Monday, October 19, 2015

October Glory

Friday, October 16th, 2015...

For months I worked and planned a field trip for my students at Stone Valley, one of my go to wilderness escapes. Great hunting and fishing there. I've taken two nice bucks and a doe there in the late season over the last few years. 

I arrived early before the buses laden with children and enjoyed a quiet hour of solitude setting up a scavenger hunt, checking on the climbing wall, and getting the canoes ready. Snapped some great pictures of the early morning fall foliage along the lake. Already a great day. Really lucked out with the weather. It snowed and rained all weekend. 

Field trip was terrific. Always good to get kids out hiking, canoeing, and climbing. I ran the hiking and canoeing station, and there is just something about teaching kids about the great outdoors that I truly enjoy. 

So, there I was cleaning up after everyone left, and eager to get out for an evening archery hunt. I dashed home (20 minutes), and checked on the family. Got the green light, and headed to a good stand on a high ridge, a place I'd seen bucks cruising the year previous. We had a cold front moving in and I thought that perhaps it might be a good call out of the seven stands I have up in my many wooded haunts. 

Splashed some pre-rut/rut scent on my boots and took a direct route to the 20 foot stand I had in an oak tree, my back covered by an evergreen. Low visibility, but some good shooting lanes. I had specifically relocated this stand from last year, because the bucks were always out of range, so I found a little covered spot that was not more than 10-25 yards from two good trails that I'd seen deer travel, especially the bucks, and especially in the evenings. 

This is literally my best evening stand. 

I settled in and watched the afternoon sun dropping directly in front of me. The breeze was from the west, and I knew I'd have to keep turning to check my back, because if anything picked up the scent trail it might approach from the rear and come up over the rise of the narrow ridgeback and cross wind. 

After what seemed like twenty minutes, some dark clouds appeared on the horizon and I knew we'd get a quick shower. I checked the wind direction with my compass, and just as I was studying it, I picked up a soft footfall at my direct 4 o'clock. I peeked over my right shoulder, and there he was. A buck! He was picking up the scent trail. 

I couldn't believe it at first. Wow, is this real? I could see he was a least a six pointer, so he was legal, and a good sized deer. I didn't move, because even though I had the height advantage, I was still in his peripheral line of site. I waited for that oh so sweet quartering away shot. Plus, I still had the compass to stash. He finally turned to pick up the scent again, and I acted quickly. I spun and placed the 20 yard pin on his ribs and shot. He spun in reaction and tore down the trail whence he had come. 

I knew all the practice all summer was leading to this point. I didn't need to overthink the shot, just make it. I could already see some blood, so I climbed down and checked the spot where I thought I hit him. I found the broadhead. Blood everywhere. But, I remembered some lessons past about pushing deer and the death run, so I waited there and pulled out the binos. 

And, about 35 yards down the trail I spotted him. Dead as the tree trunk he was parallel with. Wow. I checked my watch. 34 minutes. 34 minutes!  It doesn't get any sweeter than that. So, on a banner day, I was dragging what turned out to be a fat, crafty-racked 8-pointer out of the woods by 5 p.m. 

Had him hanging and ready for butchering by evening, and it was wonderful surprising my family with him. I guessed him to be a 2 year-old buck. I think I may have seen him the year prior when he was a wily 3 pointer. 

So far, the ribs, loins, and chuck meat have been downright terrific. My first October buck. Steaks and roasts for the autumn. And, good memories. 

Looking forward to pheasant on Saturday and a few more evenings in the stand before rifle. I still have two doe tags. But, in my year, the mighty buck has been hammered! Yeeeehahhhh!!!