Dad's Big Eight
Back in the late 80’s, my father and I had permission to hunt a good sized chunk of land close to our house in northern Vermont. We saw lots of good deer there, and very few hunters. However, all that changed when we actually shot a deer or two. Word got out, and as it always happens, more hunters found their way into the property. The owner didn’t seem to mind giving out permission, since he lived 50 miles away and never really visited the property. He never thought about the effect that lots of hunters would have.
After another year or two, we decided enough was enough and we started looking for some new land to hunt. My father found a patch of land that consisted of no more than 50-60 acres of woods, surrounded on all sides by fields. There were bigger woods just across the road, so the deer would travel in and out, but it was sort of it’s own island out there all alone.
We did some scouting of the land, and found a nice overgrown apple orchard, blocked from any road hunters by a thin strip of trees at the edge of the field. On the back side of this orchard, was a nice little cedar swamp, tapering off into some pine trees, and then into hardwoods. We found one or two great little deer trails going through the pines at the edge of the swamp. So, my father found a really big rock, which provided the perfect cover. It had a nice, foot thick pine tree up against it, which was great for resting against. A few blowdowns and older logs were stacked around the rock, and a nice ground blind was built.
The season came around, and my father was excited to get out. I was not going to be back until the middle weekend of the 2 week season, so my dad would try out the place first. It was the middle of the week, and my father headed out for an evening hunt. Up until this time, my father had shot 5 or 6 deer, but they were all yearlings, nothing over 120 pounds or so. He was more than happy with those, and would be this day if one presented a shot at this new location.
So, he settled in. About an hour after settling down, he heard a commotion back in the swamp. Having never really hunted this spot before, he was not sure what to expect from the deer here. He thought, would they come out to my right? Would they come out to my left? Would they be on the move, or would they just be casually moving through on their way to one of the many fields or orchards in the area. It was tough to tell, and all these questions went through my father’s mind. The biggest question of all though, was this a deer, or something else. And if it was, was it a buck, or a doe, or both? Well, he had to wait a few minutes, as whatever it was, did not appear to be in a rush to come out and play. After what seemed like an eternity, and was in actuality only 5 minutes or so, he saw movement coming from his left. He saw a body, darker than anything he had seen before, or since. I remember that to this day, because he seemed to be more concerned with that. One of the first things he said was that he couldn’t believe how dark it was, and almost didn’t think it was a deer. He slid the gun up, and very shortly had no problem telling that it was a deer. The deer had his head stuck to the ground, most likely looking for a doe that had passed through before my father got there. The moment came when he hit an opening, and all my father saw was a rack. There was no doubt now, and he found his shooting lane. The deer stepped into it, and one well placed shot sent the buck down.
Considering it had only been 3 or 4 days of hunting, on a property we had only lightly scouted, my father said he had to take a moment to compose himself. He finally walked over to his deer. It was a beautiful 8 point, and weighed out at a nice 169 pounds. That was the biggest deer my father had ever shot. When I came home a couple of days later, he had not told me yet. We pulled up to the neighbor’s garage and Dad opened the door. I saw this very big deer hanging there, and for a moment was puzzled. It didn’t take me long to realize what, or more importantly whose it was.
I hunted that rock the next week, and on Thanksgiving day, was rewarded with my first deer ever. The next year, Dad and I each got a deer, and his buddy got one too. It was a great spot. However, that eventually turned into the spot’s downfall, when during the 3rd season, as I was sitting in my stand the opening day of archery, I heard someone and then saw feet walking through the pines. I “coughed” to get his attention, and he left. I found a note on my car from that hunter complaining that he had used twine and branches to “funnel” the deer to where he wanted them to go, and I ruined it. Never found out for sure who it was, but we had a good idea. It looked like same thing was happening here. We got 5 deer off the property in 2 years, and in came the other hunters.
But I digress, this is a happy story, about a great deer. It all worked out in the end though, as we moved just a few miles away to another piece of that family’s property. We have taken some nice deer out of there too, and more importantly, rarely ever see another hunter, so it’s all good.