I had not seen but two mature bucks this season. One opening morning, and I passed him, that was killed by another member that evening. Beautiful wide nine point that was 7 or 8 years old. The other was a management eight that I hadn't seen since September and it was taken by that same other lease member. Just to be fair and honest he is a great guy and knows the deer on the lease well and shoots appropriately. Me, well I have a tendency to hesitate.
I didn't have near as much time to hunt this season due to family and medical issues. Not to mention going back to work so I tried to focus more on enjoying the time there and took what was offered. A nice management eight,
A doe and several pigs. However I didn't even have any pics of mature bucks and even doe pics were after hours only. It seemed my numbers of deer were down this season and probably mostly due to warmer temps, plenty of rain and lots of good green growth for them to feed on and keep them healthy. Regardless I felt like I was having a more relaxed and enjoyable season.
Work got slow and I told my helper he would be off between Christmas and New Years to enjoy his family and I went to the lease. Even though my hands are extremely sore from the surgeries I could still manage a few accurate shots on target so the hunt was on. Arriving late Sunday evening I set up camp and got rest for the morning hunt which was disappointing to say the least. Slow movement and small bucks only. However Monday evening was quite active. I had the right wind to sit at my feeder with no pen and I was in a quad-pod 8' off the ground when a nice mature ten point I had previously not seen walked in and fed. Huge body but the rack was mid 120s at best and I felt that with another year and a good growing season he could make 140 when he is six years old next fall. So as a friend came into camp and we ate dinner I questioned my decision. Tuesday morning was slow as well and that proved to be a pattern all week. However the wind changed and I decided to sit my primary set up and saw several little deer and a nice four year old ten that will be nice in a couple of seasons. Then, as the sun was setting I looked over my shoulder, and there was a wide, really wide buck. He never went to the feeder but walked up within 15 yards and offered a broadside shot. I was trying to decide if he was old enough and by the time I decided to shoot him he decided it was time to wander off and I was left a second night to question my decision.
After a slow Wednesday morning hunt I got around to looking at camera cards and found the wide buck had spent a lot of time the evening before at my other feeder and had twice visited my set up in December. Also the pics revealed he was indeed mature and if I got an op, which I doubted, I would probably take him.
And then, for the next three hunts, nothing.
New years eve was here and I had to fill a protein feeder on the way to stand. The wind was back around, although weakly, so I could set my secondary set up and I got there early dumping a gallon of protein on the ground in front of the feeder. I climbed up in the stand and sat waiting for the feeder to throw at 4:15. At 3:45 I got a text from my wife to call her so I climbed down from the tripod and snuck out to the road where I spent 15 minutes on a conference call. Hurrying back to stand, knowing it would go off in 10 minutes, I spied a couple of bucks already eating the protein I had put out. One was the wide buck from Tuesday. I was devastated. Knowing if I spooked them off I wouldn't see him again, but knowing the wind was wrong to sit my other set up I made the decision to spook them off and hope against hope. So I slung a couple of rocks up through the trees and they looked in that direction and ran off to the north. I climbed into my stand dejected, believing I had blown my chance. A quick 5 minutes later the feeder went off and the small bucks trickled in and were chowing down without a clue. At 4:25 I see a wide buck coming through the oaks and couldn't believe he had returned. However he was nervous and not presenting a shot. Then the feeder went off for the second spin at 4:30 and he ran off again. Five minutes later he was back. Came in broadside at 25 yards. Buck fever gripped me and I had all I could do to hold the 20 yard pin half way up the crease in his shoulder and focus on sight picture, trigger squeeze and follow through but when the arrow hit him it was spot on. He jumped and mule kicked, turned and mule kicked again, dislodging the arrow, and was gone. No crash, no drop and flop, just the sounds of his and the other five or six little bucks hooves stampeding away. In my mind I questioned why half my arrow was only half way in the deer. But the placement was good so I immediately grabbed my quiver and climbed down still shaking so bad I almost fell. At the feeder I found the arrow on the ground nocturnal glowing and this . . .
Twenty yards away along a stream of blood I found this . . .
And twenty yards further past I could see this . . .
The arrow had gone through his heart and out into the leg bone on the opposite shoulder which stopped the penetration. This buck is my personal best archery deer and my widest deer overall at 21 3/8" inside. Although I ended the season with two unfilled doe tags I would say it turned out pretty well.