My brother and I are very lucky, in that we have permission to hunt a small farm in Georgia, to include use of the Civil War era house that is on the property.
The farm is small – only about 300 acres – but has been deer hunting heaven since we started hunting it in about 1986 or so – that means we are going on 25 years on the property.
We have kept it quiet and taken very limited guests to the property.
We manage the bucks very carefully and take as many does as we want… we no longer bow hunt this property and we have limited black powder and rifle hunts.
I the last 10 years or so, we brought Ronnie’s friend Larry into the farm as an equal member – he may hunt as he likes – and he has proven to be a good asset for the farm and a good hunting partner.
OK, Jim, get to the story!!
Black Powder season rolled around some years ago and Larry found himself at the farm for a hunt by himself. Making a crucial error, Larry only took three loads to the stand with him that morning.
Larry was hunting the far southern end of a large black water swamp that runs through this property - this end of the swamp has a large series of beaver dams and beaver huts. I have talked repeatedly in other stories on this forum about this swamp – we love it down in there! Our portion of this swamp is only about 5/8 of a mile long as the crow flies, but the creek has many twists and turns. It has very dense thickets on either side of it and this swamp – flooded or not – serves as a major deer corridor on this property. I have tried in vain, on other properties, to find the deer travel patterns in swamps that rival this one… and can not do it.
OK, back to our hero of the day – Larry…. He makes the stand in black powder season and has three loads. This is in mid October and at this time of the year in south central Georgia – the rut is really starting to ramp up!
To make a long story short, Larry harvests two does and also kills a semi-innocent 3" elm tree with his three muzzleloader loads... then the woods open up with bucks - but that is another story altogether!
All in all, a great morning’s work, right?
2 dead does, both nice and fat – both laying within sight… and it is not even 8:00 am yet!
Great news, right???
Sure, if absolute frustration is what you are after.
The parade of bucks, with no shot left to take, was pure misery for Larry....
Now… let’s get the real part of this story.
Larry processes two does and learns a lesson. A hard one, but a lesson, nonetheless.
Frustrated to no end and ridiculed as “Three Shot Larry” by Ronnie and I, Larry suffers through the rest of the black powder season and into the full rifle season.
He falls into one of the worst funks a hunter could fall into.
He spooks deer seemingly each time he walks to his stand in the morning.
Deer blow at him repeatedly – unseen deer – as he sits in the stand.
No deer appear while he is on the stand.
Deer stampede into the night as he makes his way out of the stand in the evening.
The wind swirls and blows the wrong way.
Thunderstorms lash at him from what were clear skies an hour ago.
Then, when it seems as if nothing else can go wrong (it does, however!), Larry’s wife backs over his prized Summit climbing stand in the garage! What was a very comfortable place to sit now closely resembles a piece of abstract art that you might find in an out of the way gallery in Beijing!
There is a new low point and – ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!! Our friend Larry has clearly found it!!
October winds down, the leaves begin to fall from the trees in earnest and the temperatures fall. November, at times friendly and filled with bucks chasing does, arrives and simply prolongs Larry’s misery. Wet, muddy, cold and dejected, Larry sits on the steps one Saturday afternoon and informs us, finally, that he is a broken man. This is simply not his year. Call it the year of the cat, or perhaps the year of the moon or some other nonsense, he mutters, but it is not my year. Ronnie and I move off just a little – to make sure none of this abject despair rubs off on us and affects our hunting year. We do not think it is catching – but who wants to take chances!!! Deer hunters are not a superstitious lot, but we need not tempt fate… so at arms length he is kept!
November continues her march toward Thanksgiving and the deer hunting in our area, as predictable as the rise and fall of the tides, begins to wane. We see less deer, the scrapes are tended less and less, we find fewer rubs that have been worked over and it is getting cold now…
So, we see our friend Larry in quite a predicament. Pack it in? Keep plugging away?
The weekend before Thanksgiving finds Larry with a day off on a Friday – so midday Friday, Larry heads to farm. He intends to hunt Friday afternoon and Saturday morning… I am to join him and also hunt with him on Saturday afternoon.
That same Friday, I am invited to a friends place over in the LowCountry of SC (and this will be another story to post on the forum), I manage to take a very nice 8 pointer, as a guest, out of one of the founding member’s private stands. During the day, we process the deer and I put his head on ice in the back of the truck, knowing that I will see Larry the following day and he can help me enjoy my success! What the heck, I thought… at least I can rub it in when I get there… er, ah, well… what I MEANT to say is that I hope Larry is having a good time and maybe even seeing some deer!!! Yeah, that’s right…
Saturday morning arrives, I hunt in SC and then pack it in for the trip over the Savannah river and to the farm… I drive along, whistling a little tune and all is well with the world!
I pull up to the old house and I see Larry out back with a shovel in his hand….that means only one thing!!! Burying a carcass… Well, I think to myself, at least he got a doe for some meat!
I spy a cooler (I have incredible perception, particularly when there is a nice set of ANTLERS sticking out of the cooler) on the back of Larry’s truck and just grin to myself… now… WHO gets to rub it in???
In fact, the two bucks are not far apart in score – but grudgingly, I admit that Larry’s is the superior of the two… and a nice buck he is…
Tall tines reach upward and while the mass is not great, this is a super buck for Larry, particularly given the dire circumstances!
Larry recounts the story, which is all important... we decide to skip the afternoon hunt and with some good old college football on the radio (Go Dawgs!), we enjoy a cold beer and relive the hunt.
Larry fills me in... he did hunt Friday afternoon and saw no deer. True to form - several blow at him as he leaves the section of swamp closest to the road - there is a stand there that we have used for years and it is about as reliable as it gets... but not today...
Saturday dawns... raining buckets.. Larry sits at the kichen table (his favorite perch) and slowly (and I might add - likely sullenly) has his coffee. He paces. He waits. 7:00 am rolls around... still raining. He waits and then paces in reverse order. Still raining. That's it... going anyway. Rain coat goes on, rubber boots... well, at least with the rain, it is not that cold this morning, at least for November!
Larry skirts the lower edge of the main fields and heads back... to the edge of the swamp - and close, again, to the beaver dams and the widest spot of the swamp. He knows what lurks here. He has seen them.
The rain slackens mid-morning with no sign of deer... very little wind is blowing this morning - Larry faces across the swamp with the thicket behind him. The hour edges closer to 11:00 am and now the morning looks like a bust.
Movement!!! Down in the swamp... YES!!! a deer.... Sitting deadly silent now, Larry waits... the deer begins to thread its way up the edge of the creek, skirting the water... and finally reaching within 75 yards of the stand where Larry can get a good view of the deer.. A wet, skinny, little miserable looking doe. Larry guesses her at 50 pounds and she is apparently a fawn from the spring that has gotten separated from her mother - likely in the heat of the rut. She stands there forlornly and it would appear as though she is simply trying to decide where to go... somewhere HAS to be less miserable than this, right?
She moves closer to the stand and cuts diagonally into the thicket, likely looking for a place to bed down.
Larry relaxes ever so slightly... Heck, it is late and I am wet, he thinks.
He hears the doe rustle slightly in the wet leaves behind him and calmly looks around to see where she is.... and nearly falls out of the stand!!! No more than 15 yards behind the tree Larry is perched in - there stands what appears (at least at this moment in the season) to be the King Of The Forest! One well placed shot from Larry's rifle anchors the buck and the "JINX" or whatever you want to call it is broken!
The story winds down with us on the porch, listening to the radio - as the skies clear and a strong Northwest wind begins to blow. Cold in the morning for sure, we think.
Beep, Beep, Beep - the alarm sounds the next morning as we begin the cycle again.