South Carolina 'Trick or Treat' Buck
Settling into my stand in the early afternoon, I had no idea the delights that Nature had in store for me.
Just a few days before Halloween, the kids in the neighborhood would soon be lining up for the treats that were already positioned in the bowl by the front door.
Positioned up above a dense thicket that ran along a swamp bottom, I had a decent view of the creek area as it opened up in front of me. From past experience, we knew that does often use this semi-hidden corridor as a travel route. Knowing this, I also figured that there may be a buck or two in the area, as late October often finds the does being pursued rather aggressively in our area of the South.
Passing the early afternoon hours watching the squirrels, I caught a glimpse of brown out in the distance. Heart pounding now, I leaned forward, only to see a bobcat gliding along, eventually passing within 30 yards of the stand. What a wonderful creature, but back to the business at hand!
Shortly after the cat went by, I spotted a small 8 point buck working his way across the swamp. He paused briefly when he crossed the trail of the bobcat, but showed no real alarm. He wandered into the thicket and eventually wound up directly behind me.
A few moments later, 2 does came out of the thicket behind me and started across the swamp with the 8 pointer following – but none of the deer were hurrying. Just seconds later, they came back with the small buck in closer tow and now appearing to be more interested. Moving a bit quicker, they walked back into the thicket. Hmmm, now this is starting to get interesting!
Following shortly afterwards, the woods seemed to explode! One of the does came busting out of the thicket and ran north along the edge of the swamp with 2 bucks in hot pursuit! I could not really tell the size of the racks, although I would assume that one of them was the small buck from earlier. As they ran, one of them was literally trying to jump on the doe’s back! Having none of that, off she went like a rocket sled on rails!
Wow, I thought – now, it is REALLY interesting! With no more time gone by than it takes to tell you about it, here she came again, this time running southward back down the swamp with the two bucks still in tow! Both of the bucks were jockeying for position and grunting for all they were worth! Great Scott – the rut is full on and I have a ring side seat! They quickly passed out of sight behind my stand. Turning to get better positioned in the stand and hoping for more participants, I can hear twigs snapping and more grunting as two more bucks came charging through on the same path! They too were jockeying for position and grunting to beat the band! Four bucks chasing the same doe – "can it get any better than this?" I wondered to myself, only to find the answer immediately evident as yet another buck came flashing down the exact same lane of travel. This one was a slightly larger eight point but still not the one I was looking for. No more than ten seconds behind him, here came yet another smaller buck that appeared to be a forkhorn, yet he sounded like a steamroller as he came grunting past! Boy, oh, boy – this is SWEET!
The woods seemed to settle then as I sat there with my head literally spinning! What a sight! Did I just see what I thought I saw?
A branch broke in the direction that the deer had all come from. Can I be that lucky I wondered? That thought was answered by a crashing sound and a deeper, guttural grunting that was coming from the same direction the other deer had come from – I looked up to see a nice buck with his head down, running along the same path – his antlers outside his ears and looking like they were two feet tall! Moving at a fast clip, I knew he would take the same path as the ones before him. I waited for him to come to a small clearing and tried to whistle him stopped and do you think I could make a sound? No way!!!! Taking the best aim I could, I fired as he moved between two trees and saw him stumble and begin to fall and he moved into the thicket! I was pretty sure I heard him collapse just further into the thicket, yet I decided to wait.
Sitting back down in the stand, I tried to make sense of it all. Seven bucks chasing one doe and I was right in the middle of it! What a wonderful Halloween treat!!!
As I waited and tried to calm back down (did I mention I was excited?) my mind drifted back over 30 years of deer hunting. I was reminded of how wonderful and peaceful our time in the woods can be – and now I was reminded of how hectic it can be!
Waiting for what seemed like an eternity; I let 30 minutes pass by and slowly descended the tree. Walking no more than five yards in the direction I thought he may be, I could see him lying in the path that led back out to the log road I had come in on. As I looked at his nine point rack – my best ever in terms of beauty and symmetry – I was again reminded of the true gift that we have in Mother Nature.
My brother was supposed to have joined me for this hunt and he had been late getting there. As I rode the four wheeler back to the house, hoping he would have arrived, I was rewarded to find him standing on the porch grinning at me. "Well, if I see you on the four wheeler and it is not dark yet, I know you got one – come on, let’s go get him" he jokingly said to me.
As we made our way back to the log road, I was again rewarded with a sense of unity, of brotherhood, of wonder and of all things good. These things that are gifts from Nature and from God – if we will just have them, respect them and enjoy them. Months have passed since that day but the memories remain. That afternoon was the start of a two and a half day hunt in which I personally saw 18 bucks. Every once in a while, the stars line up and you get to see the best, I was just fortunate to be in the path of one of the best rut hunts in our memories!!