Guys, I figured with the season winding down I'd share a funny story.
If you've hunted long no doubt you've experienced "the call" while settled in the stand. Here's a story from when it hit me earlier this season. But, things still worked out as you'll see below.
Saturday, November 23rd started out frosty and cold. The temp was right around 27. My hunting buddy and I were excited as we got up and discovered a ranch coated in frost. Made my way up to my favorite stand, laid down a good corn trail in the "kill box" and up on a nice nearby bench with the buggy. I was settled early, and enjoyed the cold stillness. A few coyotes provided a pre-dawn serenade, and things could not get much better.
At literal first light, I observed a deer about 40 yards to my East chomping on some corn. I slowly maneuvered the rifle and took a look. He appeared to be a 7-pt buck, but he sure looked like he was still in velvet! (Hypo Gonadism buck). I looked him over for a long time, and even went safety-off, but the light was so low that I could not be 100% sure he was indeed a Hypo-G. He soon moved off to the East, and that was that. Soon after I felt a faint disruption down in the bowels, but tried to suppress it
The sun eventually made its way up, revealing a spectacular silver landscape. Everything was covered in frosty brilliance. I did not have to wait long before a doe came out from the NE and she had a trailer. A mature 8-pt buck was following her. I looked him over for a while. He was nothing special antler wise, just a typical 8. But, he was very mature with a thick body and a roman nose. As it was my last trip where I’d be able to take bucks I decided to take him if given the opportunity. One problem: my “faint disruption” was now a full-on “gotta go.” The urging was cranking along pretty good. I was doing my best R. Lee Ermey impression, telling myself to stow that stuff and suck it up Buttercup. I was losing that fight.
Meanwhile, the doe and buck weaved their way through the brush and eventually made their way into the kill box corn. Old Mr. Buck was pretty savvy, and set up near the brush line, facing me head on. I had at first thought he was a different mature buck I'd watched Opening Weekend, but soon realized he was different based on his brows. I did not have a good shot angle so I just watched them and took a couple pics.
About this time, another young buck and doe came barreling in from the East and ran all over the valley at high speed. That was fun to watch. She was having none of it, but he was giving it all he had. I continued to argue with Mr. Poo, but things were getting serious. I could not believe this was happening. Here I was, staring at a mature buck and all I could think about was taking a crap! Not to mention, I had a whole lot of layers on due to the cold. It would not be a quick dress-down. Finally, after 20 mins or so, I must have been getting exasperated and puffed out some steam from my breath. The doe picked up on it, and decided something wasn’t right. They trotted off to the North, and I said a very relieved Kramer-esque “Thank. You!” I then bailed out of the blind, fire-manned the ladder, took off the 5 layers of clothes, and took care of the business that was the angry Mr. Poo.
Much relieved, I climbed back in the stand. I was half-convinced that I would not see a damn thing moving forward, but the wind was in my favor. About 20 mins later a beautiful young 8-pt came walking down the bench. He was lit up in the morning sun, with all the white markings on his face practically glowing white. Although he was young, he was already sporting a nice dark rack. I enjoyed taking a few pictures of him as he slowly worked my way. But, he eventually got to within ~40 yards of the jalepeno popper tamale bomb and said “Awww hell no!” He practically turned inside out as he headed West at high speed. Oh well, that was cool.
I resumed just enjoying the morning when wayyyy out to the NE I see a doe pop through a small pocket in the brush. I get the glass up on her, expecting a trailer. Soon enough, a mature buck fills that gap. I could not tell much about him, except that it was a different buck from earlier that morning and that he was good. But, just as quickly they were gone. It took probably another 20 mins before she again emerged from the brush, this time to the NW. She popped out down the creek draw about 180 yards out. It took a while, but soon he did too. I was already in the rifle. Like many truly-mature bucks I’ve watched over the years, he had a totally different demeanor with the does. There was no running and chasing. He just strolled along slowly. He knew he was a stud. He knew there was no other buck out there that could challenge him for breeding rights. And, he was smart. He moved out a little, but then stopped in a white brush patch about 160 yds out and stood there for several minutes, just looking around. Practically his whole body was concealed. I needed him to take two more steps.
After a long couple minutes, the doe was getting a ways out and he had to move. He took a couple steps and gave me a small window on the vitals triangle. I took the shot and he was hit hard. To my surprise they both ran slowly up the bench, closer to me. He was moving slow, but when he paused I hammered him again. He stepped behind some brush and did not come back out. I saw the doe run off but he never emerged. I took some time to pack up my gear, walk up the hill to the buggy, then cruised over. As soon as I walked up the bench I saw him lying there, just behind some brush, with a very funny hoof-over-face pose.
Both bullets had found their mark. I said a prayer of thanks, filled out the tag, and took a few minutes to admire him. I texted my buddy to let him know "buck down". He offered to come help me load. I told him to take his time. With the cold morning we needn’t hurry. I did at one point make a half-hearted attempt to load him myself, but his weight soon convinced me that I would indeed wait for Dave. As he walked up his excitement was contagious and we shared some smiles and hi-fives. Loaded him up, and headed for the house.
Age: ~7.5 yo
Live Weight: 173.8 lb
Dressed Weight: 131.6 lb
Inside Spread: 16 3/4”
Bases: 3 ¾”
Beams: 19 ½”
He's easily the biggest-bodied Hill Co deer I've taken. And, it's a hunt I'll definitely never forget!
Here's how the Euro turned out: