blessing like that from God any day!