After two long encounter filled seasons without getting it done, I was cautiously optimistic heading in to my 2012 bow season. I knew of three mature bucks that had survived through last winter and was seeing them regularly all Summer through my spotting scope and Reconyx cameras. I have had lots of history and encounters with all three and was pretty excited to get things started. That being said everyone that hunts mature deer knows that once the velvet comes off they become completely different animals. September arrived and two of my three regulars completely disappeared leaving me a bit concerned that they had changed residency or worse EHD may have struck. Time may tell which is the case but for me the only thing I could do was focus on the one that was left.
Crabby Ten was a buck I knew well. I had picked up sheds from him and had multiple encounters over the last two seasons and knew his core area was centered on my eighty acre lease. To make things better I was getting daylight pics out on the field edges. This made me feel I had a decent oportunity to kill him before the lull kicked in.
October arrived and a major cold front was about to settle in. Bill and I made plans to get together on Saturday the sixth for AM & PM hunts but as happens too often, work got in the way. I had to prep a milking parlor for concrete the following Monday and Bill had grain storage to worry about so our morning hunt was a wash. By 1:30 I had finished my project and was chomping at the bit to get in a tree. Bill on the other hand couldn't make it out. Rather than sit out a major cold front and possibly miss out on an opportunity at Crabby I made a decision to try and video myself on the hunt. Knowing that he had made it past two of my field edge cameras at first and last light I felt the best chance to catch hin on his feet was to venture in closer to his bedroom for an evening hunt. I arrived at my lease by 3:30 and planned to cautiously sneak my way along steep bluff to avoid exposing myself to the main part of the timber. Nearly an hour later I arrived at my set without spooking a single deer. After climbing up and strapping in I immediately started seeing deer, most of which were passing through my shooting lane within thirty yards. By 5:45 seven does and two bucks had passed my stand when I heard a deer walking directly behind me along the bluff which I had followed in. It was also directly down wind of where I sat. I slowly stood and swung my camera to get ready in case a buck was with them. As I filmed the two does walk to the base of my tree a spotted a larger deer coming over the ridge. When he stepped in to view I immediately recognized him as the buck I came in to kill. My heart went in to double time as he stood just twenty yards away but I had no shot opportunity so I focused on filming him. Suddenly one of the does decided that she didn't like the smell of my climbing stick and trotted back towards where she had come from. Her concern was short lived and she began walking towards my shooting lane. Crabby was a bit nervous and watched as the two does walked directly out in front of my stand. I was concerned he would drop back over the ridge when he suddenly spun and began to follw the does. I went in to panick mode and swung the camera to my only shooting lane,zoomed in as far as I dared and prepared for the shot. I drew back as he entered my viewfinder and stopped him center frame at thirty yards....and rushed the shot, dropping my bow arm. Disgusted as he bolted up the ridge I said a few choice words to myself and stopped the camera. After bow hunting for more than twenty years I would like to think that buck fever is just something that affects only novice hunters and that I have full control of my emotions in the moment of truth. Truth is I don't posses "ice water in my viens" like so many of the other DOD subcontractors. These "gifts from the gods" don't show themselves all that often to me and I guess I just got shook up a bit when it happened. As I stood there contemplating on climbing down I heard walking in the direction my dream buck had just run. I scanned the woods and caught movement of a deer slowly heading my direction. I flipped the camera back on and spotted Crabby standing just fory yards away staring directly towards my stand. Not believing it would actually work out I grabbed another arrow and started recording anyway. Slowly he walked stifflegged directly to my tree. When he hit twenty yards I picked the lane he might enter and locked the camera on where I felt he would end up. I clipped on and drew as he walked closer. At 15 yards I looked at the viewfinder and saw him enter from the right. He took a few more steps and turned broadside at ten yards. I don't remember touching the trigger but saw the Carbon Force arrow bury itself through the left shoulder. Instantly I knew that he wouldn't go far. I swung the camera on him as he went on a death run and piled up just out of sight. After the shot I took a minute to catch my composure and rewound the tape to make sure that I actually caught it on camera. I then got on the phone and called my wife, Bill, Malik and a few others to tell the good news. Bill was a little upset that I killed without him but excited at the same time. He, and his daughter Corine along with Daltyn came out to help me with the recovery. It felt good to finally, after two hard bow seasons wrap my IA tag around a giant 5-1/2 year old buck that I had so much history with. Now it's time to jump in the tree with my son and Bill, camera in hand to see if this incredible start to my 2012 season will continue. Hopefully you will see a little more of Bill and Dave before the end of the year.