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To say my season has been somewhat of a long drawn out saga would be an understatement.  Just ask my wife!  Going in to this season with dad's farm getting hit really hard with EHD in Northern Missouri, I knew I had to finally make things count on my lease north of St. Louis.  Up to this point it has been my proving grounds....that I couldn't prove anything on!  Well this year was sink or swim.  I had no other viable options.  So I took all the experiences and knowledge from the last few years hunting there and went to work making a game plan.  

There was pretty bad flooding this summer from the Mississippi river so I had quite a few bucks on my lease in velvet for the first time in a few years.  I knew they wouldn't all stick around once they shed, but I was hopeful a few would.  One specifically I called 2 Short, who we did know from the past season and had a shed too.  He would be a 6 1/2 year old.  When the pictures started rolling in I thought one deer specifically was him, based on a short G2 on his left side.  As the weeks rolled on, I quickly figured out I was incorrect and 2 Short actually blew pretty good and this other deer was an imposter!  So I called him 2S2 (2 Short the 2nd).  I know, I'm terrible at naming deer! 

As summer ended and the season started 3 of the bucks I was hopeful to see in person stuck around on camera.  2 Short (who was inconsistent to say the least), 2S2 and another buck we called Splitz (who I ended up shooting during the Rut with my PSE).  September was super hot so we only hunted 1 time.  Then turn the page to October and we saw 2S2 six times I believe.  Once on October 6th at 30 yards (3rd encounter with him)...and the story should have ended right then.  Mishap in the blind, camera on my bow hits the window when I come to full draw and off 2S2 goes!  That's also when he got a lot smarter then me and when the game of cat and mouse started.  He knew I was there now.  I no longer had the element of suprise in that blind and on that Biologic Radish field.  

After that it was a chess match where he was playing chess and I was playing checkers.  He was always a step ahead of me.  We hung new sets, popped up blinds, moved blinds...didn't matter.  He was always a step ahead.  And just out of my effective bow range.  

Turn the page to November and I never saw him once.  Except on opening day of the Missouri Firearm season on my Reconyx camera...in front of my blind....that I decided not to sit in because I hadn't been seeing any bucks on that camera.  Other then that, we had a slow gun season to say the least.  

On to December!  Checked my cameras and in the first few days of December he showed back up!  He was missing his brow tine, but I could care less!  That same night we saw him come out at 50 yards at last light and work away from us.  I had hope for the first time in a month.  He made it through gun season and he seemed to be back on a pattern.  We ended up encountering him 2 or 3 times in December, but I took a decent break during the Christmas holiday.  After that ended I was back at it around the end of December and we started seeing him again..at a distance, but we were seeing him.  

I had paid the farmer on my lease to leave me an acre or two of standing beans in front of this Muddy Soft Side blind I had sitting there all season.  The deer were comfortable with it being there.  It was good for a West wind and okay for a NorthWest wind (which we get a ton of up there it seems).  So as the late season continued on, we sat that blind a lot more.  We weren't getting the cold temps we needed to drive the deer to it except for a few mini cold fronts here and there.  

The last few days it warmed up into the 50's so we set up a ground blind on the other end of the field to work for a southerly wind.  On this particular night we were just going in to sit that Muddy Soft Side on the beans and observe that ground blind across the field and see if 2S2 walked in front of it again and how he would react.  The next afternoon we were going to go back in and bring my Son Cameron with us so I wanted to make sure everything would be good to go.  The night was really slow and as fate would have it a beautiful young 10 pointer that I had been passing walked around the bend and fed into the beans with about 10 minutes left in the hunt.  As fate would have it, here came 2S2 following him about 5 minutes later and as soon as I threw my Leupold's up I knew it was him through the trees.  "Shooter"..."It's him, 2S2!".  Heart started pounding, would this be the night, would something go wrong?!  He fed to the edge of those standing beans, got to 80 yards and presented me with that broadside shot I hoped for since October 6th!  This time, I had a Tradition's Muzz in hand and the extended range I needed to even the playing field!  Squeezed the trigger...BOOM!  "Did he drop?!" Smoke filled our blind and I never saw him leave the field...but Scott (cameraman extroidinaire) was on him and he was running hard off the field to our left.  Right as he went over the top of the field edge I could see his antlers starting to wobble.  I felt like the shot was solid and he was going to be dead on the other side of that hump!

We watched the footage, but coudln't really tell because of the smoke.  I felt good about it though.  So we slowly got out of the blind and worked our way over to the last place we saw him.  Wasn't long we found him just inside the timber's edge and belly up.  The long saga with 2S2 had finally come to an end!  It was a gratifying feeling to say the least.  I think we counted up 10 or 11 encounters with him this season.  A 5 1/2 year old warrior.  I felt like I finally did it...I finally devised a game plan, worked it all season and succeeded on my own.  Wish we could have got it done on October 6th, but I wouldn't have learned nearly as much.  

Side note, my son Cameron wasn't overly happy with me that I succeeded without him.  We had planned to do this together the very next hunt so he was pretty heart broken.  But we pulled the deer out of a freind's cooler the next day and got to spend the morning taking pics and doing the work that comes with killing a deer...together.  It was a great day together and although he still hasn't "forgiven" me, I think he had a blast doing boy stuff all day with dad :)   Who wouldn't like riding around on a Can Am! 

Have to thank a few people that worked just as hard as I did for this to happen.  My wife Miranda first of all.  It's not easy to be home at dinner, bed and bath time (after working all day) with a 5 and 3 year old as many of you know...but she's the people's champ!  I missed out on quite a few evenings at home this season with my family and I appreciate them more than they know!  Have to also thank all the guys over the past few years that have helped me plot and plan at the lease and my camera man Scott Heminger who stuck it out all season long!  We finally did it guys! :)   -Matt