Hey guys just got thru one of those good parts in this roller coaster we call PA deer hunting and wanted to share the story.
First let set the stage of the season thus far…in roller coaster terms we have been going uphill for a long time, one nice little dip when I got that nice doe on 10/17 while hunting with the Mrs., but other than that it has been a very long hill. I purchased a crossbow for my son John (12) in April of this year, and he proved very proficient with it, being a Dad that has waited for him to turn 12 I had visions of him by my side every time I went out during bow season, and us tailgating some of the dandies I have seen on camera since August…but after several long uneventful days, his enthusiasm started to fade…heck mine did too. When you own your own property to hunt you kind of become a slave to it, working all year on it, and eliminating the desire to change things up and go somewhere else, cause after all I did not work on any other spot on this earth all year, I worked here A LOT, these stands SHOULD work they are in the right spots, ….well as great as that sounds to have something like that, when things go bad or cool off it leaves you frustrated and entirely confused on where the deer you have seen all year went. I got files full of trail cam pics of nice bucks, good does….but yet EVERY time I headed out alone, or with Johnny…the results were the same. Nothing to pump the blood. After a few sits, Johnny needed a break…what I thought was one Saturday off , turned into three off and now it was not just the deer that had my tailwing shot off and me spinning towards the ground. Hunting was on a loosing streak in the competition against other activities, yet another thing in which I had not planned. What was going on here???
My last two sits alone in my stand, had me staring into space….and lets say I even got a bug in my eye once or twice causing me to rub them a bit. It was getting bad. So with rut in full gear and no family hunters on the schedule for this Saturday…I just punted. Went to watch my daughter’s last B-Ball game, took the boys to the store, got some new scents and grunt tubes…stuff I have not done since the season started. Monday (today) was Parent conferences at our school. Meaning the kids had off and my wife the teacher had to work estra hours and also could go to all our kid’s conferences and I had the long scheduled Today –Wed off for hunting. Last night as we gave the kids the options of where they could spend today, I held my breath that hunting would not go down for a fourth time in a row. It did not
. John was on board for hunting….and I quickly realigned his gear for the next day with a renewed jump in my step.
We entered the woods at daylight, with fresh tracks on the access trail we chose to grunt and can from the newly constructed rifle stand looking over the thick creek bottom, hoping to catch bucks returning from skirting the nearby fields. A couple grouse flushing but it was another slow go…not wanting to dwell on it too long I suggested to John we go up on the ridge top…It is about 7:45 now and it seems to peak up there (when it does peak) between 8:30-11AM. We got up the hill about 8 AM, and were settled in the big double stand at 8:15. I laid down some golden estrus scent in a nearby tree and spayed some Buck Bomb Doe P on the nearby weeds. I started in almost immediately with the Can and grunt tube. 8:45, the unmistakable crunching of a rut buck behind us, by the time I turn my head he is in view, BUT on my side of the stand. Now if you add a BIG rutting buck, a surprised Dad and a half awake kid with a crossbow, mix them into a tight double ladder stand and tell them they have to switch sides within 5 seconds before the buck hits the best shooting lane there, it almost immediately becomes a 3 stooges episode…. And it did….fortunately the TREMENDOUS buck was now zeroing in on the golden estrus wick….with John on the right side now, me kneeling with just my eyes and hat over the blind section and feet hanging out of the skirting. The buck stops and starts to look around, man he is thick wide and absolutely GORGEOUS, I think about snapping a pic but no extra sounds, no extra movement.….he is about 35 yards which is our max limit with this crossbow. The angle is bad as he is quartering towards us and there are some limbs that easily could deflect. No chances on this guy I tell myself, then tell John…just Wait. He is holding the crossbow offhand and the wobbles are setting in for him. This is not going to do I think to myself….I peer over again and the buck is looking right at us, like the smart gobbler that figured out that there should be a doe right here waiting and there isn’t, he turns and walks straight away, stops at 65 yards and thrashes some brush and disappears in the slash. John and I are both shaking…and although both extremely disappointed, we giggle about how we had to reposition and how poorly we did.
About 10 Am we see 2 deer way down on the Ridgeline trail. Not something you could see 2 weeks ago, but now you can. I planted that trail with winter wheat and turnips and the two deer I watch stop at my mock scrape (got to get those pics now that I think of it) and they feed out the trail. 10:40 comes and we see them coming back uphill towards us. Now we have been thinking 100% big rut buck to this point as our only target, but John has a DMAP tag for our hill and I immediately tell him …”You can shoot one of these if it looks right” , he shakes his head like “I know Dad”…this time we predict right and position ourselves well in advance. The deer split about 50 yards out and the closest one puts up its tail and runs right to us, and stops...Johnny is on it, but the angle is again bad. “ Not yet”, I look down, the young deer is looking at us…it takes three leaps and stops and is now slightly uphill and quartering away about 20 yards out and searching for its counterpart. I tell John he is a young one, but the shot is perfect if you want him…he hunkers down on the aim. THWACK!!! I watch the best I can to see the flight of the bolt but just no chance…I know he hit the chest by reaction but unsure of the exact hit. The Button buck trots off holding up his opposite front leg as he trots about 15 yards and lies down in some beech brush. I hug John and tell him I think the shot was a good one and that we are going to wait 45 minutes before doing anything. About 10 minutes pass the young buck tries to get up and tumbles and lays back down...his head is up though and ears are alert. I began to doubt the hit for just a little. I pat John’s back and explain how broadhead hits take some time. He puts his head on my shoulder as we just sit, pray for the deer and wait and watch…I give him a reassuring hug this will work out. About 20 minutes now and the other deer has come a searching. It looks like another button, perhaps two that were just kicked away by a Mom in serious heat? There is a Big momma doe up here that produced 2 buttons. It approaches the wounded one which thrashes a bit at it arrival and is now coughing, the other turns and starts to walk off, looking back knowing it is time to move off for good. Now I ain’t going to lie…it was tough to watch, even for seasoned old me. But all this action seems to of speed up the process we have been waiting for and after 40 minutes I watch the wounded button buck expire in a sleeper type fashion and roll over. We wait another 10 minutes before we go down and approach. On the ground we cocked the crossbow now in case we need follow up, but we don’t. The smiles and hugs are back. I give Johnny a moment with the deer while I go and gather our packs. We take pics and get him tagged and I decide to gut him down off the hill further as to not do it up here on the main travelways I will be hunting the next two days…..
I have a ton more on this in my head , in fact if I had a laptop while we were waiting for it to expire it is likely you would of just read the very best hunting story you ever read …..but those ideas and meanings have now faded so I will end with the pics that describe it all.
First this is John right after the BIG buck moved off…the buck was standing up there at about 11AM from John’s head….just too far. Hope it comes back someday.
John after shooting the button buck. The deer was standing right at the little stump near his elbow. It is actually lying right in that beech brush…not yet expired.
Here is the view to the stand from impact point.
After we got to the deer
And back at the truck
Then back home where the work really starts…
A small button buck in the big scheme of things of the Entire hunting world….but like all harvests in this house, we make them all special and this one sure was,,,just ask Lil Joey
I am hopeful I have hunters for life, weather they are all day every days or just that special reunion trip once a year or somewhere in between would be just fine.