First Michigan Buck of 2010
The start of 2010 deer season was upon me. I usually just hunt my home state of Indiana, but this year I moved to MI about 30 minutes from the Michigan/Indiana line. I just acquired permission to hunt a farm in southwest Michigan. October 1st was season opener, it was on a Friday this year. I usually hop over to some public land and smack a doe the first day. But this year my work schedule has changed. I wouldn't get off work till 4:00 PM and would have an hour to drive there. Now I normally would have done this, but I didn't want to mess with a doe the day before opening weekend. I wouldn't have been able to tag it in till the morning and then have to get it into the processer.
I don't hunt my property in Indiana till the rut is starting to heat up. So no pressure is applied to it at all. I have found I will see more mature bucks this way and have had better success. But this year I have been getting trail camera pictures of a real nice 11 point that I found sheds of the year before. He was an easy 150's buck. Been getting daylight photos of him all of September. Now I have to figure out where I want to hunt my first weekend. I decide to hunt the Michigan farm even though I know there is a big buck running around my property.
I scouted the Michigan farm in the middle of September. The owner walked me around and told me where him and his family hunt at. They are only gun hunters, so I have the whole 40 acres of woods to myself. I locate a pine thicket with lots of new growth of trees in the 2-6 foot range, towards the one corner and no one hunts over here. I notice a couple small rubs on some trees. Not a lot of food in that area but the woods has beans on one side and corn on the other. So I pick out a tree that I can get my climber in. All these trees are big mature trees with little to no lower branches on them. So I won't have any back cover and will be sticking out like a sore thumb, plus I will have my buddy/cameraman up there with me.
We make our way quietly through the woods to our tree for the day. We start our ascent up the tree. I settle in at 25 feet and camera man at 30 feet, let the fun begin. 30 minutes after day light I catch a glimpse of a buck and his white flag bounding off in the distance. I know it didn't see us or hear us. Wind was swirling pretty bad, but we were as scent free as one could be. I didn't think that was it as the deer was 70+ yards away. Then the biggest grey fox I have ever seen come from the same area with her two pups. Really a grey fox scared the buck off? A hour latter here comes a buck. I can't tell if was same one or not, but he was coming from same direction. I tell my cameraman he's a shooter get ready. The deer walks right at our tree and pauses at 2 yards with me at full draw. I pass on the shot as I believe it is a bad angle. He continues around the tree and I have him dead broadside at 11 yards. But cameraman can't get on him. At 20 yards my cameraman gets back around the tree and says he is on him. I lightly mouth grunted and boom he was gone. I must have said something he didn't like. I was bummed, big mature deer in shooting distance and I didn't close the deal. I turned to my cameraman and said had him at two yards but won't take a bad shot just to try and kill a deer, I don't need one that bad.
This is the problem you run into when trying to get a hunt on film, two people have to be on the same page. I had him in sights and cameraman didn't. Then He had him but branch would be in the way. That's the game and it just makes it that much more challenging, and I love it.
I told my cameraman since we were so close to what I thought might be a bedding area we would sit all day and he agreed. I knew this was going to be a long day since days were still long and woods being full of leaves still, we wouldn't see a lot of deer. Watched a couple squirrels playing, a mix of birds, and a couple doe and fawns wonder through the woods. I tried a couple grunting sequences without any response. Lunch time rolled around and we opened our slick meat sandwiches and snacks trying to be as quiet as possible.
Shortly after lunch around 2:00 PM, it was like a switch was flipped. Deer were up on their feet and feeding as they cruised through the woods. Had a couple young bucks pass by with in bow range, but wasn't what I was looking for. Had a good size doe work her way into my kill zone and tempt me many times. She even eventually bedded 20 yards away. The vision of back straps wondered through my mind. But I hesitated at the urge of the first harvest of the season.
3:00 PM we hear a noise in the pine thicket. Sounds like a buck making a rub. I scan the area with binoculars and catch glimpse of a tree moving. I make a couple of short grunts trying to lure the buck out of the thicket. Nothing, it's been 20 minutes since I seen the buck making the rub. I quietly tell my cameraman, he's still has to be in there. He's probably standing in one place looking and listening. The wind is minimal and it's in our favor. Now 30 minutes after the sighting I turn my back to the thicket and make a couple more grunts along with a snort wheeze. We see the same tree getting rubbed on again, I said he's mad. I didn't have any rattling antlers with me to rub on the tree, so I started rubbing the edge of my boots up and down the tree trying to make a rubbing noise then as soon as I stopped I snort wheezed again. We catch movement and he's on his way our way. He appeared in the corner of the thicket that put my tree in between me and him, so no shot. He stands there looking in one direction only moving his ears for about 10 minutes. Finally he starts his way out, but starts to angle back around the thicket. I don't have time to range him as he is traveling, but I pre ranged a couple trees around me for reference. He turns to walk back into the thicket and I let out a light grunt with my mouth to try and stop him. He pauses just long enough to give me a shot. I put my 30 yard pin right behind the shoulder for a broadside shot. The arrow is cut loose sending my 2 blade blood runner looking for its spot. Whack I hit him and he starts to bound off.
I instantly see a good bit of the arrow sticking out of his shoulder. I can't remember the last time I didn't get a pass through. I'm shooting a fast Athens Accomplice that produces 92 pounds of kinetic energy. I start running the shot through my head to see what I did wrong. I instantly realize I miss judged the yardage. I then remember I was wearing different gloves then what I practiced with. These are the excuses I was coming up with as too why I made a bad shot. He runs 20 yards and stops, is he going to fall tight there? He starts to walk off then bolts again into the woods. This is the first time shooting these broad heads and I didn't know how they would handle the bone hit. I wait a 30-40 min and climb down to check blood. Within 5 yards of the shot started to find decent blood. Followed blood to where the buck had stopped and found my arrow, with only 4" broke off. I get that instant sick to the stomach feeling, thinking the arrow didn't make it through the shoulder. The blood instantly about dries up with only a drop here and there. 200 yards into the recovery I jump him and decide to come back in the morning.
I bring another friend with me to help track. We start where I jumped him the night before, and find no blood. So we spread out doing a grid search. 3 hours into the search without any more blood, and about to give up, we find a drop of blood by the pine thicket we were hunting by. Inside the thicket I find my buck dead 40 yards from the tree I shot him from, sweet success. Now the fun of getting the big mature whitetail out of the woods. This is where having friends along comes in handy. We get him out of the woods and up on the meat pole, all 246 pounds of him. Before skinning the 2" entry hole was very visible, but how did it handle the shoulder? I get him dressed out and find I only got one lung, next I start skinning him. After I got him all skinned out I notice the opposite shoulder is a little bloody. Removed front shoulder and found the remainder of my arrow. The head survived both shoulder hits and blades were still attached. We grilled inner loins that night for dinner and shared a couple beers and discussed the hunt and the experiences, and what to do next.