Having retired in August of 2010 and failing to harvest an Elk during 1st rifle – no scratch failing – I learned a lot of what I need to do differently to be flexible in my hunting plans. After coming home empty-handed and my wife seeing me moping around the house, she suggested I call Dad and make arrangements to go there over Thanksgiving and participate in the 2010 gun season for whitetail. I love my wife. She was working at the city hospital and going to school. She wasn’t going to be home much of the time anyhow. So I decided I was going. I love my wife.
I landed in Akron, Ohio Thanksgiving evening at 6pm, rented a SUV, and drove down to Dad’s farm. I pulled up to the house at 7:30pm and Dad greeted me at the door. After a big (manly) hug he helped me in. I immediately smelled the turkey dinner waiting for him and me to feast on. Mom was visiting Grandma in Kansas and would be home Saturday – so it was just Dad and I. We feasted and then spent the rest of the evening catching up on what he was observing with the deer movement on the farm.
The plan was to bow hunt Friday through Sunday and then hunt the gun season Monday and Tuesday. I had left a bow there years ago along with about a dozen arrows and Dad has an ample collection of firearms so I was all set.
I had got up early and hunted to the last possible legal minute all of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I saw a lot of deer but I was picky. I wanted one large doe or large buck to take home – nothing less and nothing more. Here’s why… I packed one suitcase with the clothes I needed inside of another larger suitcase for my trip out there. The plan was to harvest a deer, butcher it on the farm, get it frozen solid, then pack it in the second suitcase and pay the airlines $25.00 for the extra bag to get it home. I could always use the second suitcase too in order to keep both bags under the 50 pound limit. It was only going to be a 7 hour total flight time to home and I figured I could pack it well enough to get the meat home still frozen. And it beats the $150.00 or more it was going to cost to use one of those shipping companies.
So no shot with the bow was made. My brothers arrived Sunday evening and we gave each other a big (again manly) hug and spent the rest of the evening reminiscing and discussion where we were hunting the following day.
Dad had been telling me of these 8, 10, and 12 point bucks he had seen up in the large field west of the house. They were all seen with large doe in the field as well… so that is where I was going. Dad had told me this way back on Thursday night. I had been hunting that field since Friday. Everything I had seen was too small to shoot at. But Dad knows his deer so for the fourth day in a row I was sitting in one of the stands.
Monday morning and afternoon came and went. All I was seeing was small deer but I wasn’t getting down and taking my chance of going elsewhere or possibly spooking one of the big bucks. So I sat and sat and sat. 4pm – tick tock – 5pm – tick tock - I’m thinking time is running out for my plan. In order to really be able to butcher and freeze the meat and be prepared for the flight I can’t go more than maybe early tomorrow with harvesting my deer. Tick tock. I only had about 15 more minutes left in the Monday hunt. I’m really questioning what Dad had been saying. 10 minutes left. Tick tock. I saw movement to my far right. Tick tock. It was the 8 point buck leading the way with 2 large doe trailing him by 10 and 15 yards. Tick tock. That buck wasted no time walking right in front of the stand. I placed my crosshairs right behind his shoulder and squeezed off my shot. The buck dropped immediately. Hooray! I was taking meat home. Or maybe not. I broke the rule. I only waited about 5 minutes before safely descending the tree stand as it was going to get dark soon. As soon as I got off of the ladder that nice 8 point heard me place my 1st footstep forward (he was only 25 yards away) and promptly got up and trotted across the field. I could only watch as he crossed the high point of the field and disappeared down the other side out of my site. I was horrified… but I was not going to run after him. I made one mistake and wasn’t going to make two. I knew there was a good blood trail as I could see the blood from where I stood. So I waited the proper time – this time. Tick tock. It was dark now so I pulled my flashlight out and started my search. Luckily for me, as I reached the high place in the field where I last saw that buck there he lay about 10 yards in front of me. I said to myself - I never made that mistake before and I won’t repeat it. My shot hit one lung but only grazed the other and the heart. Here is a picture of Dad with my buck.
Tuesday I butchered and froze that deer. Wednesday I traveled back to Colorado. The meat was fine upon arrival and I enjoyed the venison it provided.