Well I was kind of hoping my son was going to write a full story about this buck but he has deferred the story telling to me on this so please keep in mind I was not in the stand with him this year since he is 16 and is now allowed to hunt by himself. I was 80 yards away in another stand with my other son Joey (10). Therefore the first hand details of the moment of truth perhaps John (BuckBlood84) can fill in later.
Here is my version:
About a year ago to the day, after I sat in this same ladderstand and saw 14 bucks in 3 days, I went home and told my boys to mark Saturday Nov 2, 2013 on their calendars NOW as it will be a “all hands on deck” hunting day. I don’t want to hear I got this birthday party, or am going to this buddy’s, block it out NOW we are hunting. I don’t mind when they do that type thing in October cause 1. Their kids, hunting ain’t their whole life, just mine(for now) 2. it is historically a little sleepy on our hill in October especially if we pass on does.. BUT in early Nov, it is time to cash in our chips on the work we did all year and no one should miss cash out. I was actually surprised at how well the message got thru when I reminded them a couple weeks ago. As an indication, John even got up a little earlier than normal on a hunt Saturday to take a shower in scent off soap etc…something he did not do in the more laid back October hunts.
So off we went up to the property, after a few brief minutes in the camp to get treestand seats, put on the outer layers of clothes and get scents etc.. up the hill we went. We ATV’d to our parking spot about ¾ of the way up the steep mile long hill and walked in the last hundred+ yards uphill together til the log trail split. I brought my boys together in a huddle and we brought our fists in together…”Today IS the day guys, the day the Mack boys bring one down, focus, stay alert and hit them where it hurts, God bless, safe hunt.. let’s go” we broke huddle and I gave John last minute advice on laying down the estrous scents I gave him, and when to use the grunt or bleat calls. Since I had all those calls as well and free hands I told him I do the bulk of the calling just use his if he sees a deer and needs to bring them closer or stop him, he nods and heads off up to the rim. I watch a kid I use to have to take care of in every detail of hunting walk into the darkness to hunt alone, now there is a moment for a Dad. Joe and I go take our positions on the first rim and get settled in.
The first hour is very uneventful, ground is wet, breezy and no real action to speak of. The second hour moves along pretty much the same way. I have been doing bleat/grunt combos about every ½ hour hoping to just pull in a passer by. Joe and I hear a two grunts coming from Johnny’s stand “that’s a good sign Joe, there must be one up there”…minutes pass and nothing it is now about 8:45 and Joey bumps me “Dad deer up by Johnny”…I look and sure enough a nice buck is skirting the rim he is on which should take him right in front of John’s stand. We watch the buck move left to right and I whisper to Joey that maybe it is too far for him to shoot??? We can see the deer but not John’s stand because of the remaining leaves on the trees then we hear a “grunt, grunt” and see the buck stop…THWACK!..the buck turns on a 90 runs downhill towards us and then another 90 takes him from right to left about 35 yards in front of us..his whole side is already red..he goes about 30 more yards and stops, wobbles and goes down!! After we see that we yell out “ he is down bro, he is DOWN!” Joey and I high five and he immediately wants to climb down and go see his brother’s deer, but I tell him “let’s watch it for 20 minutes first I don’t want any jump up” the same thing I told John as we drove over that morning, if you hit one wait til you hear from me. About 2 minutes pass and I look off to the left and here comes another 8 point!!! Tighter but higher and the first thought to hit my mind is “my GOD my boys are going to double up”…..the buck enters out of the briars of the clearcut, his hair is all bristled along his neck, he is about 45 yards out and senses or smells that other deer, you can tell. He works up the hill a bit til he finds the dead buck and we watch as he circles the fallen. Sniffing nose to nose with it, sniffing from the back, circling and all bristled up ready to fight…I decided to try to bring him in range with a bleat then two grunts. He looks towards us and moves a bit in our direction, I got Joe hunkering down on the crossbow following him. “ I can take him Dad”, “ No Joe that is 40 yards,too far” ..despite how bad I want this double up day for my boys I can’t give the kid the green light, he is a great shot with this corssbow but there are limbs everywhere in those 40 yards..’no shot, no shot” I keep telling him. The buck gets as close as 30 yards but is covered in beech brush. He turns and goes back to his fallen kin, sniffs his nose again, maybe even tinked his antlers a little and then lifts his head up into the breeze and takes the wind right up over the hill right past John. I hear John grunt twice at him, so I bleat call one last time but can still see the buck moving off, no double up. The look in Joe’s eyes daggered me pretty good right then, but it was the right call…this ain’t shooting crossbows off the picnic table across the lawn this is woods hunting. We wait another 15 minutes, then I whistle and say “come get your buck”…we climb down to meet him as he follows the blood over, Joey wants to rush over to it a couple times but John should be first and he is.
The next two hours are complete euphoria and perhaps as good as it gets for a hunting Dad. Watching his two boys all smiles and joking around over a nice buck, I know it is something the three of us will never ever forget and will always be bonded by in this memory. Johnny does the paperwork and the boys head off to bring the wheeler up, while I gather up gear. We load the buck up for its ride down to the rifle range where I try to do all the field dressing to keep the bears and yotes off our spot, and they head down to the camp on the wheeler still laughing and joking. I walk down just thanking God, I mean really thanking God, even had to stop once to dry up my eyes so not to trip on all the rocks on the trail with my tear blurred vision…we get down to the camp and hang the very FIRST buck of this camp (7th on the property) off the porch.. just an absolutly beautiful site that I thought about often while hammering on and staining the place. Now that we got service texts have gone out in all directions county wide and within a half hour my brother in law and father in law both stop by camp too see John’s buck and give a back slap to him. The rain sets in and the boys are ready to kick it back at the warm house (camp had no heat til the next day) so Grandpa offers them a ride home. I skin the buck find some energy to go back up to sit the day out, but about 3PM I miss my boys and the rain sets in good for the evening I decide to head home and join the party, cook some tenderloins on the grill and just bask in the glow, today is about John’s success, no need to tack on mine.
I’ll let these pics speak the other 1000 words and just say God Bless , but a special wish that all you hunting Dad’s experience what I have more than once now. I am not sure it gets much better…now we turn our attention to 11/9. Joey and I look forward to fist bumping at O’dark thirty time to close the deal for his young hunting heart.