My father, BIL and I made the trip up to the lease. Unless something changes (or unless we kill out in Kansas), my father and I will probably not be back out to this lease until Thanksgiving.
We have had some nice deer on camera, but nothing like we were hoping for. One of the theories is that we are seeing the result of the drought 4-6 years ago and are seeing that in the mature deer and the smaller antlers in those age classes. We didn't get the rain that most the state did this Spring, but we still had good rain. The Summer dried up like it did everywhere and the pastures aren't in the best condition. This has made corn a high commodity and we have had some great hunts with plenty of deer each set. We do have a few nice deer running around and have been putting our limited time into hunting these.
Since this is the last weekend that we would be there for awhile, it was time to get serious...but the weather wasn't very cooperative. Again, we didn't get the rain that most the State saw this weekend and we didn't even get the rain that our neighbors did. It became a joke that there was a High pressure zone sitting over the ranch. You could watch the storms literally split around us. Problem was, those cells made the wind unpredictable and kept me out of two of my favorite sets
I was only able to work in 2 hunts were I got to sit out. Since the wind changed, I let my BIL hunt one of my stands that has a nice 8 coming in and decided to sit in the rifle blind and watch my dad try to kill his kicker deer.
Turned out to be one of those hunts that I will remember for a long time.
We have had pictures of an 8 pointer with 2 kickers coming into this stand since September. Dad will typically see him 3 to 5 hunts a weekend, but hasn't been able to connect. He has plenty of video, but the right shot just hasn't been there. He had one shot opportunity, but it only lasted about 7 seconds and he hesitated.
Saturday night, it couldn't have been planned any better. Pop's got set up in the bow blind and I settled into the rifle blind. Within 20 minutes, some doe and a nice 8 pointer showed up. More deer were moving in, so I pulled out the video camera to find that he hadn't charged it
No problem, just used my redneck zoom (phone and binoculars) and snapped a few pictures and took some video.
About 30-40 minutes into the hunt, I noticed a buck come over the north ridge and was working down the fence line. Didn't take but a quick look and I knew it was the buck that we were waiting on. He still had to make it in without anything happening, he had to get on our side of the tall fence and then he had to leave the feeder and go to the chum pile...which had been the issue in the past.
He came on down the fence line and started feeding across the fence. Didn't take long and he moved off to the south and jumped the fence but went straight back into the feeder pen. The waiting game had begun...
More deer had showed up by this time. Finally, I caught a mature deer coming out of the woods. He came up and was the dominant buck, and pushed our buck off the feeder. His only option was the chum pile.
Part of the chum pile was blocked from my view, so I couldn't see what was going on. I was waiting to hear the shot and trying to watch both sides of the bow blind to see which way the deer went so I could mark the trail as best I could.
The waiting was exciting. I wasn't sure how well I would be able to hear the shot or how quick I would be able to pick the buck out when he broke loose, because he was going to be mixed in with alot of deer.
Seemed like forever, but all of a sudden, I heard all kinds of noise. Sounded like someone ran into a fence post and rattled the fence. Not really sure what just happened, deer bolted everywhere, except the 8 in the feed pen and two doe across the fence. I marked the deer I was supposed too and he made it about 50 yards before he stopped to look back. I am guessing that the deer remaining there and the mature deer already feeding again made him decide it was his imagination because him and 8 other deer started working their way back in.
I couldn't believe it. He was going to get a second chance! The deer came in to the North side of the chum pile and I could see him this time. I didn't realize at the time, but Dad couldn't see real well that far over, but I couldn't figure out why he wasn't shooting. That is when the noise from before came back into my mind and I began to worry that maybe my Dad's bow had done something and he could be hurt. I decided to wait a little longer, but wasn't going to give it too much time. The more time past, the more I began to worry...That was when the second shot went off. I could see his luminock fly and connect. The deer dropped in its track, spun once and made three leaps off the front end off to the north.
I turned my redneck camera back on and started filming again. Dad waited a few minutes, got out of his stand and worked his way over to the deer. The deer gave a few good attempts at leaving, but couldn't get his rear behind him. I finally got the wave that he was done, so I headed that way. Dad met me halfway back and said the deer was done. Said the hit looked good but must have turned up and hit the spine. Said it was broke down on the rear and had blood pouring out the front. We went to the truck to celebrate and drink a DP before going back to collect his trophy.
We make it back to the deer but the deer isn't there....What the...We start looking around and are losing light fast. We knew he couldn't make it far, so we just started walking a quick grid. Didn't take long before we called in reinforcements and flashlights. A few hours of tracking and searching made us realize that something wasn't right. Light drizzle had started, so we called in the dog man. He wanted $500 to come out
We tried to find another dog, but never did.
To say it was a restless night would be an understatement. We thought over the shot, my video of Dad approaching the animal, and replayed it over and over. We tried to come up different scenarios or theories, but nothing was sticking. So this morning, we hit the woods and started looking. We had four on the ground and Ramsey on a 4 wheeler. We set up a grid and worked out 300 yards in each direction. Once that was done, we spread and went down hill to start another grid. I sent Ramsey to start on one side of the power lines off the 4 wheeler and we ran grid on the other side. Hope was dwindling quickly.
We had two more sweeps to make and head back toward the stand when we heard Ramsey yell. We made it over to him to find that the deer wasn't dead. He had made it about 600-700 yards and his back end was still broke down. He was weak but still had some fight left in him. We were able to dispatch him.
Overall, was a memorable hunt riddled with plenty of "what-ifs" and "coulda, woulda, shoulda," but in the end, we had a great "father/son" hunt and ended up recovering the deer.