I was bow hunting a farm that I had gun hunted for 6 years. The landowner who also gun hunted the farm wouldn't let me bow hunt because he thought it spooked the deer for gun season.
After several years of asking...I decided to ask him when he was drunk one night
HEY....CUT ME SOME SLACK...IT WORKED
I knew that if I ever got permission to bow hunt this farm, I would know right where to go.
One my first night of the season....I was almost to the stand on a super windy night when I realized that I had forgotten the rope to my safety harness in the truck. I decided to get in the stand anyway
After about an hour of swaying back and forth...I decided that being in a tree without being secured was STUPID. I was in the process of lowering my bow to the ground when I heard noise. 30+ longbeards strolled right past my tree....a turkey tag in my pocket and my Hoyt on the ground
Soon after they left I got down and moved to a spot on the ground where I could hide in a dead fall. I was there for all of 60 seconds when I caught movement to my right. A decent 8 point had just left a cornfield and was heading my way. When he was facing me @ 20 yards....I drilled him. He ran 30 yards and tipped over.
Now fast forward 40 days.....I was back at the farm trying to fill my second buck tag. It was a perfect fall Sunday...overcast and cold. While heading to a stand I couldn't help but hear a bunch of turkeys making all sorts of noise at the west end of the property.
I decided to see if I could put the sneaky sneak on them so I changed course and headed to the west timber. Once I crossed a open field and entered the timber, I was sorta' surprised that I was able to cross in the open without being detected.
The strip of timber I was in ran north and south and was about 80 yards wide. It had a picked cornfield to the east and the west side dropped off sharply to a small river below. There were two main deer trails paralleling each other about 20 yards apart running down the middle of the timber.
I was on the east trail slowly creeping up on the turkeys. The more noise they made...the faster I moved. They were on the move as well so it made it difficult to catch up.
As I made my way north....I caught movement to my left. Just up ahead of me was a nice set of antlers on the west trail heading south. I knew things were gonna' happen fast so I quickly tucked in behind a big 'ol oak tree and came to full draw. Only 15 seconds had passed from the time I spotted the buck until now.....and when he was just 2 steps from entering a shooting lane, he stopped dead in his tracks.
I stood there for what seemed like forever as the back looked back over his shoulder. I think he was looking in the direction of the turkeys... it didn't matter because he wasn't moving and my arms were starting to burn.
With a mature buck at 20 yards and me on the ground, I was afraid to let down...but I had to. The buck heard me but it didn't spook him
Instead, he just looked straight ahead and continued down the trail. I came to full draw as quickly as I could...but I was too quick. As I pulled back...the arrow fell off the rest. To add insult to injury, the buck heard the noise and stopped broadside...RIGHT IN MY SHOOTING LANE
Here I was again...full draw with a beauty of a buck in front of me and I couldn't shoot. Imagine being at full draw, the buck broadside at 20 yards, and your arrow laying on the ground.
The deer looked at me for about 10 seconds and decided to head back the way he came from. It was an amazing encounter...but I still had a few tears in my eyes.
The next day was rough. I spent the entire 8 hours at work wondering what could have been. I had no intention of going out after work because the drive to the farm plus the walk to a stand would only leave me about 30 minutes to hunt.
With about 10 minutes of work left...I decided to give it a go. I had everything I needed in my truck so as soon as I punched out I was MOVING! I grabbed all of my camo out of my tub and threw it in the front seat with me. I had a 20 minute drive to the farm and I took that time to change. (the car behind me must have thought I was nuts
I had already decided that I would go back to that big oak to see if I could get any cruisers to pass by in the little time that I had left. Once at the farm, I grabbed the bow and ran across two fields so I could get set up ASAP.
I entered the timber at the south end and followed the same trail up to the oak from the day before. I wasted no time getting to the tree and as soon as I arrived I started clearing some leaves so I wouldn't make any noise if I had to shuffle my feet.
I was about 10 seconds into clearing leaves when I heard something behind me to the south. I looked up and saw the buck from the day before....on the same trail as yesterday but coming from the south.
I just had enough time to nock and arrow and come to full draw when he entered the only shooting lane I had through some brush. I touched off the trigger and my arrow hit a twig...sending it back and low. The buck ran off to the north and I found myself with a tear in my eye for a second day in a row.
I knew the shot was bad so I headed home to wait. I thought about waiting until morning but decided to go look after 6 hours. I drove back up to the farm and it didn't take long to find blood. I assumed it would be a long tracking job so I started marking the trail with toilet paper from the get go.
I followed blood for about 100 yards north through the timber, about 40 yards through tall grass, and then another 30 or 40 yards into the next batch of timber. The blood trail was now heading downhill towards the river and I knew that even if I found the buck that night...getting him out of there by myself would be impossible. So, I marked the last spot of blood and headed home to wait until morning. Just before I headed back to the truck, I heard a noise in the river bottom. I thought it might be the buck and that made it easier to back out.
Being that it was a work day, I knew it would be tough finding help to get the buck out of the bottoms if I found him. After striking out on finding help, I took the morning off of work and headed back to the farm. I started out at the beginning of the blood trail and followed it for a second time. I did this to get a feel for the bucks direction of travel plus I might see something that I had missed the night before...the buck, the arrow, etc, etc.
When I got back to that last spot from the night before, I found a deer's tail laying on a log where I marked the last spot. I then started to freak out...thinking that the noise I heard the night before was coon hunters that watched me tracking the deer the night before...then found the deer after I left....leaving me a keepsake.
I followed the blood trail down to the river bottom and found myself walking in circles. There was blood everywhere! I walk back and forth in the tall grass and each trail I followed led back to another blood trail. Nothing was making any sense.
I did a grid search in the tall grass and found nothing. I did this for quite some time but just found myself getting madder and madder...still thinking that someone had taken my deer.
After a long morning of searching, I finally called it quits. As I started my way back up the steep hill out of the bottoms, I noticed an odd shape to my right. THAT SHAPE WAS BONE
There he was!!!! Not sure how I missed him in my grid search...but it didn't matter 'cause there he was.
My best bow buck to date was a 110" 8 point and I was now staring at a beautiful 13 point that would be pushing 140". As I got closer to the buck something didn't look right. It was then that I solved the "blood everywhere" mystery. Coyotes had found him before I did. They had removed one hind quarter and field dressed him for me
This still doesn't explain the deer tail on the trail. My guess is that a coyote was walking around with the tail in its mouth and dropped it when it came across my scent. I'll never know...sounds good though
So...here I am....a big ol' buck...standing at the bottom of a steep hill...and it was raining. I grabbed a hold of the deer and started dragging. By the time I got to the base of the hill I knew I was gonna' have fun. The buck was heavy and the ground was slippery.
After what seemed like forever, I was able to get the buck to the top of the hill by holding onto small trees with one hand and pulling with the other. (If I tried that today and would fall over dead
Now at the top of the hill, I still had to drag this buck about 300 yards to the truck. Driving across the field was not an option because of the wet conditions. I was totally exhausted from the climb up the hill but adrenalin was keeping me going. I would drag the buck about 10-20 yards and then rest. I made it back to the truck with about 1% of my energy left. I'm still not sure how I got him in the back of the truck...but I did.
I drove straight to my parents house to show them my deer. They knew how much I loved hunting and I knew they would be very proud of me. I finally shot a good'en!!!
What a crazy year....2 trips to the farm....2 bucks down....and a total time hunting from the the ground of about 70 seconds