My first year hunting this property (2004) was the last year before I deployed to Afghanistan. I missed the '05 season to a deployment and have been blessed to have hunted the same family land for 10 years now. As if hunting here wasn't enough, I've had the honor of sharing hunts with other veterans over the past several years as well.
I scout, put up stands, blinds, fill feeders, check cameras and build pens all by myself. Hunting an 80 acre farm, it's difficult to "manage" to any capacity. But I still throw corn year-round and started protein last year. I try to give the other family members my best advice on where the deer are moving, what time they're feeding and what works. I get more excited than the other hunters when they get something because I feel like I've helped the cause. Hopefully someday, my daughter will reep the rewards to the work that goes on out here.
Yesterday's hunt was uneventful for a solid 2 1/2 hours, but I kept busy on Facebook looking over pictures of the guys I was in Kuwait and Afghanistan with. Stories I went over in my head: walking up the ramp of a C-130 at 3 o'clock in the morning in Bagram headed to Kandahar, setting poles all day in a mine field (unbeknown to us at the time), seeing the thermometer pegged out at 10 o'clock in the morning, eating, showering and training with the same guys for 16-months. We even got up in the middle of the night to watch the Texas-USC national championship game. I had a man tell me once: "the hunting is always good, but the shooting is sometimes slow."
I grunted and wheezed him up blind with 7 minutes of legal light left and thumped him with a 7mm mag using Core-Lokts. He piled up 50 yards from impact. I was worried because I didn't see much blood at all. I could and should have followed my nose instead of my eyes because when I found him, he was rank and heavy....good gosh he was heavy.
We don't have anything special out here, but it's ours. I've seen bigger, called up and rattled bigger, have pictures of bigger and tried to put other hunters on bigger deer....but this one is mine. He's my 10-year anniversary buck out here and got him on Veteran's Day.
Now I know what a real "trophy" is. My wife asked me if I was going to get him mounted....I obliged, not soley for the deer, but mainly for the memories of the past 10 years.