Well, here it is now going into the 2010 deer season and my good friend Mike and I have put up a couple new ladder stands in hopes of surprising an unsuspecting buck. It's hard to give up your normal spots especially when you've had some luck there but you need to be versatile and be able to move a little just to change the normal routine to help fool the old ghost of the woods. We worked together and moved Mike's stand to a good vantage point where he could easily spot a buck trying to sneak by and get from his feeding area to his daily bedding area.
On top of the hill where we hunt which is directly behind Mike's home and about 500 yards away there's a tiny overgrown field area with an old stone wall running along its top side. On the south is another stone wall which runs along the top and back over the hill down towards the house. Last year I was sitting in my tree stand and Mike was working his way across the side of the hill and pushed 4 deer up and over the top. From where I sat I could see them but not able to pick out a buck in them if even there was one. I was hoping they would stop to look back, giving me a chance to pick one out but they weren't stopping for anything until they reached a place where they felt safe.
Mike and I thought that by putting a stand close to this field it would give us the vantage point so this wouldn't happen again. I picked out what I thought was a good tree and put the stand up and felt good about its placement. I sat in it daydreaming of opening day for a few minutes and in my mind's eye I could see what I was hoping would happen in the upcoming season.
Opening day came and I awoke with the alarm going off at 3am and with high hopes prepared my back pack making sure I had what I needed for a full day's hunt. With my thermos full of hot coffee and a couple sandwiches' with a snack packed away I got in my truck and headed the few mile's to Mike's house and our hunting area.
Daylight would be breaking around 6 am and as I pulled into Mike's driveway I could see slivers of light over the distant eastern hill tops and as I parked I could see that the lights were on in his house and also seen a shadow moving around as he was also preparing for the day's hunt. I stood outside my truck getting out my rifle, backpack and making sure I had all my thing's when Mike came out to meet me and we talked about our day's plan's. I told Mike I was going to make my way up to the new stand up near the field to sit and Mike told me he was going to head out to the south along a path which lead's down through the wood's to a spot where he himself has taken a couple nice deer in the past and with the scouting earlier knew there'd be deer coming through there because of the many fresh track's left behind.
The morning started out proving that it was going to be a rough one, oh not because of cold because the temperature was hanging around 38 and the day was supposed to reach into the low 50's but the wind was picking up and swirling in different direction's making it hard to pick which way to face so as not to let your scent put a damper on the day's hunt. Making as little noise as I could I slowly made my way uphill towards the stand by the field and thought of Mike doing the same to his area which in distance would not be that far from me, around 600 to 700 yard's but on the other side of the same hill.
I reached the stand and hooked my rifle to one line and my pack to another for pulling them up to me to be safe and quiet. After getting them up to me I hung my pack on a hook and loaded my rifle making sure it was on safe and sat down settling in to wait for daybreak. The day was going to be clear but with early cloud cover. We'd have to wait for the sun to break through in order to get any warmth from that but I wore enough so as not to get cold but the wind was whipping good and made it a little cold on the face. Leaves blew across the ground each time it gusted and between that and the squirrel's there was just enough noise to cover any slight noise that I'd make by moving my feet around in the stand. As I sat there shortly after daybreak I heard a few leave's rustle and picked out a partridge as it made its way slowly up towards me as it looked to forage any food off the fallen twig's and branch's. I sat perfectly still and kept my eyes on him all the while listening outside my realm for other rustling noises. He walked within 10 yards of my stand never seeing me and made his way up and out of sight through the thick shoemack that blocked one side of my stand from the ground until it would be too late as I'd be ready if anything came through them. Another hour went by with no deer and I was beginning to feel that this stand was not set the way I'd like it by facing the wrong way plus it was moving slightly as if it came loose just a little so I made a decision to move to my other stand which sat about 40 yards away on the side of the hill which I would feel more comfortable in with the wind the way it was. I lowered my pack and rifle ever so easy so as not to bang it and make unnecessary noise and climbed down quietly.
I reached my other stand in only a couple minutes and repeated my climb up. No sooner had I got settled in when I heard noise and watched the squirrels as they played and foraged for food and a barking red squirrel would sound his disapproval of them being in his area and taking his food. This went on for a while all around me and I was getting impervious to the noise when I heard walking that I knew couldn't be squirrels only 20 minutes after being in the stand. I slowly turned my head to the right and caught sight of a buck headed right towards my stand and now only about 30 yards from me. This deer came in so quiet even the squirrels were noisier then he was. He wasn't being that cautious on a continuous walk with his head to the left and not even looking my way. Not knowing I was there it gave me time to slowly take my rifle down from its peg and take it to my shoulder. I could see he had about 12 inch spikes and was of good size. What seemed like a long time was in fact only a few second's as the crosshair settled on his right shoulder and my 7MM made its report. He made a jump to his right and within 20 foot fell to the ground then it was all over.
I lowered my rifle and pack to the ground, climbed down and proceeded to my deer while taking out my radio to call Mike. I knew he heard my shot and as per our agreement would be listening to see if I got one or not. Mike didn't answer, so I figured he was waiting on a deer or something and didn't want to disturb him if he was. I called a couple times to no avail. After the formality of the call I did something that I always do upon the taking of one of God's creatures. I got on my knees and thanked God for allowing me to harvest this animal and thanked my father for teaching me about hunting and to respect nature. You see, It's not the size of the deer so much as the memories you make in life rather you get the game you're after or just enjoy what God has created for all of us.
After this was done I proceeded to clean the deer and start back down over the hill to the truck. I was almost to the bottom of the first hill when I heard Mike shoot which made me jump as he wasn't that far from me. I got out my radio and listened; sure enough Mike came on saying that he took a long shot at a nice deer but missed as he checked for signs of a hit. Coming up empty he made his way back to help me, check out my deer and take a couple pictures. He helped to load it on my truck then after congratulating me headed back out to hunt more in hopes of getting one himself.
The next day I was home taking care of a few things that need to be done before winter take's its grip on us. Deciding to take a break I came into the house to get a cup of nice hot coffee and check my email. Now I believe that Mike was trying to surprise me when I see an email from him with a picture attached. Yup, around 1pm he just had to show up the old man and take a nice 5 point buck about 150 lb.'s and deservingly so. He knew I'd call him right away to congratulate him on such a nice buck.
Yes, God was truly on our side this year allowing both of us to accomplish what we love so much. Though this season is not over yet we have a lot to be thankful for, good friendship, family and health.