My second year bow hunting in Wisconsin proved to be a very successful one and to make it even better; the first buck I took in WI is also the largest buck I have ever taken! My first year bow hunting in WI was a blast. I saw lots of deer and most importantly spent quality time with my girlfriends father (Gordy)(future father-in-law) and his friends. I was looking forward to my second year of bow hunting in WI and was going to spend two weeks up there this time. I had provided Gordy with my game cam a couple months prior to the season and he had set up our game cams in two different spots a few weeks prior to our arrival at camp. We chose to hunt the first two weeks of Nov. in order to be in the woods during the peak of the rut.
Upon arrival, we unloaded our gear and headed straight out to immediately put up some stands where the game cams were. We put the stands up and brought the game cams back to camp. We were like kids the morning of Christmas because we were so excited to see what the cams had caught over the last few weeks. We immediately plugged the cams into the TV and started scrolling through the pics. The first cam was my cam. As I scrolled through we saw numerous pics of doe's, fawns and some button bucks. Finally, towards the end of the pics there was half of what appeared to be a decent buck, possibly an eight point. We could only see a portion of one antler. It was enough to get us excited. So we hooked up Gordy's cam and started scrolling through. Unfortunately, we found that the cam had direct sunlight hitting it for half of the day. We scrolled through multiple pics that were bright white; you could barely make out any of the surrounding cover because the sun was so bright. However, the night pics turned good and so did a pic of a nice wide six point looking right at the camera. So we were pretty fired up knowing a couple decent bucks were caught on our cameras already. We then went out to put up one other stand and scout out a spot to put up a stand for me. We found a well used trail littered with rubs, scrapes and droppings not far from the camp on public land. It was an area that had been logged out maybe 15 years ago, so it was very thick with saplings and small thick pines. The only access points were overgrown old logging roads which the deer used as trails. Gordy asked me how I felt about the area as we moved down the old logging road a good 200yds. I said I had a good feeling about the area and made the suggestion of putting up a stand in an area we found that had several trails intersecting and opened up a bit into some open woods with mature trees. We put the stand up and I also set my game cam up about 15 yds from my stand watching the well used deer trail. I also made a mock scrape and hung a wick with some tinks. I felt good about my stand location. We headed back to the camp and decided we were gonna hunt the final hour of daylight. We quickly got dressed and got our gear out and headed out. I decided to hold off using my stand since we had just disturbed the area. I got up in one of the stands we had set up earlier in the day where my camera was for a couple of weeks. It felt great to be up in the woods of WI once again. We only had about an hour on our stands before heading back to camp. Once back to camp, we all briefly explained what we had seen which wasn't much, a few squirrels, some mice, blue jays etc. No deer, which was fine because we had only been hunting an hour so far.
The second day we headed out nice and early. I again decided not to use my stand but to go back to the same stand I was in the night before. We made use of our radios to check in. Gordy's stand was roughly 200 yds from where I was but it was thick and we could not see each other, but I could hear him using his grunt tube. I did some rattling and grunting as well. Around 11am Gordy and Skip radioed in that they were heading back. I decided to head in too. We had lunch and headed back out to our stands. Again, I chose the same stand for the evening hunt. The evening passed in again none of us seen or heard anything.
The following day I decided to head down to my new stand which I figured should be safe by now. I decided to drag a wick with tinks down the trail I walked in on and hung it near my stand. I also touched up the wick hanging near the mock scrape I made. I also noticed that once it got completely light out that I could see Skip in his stand only about 70 yds away. I got a chuckle out of that because it was so thick we didn't realize that my stand was that close to his, but it was ok because the area was littered with deer trails, rubs, scrapes etc. and the terrain was very thick and somewhat swampy. His back was too me so he couldn't see me anyways. The morning passed and we headed in for lunch. Again, nobody had seen anything. The mornings were pretty cold and the wind was virtually non-existent. We headed out for the evening hunt and again back to my stand I dragged a wick again fresh with tinks. This time I stopped and inspected my mock scrape. Fresh deer tracks were in the scrape! This pumped me up! I did some calling, nothing to aggressive, just a few grunts and bleats. It was getting close to dark and finally I heard that familiar sound of a deer walking in through the woods, BUT it was behind me. Directly behind me and I could hear it coming directly towards me. I knew I had some good back cover but I was only about 12-15' in the air so I didn't feel comfortable turning to see what was coming towards me. The wind was again non-existent so every little sound could be heard and I feared that my stand would "creak" if I moved. So I slowly reached up for my bow hanging above me. I could hear the footsteps getting closer so I knew I wasn't spotted. I managed to get my bow down and ready to go. The footsteps continued. It was so tempting to turn and look but I held strong and didn't turn. The footsteps stopped directly behind me. My heart started pumping. I had no idea what it was but I knew it was close. The footsteps started moving again after a few minutes, they moved behind me to my right side which was perfect since I'm left handed. I figured the deer would come out on the main trail and right in front of me. The footsteps continued but it seemed like they were starting to move away from me. I figured I was safe to turn my head since the deer wouldn't have been facing me anymore. I slowly turned my head and peered into the woods. I couldn't see anything but I could still hear the footsteps. They were close but it was getting dark and the area was thick. Finally, the footsteps stopped and I caught a glimpse of movement and 20 yards away stood a big beautiful buck. His head was just barely peeking out of the thickets. He appeared to be a nice eight point with thick mass. I had no shot and it was almost legal quitting time. The darkness was quickly coming in and there was nothing I could do about it. The big boy peeked around and had no idea I was there. He then continued moving away from me off my right shoulder. I never had a shot but I was excited as hell to say the least. After the buck was well off into the woods I snuck out of my stand, grabbed my game cam and headed back to camp. I quickly told the story to Gordy and Skip. They didn't see any deer but everyone was excited by my experience with the big buck. I guessed the buck to be an 8 point. We decided to review our cameras before dinner. Gordy hooked his up first. Unfortunately, there were no pics of bucks, just a few doe's and some fawn's. I hooked my camera up and there were plenty of night pics of doe's and fawn's and even a small spike then one of the last pics was a nice eight point and seven point buck that came through at night. Ironically, the eight point on the camera didn't look like the one I saw. I explained that the one I saw had some thick beams while the one on camera had thinner beams. Again, we all got excited seeing some bucks on cam.
The next morning came around and I could hardly wait to get down in my stand. I was anticipating one of those nice bucks coming in first thing in the morning. My scrape was again freshened up with deer prints. I got up in my stand and hung my wick directly from the stand itself and I then decided to spray some acorn scent all around me. The wind was again barely blowing it was very cold this morning. The ground was very crunchy and every little sound could be heard. I did some grunting and bleating shortly after first light. Not much was happening but the woods were beautiful and the sun was warming things up as it climbed up into the sky. It had been daylight for a couple hours when something caught my eye directly in front of me about 30-35 yards out. I thought I had saw a squirrel tail flicker on the side of a pine tree. I was peering off into that direction when all of a sudden I saw gigantic antler come out from the side of the tree. I only saw the antler briefly as the buck turned and was creeping directly towards me. It was so thick I couldn't see him but luckily I caught a small glimpse of a portion of his rack and one thing I knew for sure....this was a monster buck! I remember saying to myself "holy sh*t" this is a big buck.” I knew he had some very long tines. I could hear him slowly coming straight towards me. Luckily the pines were so thick I was able to quickly grab the bow, hook my release on and turn my body a bit for a perfect shooting position without being seen. The footsteps were moving very slow and deliberate. My heart was racing and buck fever was starting to kick in as he came closer and closer. Finally I started catching glimpses of him through the thick pines. He stopped only ten yards in front of me right before an open area which was an old logging road that was running perpendicular to where I was sitting. He was on the edge of the logging road in the thick pines and I was on the other side of the logging road only 10yds away. He was so close but barely visible and no shot was presented at all. He stood there facing me and looking from side to side. He would look to his left for a few minutes, then turn and look to his right for a few minutes. I still couldn't see his whole body or even his whole rack but I knew he was a monster. He stood there for what seemed like an eternity. He would lift his nose and check the air and scan from left to right. This went on for a good 5-10 mins and it was the longest 5-10mins I have ever experienced. The longer he stood there the more paranoid I got. The more I shook and the more my buck fever kicked in. I was so afraid that he was going to scent me and take off, but I tried to remain calm as best as I could. I tried to take deep breaths but I had to be careful because my breath would fill the cold air. Luckily, he never really looked straight ahead in my direction but constantly looked left and right. Finally, he turned his body broad side and started to move to my right. There was an opening in the pines that was perfect for a shot directly in front of me. He walked into that opening and his head went behind a big pine tree amongst the thick small young pines. I immediately drew my bow, he never heard a thing. I almost didn't aim because my buck fever was at the maximum. I managed to calm myself immediately, took aim and released. He immediately jumped, turned and ran off! He sounded like a freight train crashing through the woods. I listened as I heard him crash off into the distance. I was still shaking and extremely excited. I knew I had a great shot. I grabbed my radio and yelled "I just shot a monster f*cking buck" Gordy came back and said "did you get a good hit on him?" I replied "yes definitely! He was only 10 yards away!" "He is a monster!!!". Gordy said "Ok, sit tight I'm going to get out of my stand and head up to the road and walk towards your direction and I'll call you on the radio when I get there, just sit tight for awhile."
I was so excited that I probably would have jumped out of my stand if I didn't have a harness on. I took some deep breaths and got my gear together and climbed down out of the stand. I could see Skip starting to climb out of his stand and work his way over towards me. I also sent a quick text msg to my girlfriend to inform her that I shot a monster buck but we gotta track him first. I set my bow down and walked over to where I had hit the big boy. Initially, I couldn’t find blood, it must have been because my adrenaline was still going and I was too excited to see clearly. When Skip arrived I told him the whole story. This allowed me to settle down a bit more as well as buy us more time prior to tracking. I then noticed blood splattered all over the pines in the spot the buck had stood when I released the arrow. I looked in the direction he ran and we both noticed large amounts of blood on the pines going up the hill. I spotted my arrow roughly 15’ away lying on the ground. I walked up and was excited to see that it was definitely a good shot with a complete pass through. Blood was everywhere. Gordy then radioed in and informed us that he was up on the dirt road which was a couple hundred yards from where Skip and I were standing and was also the direction the buck ran. He asked how much longer I wanted to wait. I decided we should wait another ten minutes or so just to make sure. I knew it was a good shot but I just wanted to be sure he had plenty of time to expire. A half hour had already passed so Gordy said he would head on down to where we were standing before tracking the buck. Gordy came down and I then explained the whole story to him and showed him the blood trail. Gordy then said he would head back up to the road while Skip and I follow the blood trail just in case the buck wasn’t dead and makes a run across the road.
A good 45mins had passed, so Skip and I began tracking the beast. The blood was very easy to follow and I anticipated seeing the buck laying only a short distance away. We followed the blood almost 100 yds and then noticed the buck had turned and went parallel with the road which was still another 100yds away. We informed Gordy that the trail was running parallel to the road. Gordy then slowly started walking down the road while we followed the blood. The blood started to get thinner as we followed it and within 30 yds it was hard to find at all. We marked the last small spot we found and then started circling the area because we couldn’t find anymore spots. Skip circled to the right towards the road and I started making circles straight ahead. Gordy cut down into the woods roughly 50yds in front of us and then circled down to our left. Within a few minutes Gordy yelled up that he had found the bruiser laying dead about 20yds down to our left. I was so pumped up I started running down the hill. I saw the buck and couldn’t be more excited. Gordy and Skip were also very excited. They then told me it was the largest buck anyone has taken from their camp in the 30 years they been hunting up in this area. I was thoroughly excited and thankful for such a great hunt! Gordy and Skip went up to get the truck and also grab the neighbor while I cleaned the big boy up. He was a ten point. He had five on one side, four on the other and then a little kicker point on his left tine. We had a good drag getting him out of the woods but it was well worth it. We hung him up behind the camp, had a few beers and talked about the experience. It is by far one of the best experiences I have had and definitely one I will never forget!