The Early Bird Gets the Worm
For big bow hunters all around, the beginning of the season is a time we anticipate with great enthusiasm. Everyone has their bows tuned in, tree stands set, and you just can't wait to try out that new decoy. But, is every bow hunter really prepared to see more big bucks in that first evening than they ever had before? Well, I wasn't. I took for granted the fact that the first day of the season may be the day where there is no room for error. By the time the rut kicks in we have taken care of all the nicks and knacks, but sometimes it's too late. The opportunity you blew in the early season was the only opportunity that presented itself.
Everyone can see big bucks, but if you can't deliver perfect execution when the moment presents itself, you may be slobbering over the television for the next year watching Lee and Tiffany shoot the big ones. And it just so happened that my big moment presented itself on the first evening of bow season. Of course I wasn't planning on seeing a big buck that first evening. It's never happened that way before. It had been almost a year since I had been in a tree stand. All I cared about was getting out and hopefully seeing a few deer.
I had scouted this area with a few Moultrie trail cameras, and knew of a few big bucks hanging around. I just didn't figure I would see them all the first evening! So that first day I got all my hunting equipment ready to go; grunt call, rattles, scent away, the works. Right after I practiced shooting a few shots with my Diamond compound I headed off to my stand. When I got up in my stand I was just happy to be there.
Once September hits it seems like an eternity before October rolls around, so this moment couldn't have come sooner. I had a nice little setup in a tree on a fence line, with woods in front of me, a cornfield on my right, and soybeans on my left. Wouldn't you know, after sitting in my stand for only 25 minutes, a 140 class eight pointer walks out of the woods on the same fence line that I was set up on. This was the same eight pointer I had on trail camera from the year before. He was very distinct in that he had a cowlick on the back of his neck, and brow tines that started out very wide, so he wasn't hard to identify. He was about 100 yards away when he walked out. I couldn't believe it. I had been preparing all summer for this moment and it was all happening within only 25 minutes of sitting in my stand!
When he looked to the ground, I slowly stood up and got my release on the string. He started walking right down the fence line, right at me. Things were all going to come together. But then, he got 50 yards away, smelled the ground, looked up, turned around, and went back in the woods. You might be wondering how this was a mistake I made. Well I'll tell you. The path I took to my tree stand was the same path this deer was walking to me. I knew these bucks had been taking this path as well, so I should have taken a different route to my stand. My next mistake was the deer may have smelled my boots. I was wearing Rocky boots because I had forgotten my LaCrosse Alphaburly boots at my parent's house. Needless to say I felt pretty devastated. I made a few small mistakes that probably just cost me a big buck.
45 minutes later I felt a little better when I seen what was coming from my left. Two, 130 class bucks came grazing into the bean field. They ended up coming within 30 yards of me, but knowing that the 140 class eight was still out there was enough to make me hold off. I had never passed up a 130 class buck, but seeing a much bigger one a half hour earlier made me persevere. I even seen two does and another 130 class buck come out of the woods before dark, and walk by me on my right side. This was by far, the best evening of hunting I had experienced that early in the season. I had an opportunity to shoot three bucks in the 130's, and almost a shot on the big eight!
Lucky for me, I got another opportunity at the brute the following week. On October 7th, I was off to the woods around 4:15 in the evening. In previous trail camera shots, I noticed the big buck had been coming out of the corn most often, making his way to the woods. On this particular day the wind was blowing from the field to the woods, so naturally I figured the best place to set up was downwind of where I thought the buck would come from, which was the cornfield. I learned from my mistake the previous week, so I decided to take a different path than usual to where I was going to set up my climber. I ended up getting in a tree just inside the woods, about 250 yards away from the cornfield. I didn't want to be seen if something did come from the field so I faced my stand away from the field so my tree would serve as camouflage. I really felt good about this evening.
A cold spell had come through so the deer were moving. I had been in the stand for 45 minutes and hadn't seen anything yet, but I was still hopeful. At 5:45 I heard a stick break from behind me. I slowly glanced over my shoulder and to my amazement the big eight was staring right at me, with a nine pointer standing right behind him from about 70 yards away. I thought I had messed up again because he had spotted me. A moment later he put his head to the ground and began walking right at me. I knew it was now or never to stand up so I slowly rose out of my seat. He didn't see me stand up so that was a plus. I thought for sure the smaller nine would come through first, since a smaller buck usually leads when the two are together. Lucky for me the big eight walked right underneath of me. I was able to hold off until he got in front of me a bit. He was walking at a steady pace so I was going to have to make an attempt to stop him. As he walked directly underneath me I slowly drew back as I attempted some fancy footwork to get my body turned so I could make the shot. At about 13 yards he was quartered perfectly as he was still walking. I gave out a loud bleat to stop him and it worked. I placed my first pin behind the front shoulder and let my arrow fly. When I heard the familiar thwack of my two blade rage hitting that buck I knew I had made a good shot.
I found him about 200 yards from where I shot him. He was a shade over 22 inches wide and scored 140. He wasn't the biggest buck in the world, but a trophy to me. The moral of this story is be prepared to see the big one from the beginning of the season to the end. You never know when he's going to show up. When opportunity comes calling you don't want to let yourself down.
Trail cam photo from previous year.