An American soldier from Maine catches his dream in Ohio after returning home from two tours in Iraq, after many stop loss orders later.
Back in the summer of 1999 I had the opportunity to transfer from Ohio to Maine with my job. The company I worked for was located in the very southern tip of Maine just before you cross the river going into New Hampshire. Little town called Kittery. There is where this story begins.
My God what a mess from Memorial Day all the way to Labor Day. I came from small town in the NW part of Ohio's agricultural belt. The sea I was used to was seas of corn fields, soybeans, and wheat fields. I had no idea what summer was going to be like where I was now working. Let me state this clearly. Millions upon millions of people flock to the state of Maine in the summer months for vacations and tourism and oceanfront experiences each year. After all Maine have some of the most pristine beaches along any coast in the USA and I had three of them right where I was staying.
I had no idea who my new neighbor was at the time no clue what his background was and no clue as to what his first impression of me was after meeting him for the first time days before. You see the guy was one of Maine's most decorated traditional bowhunters in the state. This guy and his son had a room full of trophys that one could not even began to count winning archery shoots. The guy could shoot a recurve bow better then anything I ever seen in my life. I thought I was good with a recurve. This guy was threading needles shot after shot after shot at great distances. Impressive wouldn't even describe him. And his back yard was like no other anywhere I seen. He had three D targets everywhere with a platform built to shoot from at any distance to your liken.
After spending the first summer and going into fall my new neighbor took me hunting on one of the local islands just off the mainland for whitetails. Get this folks an island sticking out into the ocean. A guy from Ohio who is now sitting in a tree stand listening to the waves hitting the shoreline around this island. Unbelievable is an understatement! I'm sitting in a tree stand and waiting for whitetails to move around this island all the while watching the ocean. Picture that in your mind a farm guy from Ohio sitting along the ocean waiting for whitetails. Ha Ha Ha HA! Unbelievable let me tell you.
Where were my buddies from back home to see this?? Well I did get to see a few deer and got close to some does but never laid eyes on any bucks. Hum!!! Not good. I am used to seeing bucks and big ones at that back home. Hunted a few times more on the island and it was a different experience then one could ever imagine. Did not see alot of deer. But that was okay I enjoyed the ocean and the scenery. The sunsets on the ocean were beautiful from my stand. After few more times attempting at getting permission I did manage to land a spot along I-95 next to the toll booths right outside of Kittery. Good looking spot but never really seen many deer. One thing I was learning and learning fast was the population of deer was thin and lots of timber and vast amounts of cover everywhere. A little different hunting then I was used to back home. But I enjoyed it as it was new to me and a different experience hunting. So by the following spring,summer and fall I had built a pretty good relationship with my new neighbor and one thing led to another and before we knew it he was going to be traveling back to Ohio with me to hunt Ohio's big trophy bucks the week of Thanksgiving in the fall of 2000.
Not having to good of luck in Maine with the whitetails. I couldn't wait to get back home for the holiday to hunt those Big Bucks on the farm the following year after my first year away from home. Come November of 2000 my neighbor took the week of Thanksgiving off to come with me and my family back to Ohio for that holiday week. Not knowing when we got home our temperatures were well below 0 with plenty of snow and high blowing winds just miserable hunting and chill factors well into the -15 degree mark. But hunt we did and seen some really good bucks but not connecting with anything. Extreme Cold and wind that week made for some miserable hunting. We stuck it out but never connected with anything. We put a stock on one big buck we seen cross open terrain headed for one remaining corn field left standing that late in the season. We finished those last few days out hunting the perimeter of this corn field seen two bucks within a couple days but never connected. No tags filled that year.
In the spring of 2001 my neighbor's son had joined the military that spring. He was in the 173rd airborne. He was gonna be a paratrooper for four years. Well folks little did we all know what was around the corner for all of us here in the USA come fall of 9/11/2001. The kid that my family knew as a neighbor in Maine was gonna be pushed out of an airplane in the dead of night landing in a foreign land called Iraq couple years later during George Bush Junior's two terms in office.
Sending your son off to war isn't a easy pill to swallow when you're a parent. Knowing full well that George Jr was going to take Saddam Hussein out. It was just a matter of when. Well we all remember that night when it started. And so does a young kid from the state of Maine. You see the night we launched the second Gulf war this kid from Maine was right in on the invasion from above. He was being dropped in as a paratrooper from the 173rd.
His dad was not getting any news or word as his whereabouts. He was fighting and that was all they knew. He did manage to come home in between tours. But soon afterwards he was back in the fight. During this time I had promised his dad that when Keith gets out of Iraq I was going to have them both come down to Ohio for a good time of Bowhunting and getting back together again. I had moved back to Ohio during his military leave and was staying in contact with his parents.
Keith makes it home in March of 2005. After returning home Keith gets settled back in civilian life and lands a really good job at the shipyard in Kittery Point working on Trident Nuclear subs at the Navy Base where he lives. That year he can not get away from work so his dad decides to come instead.
Well that fall my old neighbor in Maine makes the trip down for the first week in November in 2006. After only Bowhunting three days he connects with a Boone Crocket Buck the third day in. The Buck scores over 170 inches typical and has 13 points. Massive deer. After seeing what his dad hauls back home Keith is more excited now then ever about coming down to hunt Ohio the following fall. I knowing full well after living up in Maine with him and how he loved the outdoors he would enjoy Ohio's whitetails and couldn't wait in getting here. The fall of 2007 rolls around and before you know it we are all back together again at my place Bowhunting in November. Well just few days before they arrived I connected with a really nice heavy 9 pointer. Both of them arrive on Friday morning was impressed with my Buck I just put down and by Saturday night Keith's dad had a very respectful pope & young 8 pointer on the ground. Sunday afternoon we got word of a really good Buck that was seen chasing a doe crossing the road into one of my fields down the road from my farm. A good friend of mine who stopped in to look at the bucks we had on the ground stated that he seen a massive buck in size rutting hard chasing the ole girl across the road into my field. Right then I told both Keith and his dad we have to go down there and pop in a stand into the cottonwood tree overlooking the CRP field. I went down and showed them from the road where the tree was I wanted Keith to get set up in. They both slipped in there mid morning popped up two stands stayed the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Keith's dad set up at the opposite end of the fence he was sitting on the both were on a east and west fence line 200 hundred yards apart in opposite corners of each other with the wind hitting them both in the face blowing away from the CRP field that was upwind from them. They popped in without being detected or seen I told them be extremely quiet when popping up your sticks and stands.
That night was the greatest gift any one man could ask for in a Hunting scenario. How would you like to sit in a treestand and watch your son shoot a 153 inch Buck right before your eyes. That evening the ole Buck had his rut mode in overdrive when courting that hot doe around that CRP field that evening. You see what happened was when that doe ran into that CRP there were other Bucks in there also. And buddy the game was on that evening when they started moving. Both hunters watched in excitement what was unfolding in front of them. Two really nice Bucks was trying to get at the hot doe and Mr Big boy wasn't gonna have anything to do with it. He run those Bucks ragged chasing them off that doe. Everything was working in Keith's favor. Those Bucks not knowing that danger was lurking on the fringes of the field they were in. They had no clue of the hunter's presence.
As luck was working on Keith's side the Big boy brought the doe down towards them and was working their way towards the hole in the fence in leaving the CRP field. That hole in the fence puts the deer directly in front of Keith and upwind from him. 5yds max when they come through the opening in the fence. All the while Keith's dad is sitting watching all this unfold before his eyes at the other end of the fence. As it was text book up to this point everything was perfect when she came through first. The next one through was Mr Big he was right on her tail and by that time Keith was at full draw waiting for him to step off the fence to release his arrow. Whack the arrow hits its mark and both hunters watch him as he loops back around and gets back into that CRP where he just came from. They both watched him lie down under a cedar tree in the tall grass. Waitng till dark before pursuing him was in the cards and wouldn't you know it it starts raining like no tomorrow after they come back to the house and get me. We went ahead eat supper and ran the story over and over about the shot on the deer. Keithy stated he hit him a little farther back then he wanted. Well we get a party of trackers together and head out to where we last seen him go down.
Pouring down rain and miserable tracking weather. But we had two guys pinpoint this Buck right where he last laid down. No problem right. Wrong! We get out there and where they last seen him he is nowhere to be found. Raining like hell and tracking blood is no longer doable as much rain came down and still pouring. We started to fan out with flash lights and combing the CRP field. This field was massive in size not easy finding something in when an animal is trying to hide from you in pouring down rain.
My son and I were working our way deeper in the CRP field when I heard him yell there goes a deer. Holding his flashlight on it it was a doe and standing looking back towards where she had just bounced from. Instantly my son puts two and two together and starts scanning in the direction she is looking in to his left and starts walking in that direction. Awe there he is trying to hide sprawled out on all fours trying to hide those huge antlers is what gave him away in the light beam. He was a crafty ole boy though he was not dead by no means and we didn't know if he was going to get up with all the excitement around him or not. We finally rounded up Keith and let him walk in for the final shot in putting him down. What a night that was. Father and son who traveled 1000 miles together and for both of them to witness what they did was undeniable and most exciting event in Keith's hunting career and his dad's 40 yrs of hunting.
These two loved coming to Ohio and both of them went home with two Bucks of their dreams. Since Keith has vacation every year now we have made it a ritual every year since 2007 in getting together in November and chasing Bucks. Now that they both have their dream Bucks on the wall they enjoy the week off and harvest whatever they get in front of them during that time. What a week it is when they were here the last couple years.
Last year was another scenario that was unreal. We called it two Buck Tuesday. Both Dad and Son were hunting 1 mile apart from one another on the same road my farms on. Dad was on the north side of the road and his son was on the south side of the road 1 mile from each other and I was in between them two in my woods. Believe this or not but when the old man shot his deer he immediately called his son on his cell phone and was going to tell him he just shot his buck. Keith was at full draw getting ready to hit his release when his phone was vibrating in his pocket. Keith and his dad both shot their bucks within less then 40 seconds of one another that Tuesday morning. Keith couldn't answer his phone because he was at full draw so his dad called me right away afterwards and then Keith rang his dad's phone right after he released his arrow while his dad was talking to me. We put it all together afterwards when checking our phones and the times on them. Unbelievable.
I really enjoy them visiting every fall and knowing that we are in for one great week of hunting when they come down. I can not say enough about this soldier from Maine he is everything to me. I have the upmost repect for all those who served and those that we have serving today. Talk about pride and honor and respect for those who are unselfish with their lives to look over all of us in defending our God given rights and Freedom as human beings. I fully understand why we are who we are as Americans. I think of those millions of brave souls who faced death head on and prevail and win the fight. I will do all I can each and every season to see to it that he prevails in taking home a Whitetail. So far we are batting 100% . We are less then six weeks away from them returning to Ohio. It can't get here fast enough. Good hunting to all in 2010.