October R&R, the best vacation ever. I am deployed to a remote Combat Outpost in the Mountains of Eastern Afghanistan. About the nicest way I can describe it as a hard and rugged corner of the world, very inhospitable for sure. To drive the point home just as I typed that last sentence and dotted the period at the end of that sentence. Our base started receiving indirect mortar fire from our local taliban friends across the mountain. True story, I did not add that in for dramatic effect. Now it has been 30 minutes and everything is all clear or as clear as it can get.
So its 12 October 2010 and I finally arrive at home to Tennessee after about a week of traveling from our Outpost in Afghanistan through the various stops along the way. To say it is one of the happier days of my life would be an understatement. At home with my family after 9 months of Afghanistan is a huge relief at least for the next two weeks anyway. Spending time with family and friends is utmost priority on the vacation schedule. One of the best ways to do this is hunting of course. My friend, and for all intensive purposes brother, Eddie had big hunting plans laid out for us. Eddie has several hundred acres within his families' ownership. Added on to that there are several more back road plots and pastures he manages for long time friends that are no longer able to get outside and work their lands anymore.
Day 1, October 18, 2010, Dailey Road Pasture 6am. Eddie, my youngest son Kevin, and I headed out to take on the elements. The Dailey Road spot was 28 acres on one side of the road and 16 acres on the other. Eddie took the 16 and Kev and I took the 28. We hit the field at 5:45am and were set in our spot at 6am. The temperature was a sweltering 40 degrees. Its amazing how cold 40 degrees feels after about 2 hours of sitting like a statue. Eight am rolled around quietly, nothing anywhere.
So we decided that a sausage biscuit and something hot to drink sounded perfect right about now. We arrived back at the spot at about 8:30 and contacted Eddie to update him on our situation. It was quiet on his side too. Kev came up with the idea of trying one of the other hot spots, the Shoot House. Ten minutes we parked the truck in a hay field so we could make the walk in to the Shoot House. The Shoot House was an inclosed 2 person elevated club house basically. The Shoot House hunt is one of the better spots around as far as game potential. From the House you can over watch an intersection of a hay field, a fairly large creek and long clear cut made by the power company but never used. As we made the turned the corner from the field to make our way to the Shoot House we spooked about 8 to 10 turkeys hanging across the other side of the creek up into the clear cut. But that was all we saw there. We sat for a couple more hours, nothing. We called it a day.
Day 2, October 19, 2010, Dailey Road Pasture. 6am. Today we had the returners from yesterday plus we had a guest, Paul, a good friend and my right hand man in Afghanistan. See Paul was my senior guy in my platoon other than the LT and I. He was our backbone. Paul and his crew were on a patrol August 27th when his truck was blown by a road side bomb. We lost to young men that day, 20 and 21 years old, it was a hard hit for us all that day. Paul and two other guys had serious injuries but survived. All three are back in the states recovering both mentally and physically. My wife and I consider all my soldiers as our children. Paul and I have been together for 4 years so we are pretty tight. Once I came home on leave Paul and his wife Soulee spent a lot of time over at our house visiting.
So back to the hunt. We pretty much kept the same plan today as the day before. Eddie went to the 16, he has a special spot over there and me, Kev and Paul went back to the 28. In spot searching and scanning but yet all quiet again. After a couple of hours Kev decided he wanted to go back to the Shoot House and maybe see something over there. I let him talk me into it. I sent Eddie a text on the plan and off we went. We had been on the ground at the Shoot House maybe 10 minutes when I got a text from Eddie “ Got One” is all it said, I sent back “On the Way”. Go figure, as soon as we left Eddie seen a doe crossing the field we had just come from heading right to where we sat. He moved out of his stand and moved in closer within shooting range with his bow. He crept around and waited and watched the trail she had came from and as fate would have it her boyfriend had been tailing her. He drew his and dropped the 6 pointer right were he stood where the trail opened up into the field. We got there and gave a lot of high 5's along with a few “what the hecks” as well.
Day 3, October 20, 2010. The Big Farm, 3:30pm. This afternoon Eddie decided to take me to one of his all time best spots. Its call the Big Farm because its the main livestock pasture 100+ acres. Remember the creek over at the Shoot House? If you left the Shoot House walked to the creek and turned left and walked down the creek about 500 yards then you would walk right to our afternoon spot. Eddie and I spread out about a hundred feet apart. I took a spot up against a tree facing the creek. In front of me the creek was about 10 yards wide. The creek bank on the far side was open and flat for about 10 feet then climbed into a long gradual wooded hill for as far as you could see. About 20 yards up the hill was a pretty prominent game trail. That was what we were scanning. 4:45pm in my spot watching and waiting I knew this was the time if deer were going to come it would be soon, very soon. I made that assumption because the past few days when we had been out riding around about this time up until about 5:30pm we had always seen the deer feeding in people's yards. So I know they move at this time I was sure of it.
A few more minutes went by and I was talking to myself, in my head. Going over things, checking wind, listening to the squirrels making noise wishing they would settle down cause every noise hear sounds like a deer walking. Hopefully you have been in that situation so I know it aint me going crazy. I was trying to listen to the squirrels trying to hear anything but them. Across the creek up the hill about 25 yards I seen a flash movement in the treeline. If you are familiar with the clock method then it would be at 10 or 11 o'clock. Straight ahead is always 12 o'clock so everything is based off of that direction. As always I have my handy dandy shooting stick and my fancy high speed cross bow. Yeah I know the crossbow can be cheating sometimes during bow season. I looked at the flash and seen deer body moving slowly through the brush but could not see head yet. The deer stopped and turn its head away from looking back up hill to it's left. That is when I noticed a half a rack on his head. I could see at least 3 points on the left side of his head because he was walking from my left to my right. Man was I nervous this was going to be a tough shot if I take it. He walked about 3 more steps forward. All I could was his front right should and his rear end from where I sat. The brush was not helping at all. It was now or never. I pulled the crossbow tight into my shoulder aimed at into the bushes where I thought his vital area would be behind the brush. I slowly squeezed the trigger and bolt away. The deer leaped forward and took off. I had no idea if I hit him or what. He sprinted for about 30 yards along the trail from left to right. At about 31 yards he dropped like a ton of bricks and rolled around on the ground for about 5 seconds then deathly quiet. This could good or bad. I waited until he laid there for a couple of minutes. I learned my lesson the last time I rushed in on a deer. I slowly got up and looked to my right and Eddie had started to get up too, he had watched the whole thing with me. We slowly approached the buck as if we were sneaking up on a machine gun bunker or something. The buck was dead. The air karate celebration began. That has to be one of my happiest hunts ever. Eddie is the world's greatest free deer guide and even better a great friend. That 8 pointer is going to be residing above our fireplace for years to come, my first deer mount. To have success on that hunt with a good friend is beyond what words can say. I know it's only a simple deer hunt but it went a long way to help deal with things over here. Do not ever take life, family and friends for granted. It is too short and they are too valuable.