October 29: Sergeant First Class (ret) Joe Haynes

SITUATION: 30 October 2010, Illinois, Partly Cloudy, 37 degrees

MISSION: Seek-out and harvest an October whitetail buck with archery tackle at Hadley Creek without being detected and without mission failure

Winning the hunt at Hadley Creek was a great honor but being able to pay back a life long friend for helping out during the filming of Dream Season Celebrity…Well, now that’s priceless!

Joe and I packed up the truck and loaded up the Hunt-Ve and headed north to our home state of Illinois with high hopes. Crossing over state lines then into Pike County, Illinois are spirits flew with every anticipating moment of getting into the tree the next morning.

The first few days went well with some good sightings of quality bucks but they were just too young or just under the minimum for Hadley. Though the weather cooperated and the deer were moving it wasn’t until the last day that we had an encounter with the High Value Target (HVT) that we came looking for…a giant mature eight point stud! The wind was right, the HVT was closing, and the adrenaline running as the moment of truth was upon us. Joe drew back his PSE AXE 6 and waited for the green light to launch but unfortunately my stand popped, which stopped the buck but also put him on high alert. It was now or never so the saying goes, and the arrow left the bow in route to its target. The buck dropped over a foot and a half and spun as the arrow impacted him high and forward. What just happened….I’ve never seen a buck duck an arrow that fast! We gave the buck over 5 hours to expire before taking up the trail; however, with no blood after 400 yards, we ceased tracking. We did everything we possibly could to find that buck.  What a bummer…from the highest of highs to lowest of lows but what can you do but pick yourself up…dust yourself off…and get back in the game!

The last morning of our hunt found us sitting in an ambush site about 25 foot up on a beautiful acorn ridge just off a wheat field. The wind was calm and it was a crisp, partly cloudy morning. A few small bucks moved through just after first light but just a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. a hot doe brought mister big in for a perfect kill shot.

The doe stopped in our shooting lane at 25 yards and stared us down for over 5 minutes as the big 150 class buck stood 50 yards behind her in the thick. All we needed was for her to continue on her path as we knew the buck would follow. Finally she moved out as the buck moved in and took her spot right in the shooting lane and it was a done deal. Joe drew back, settled the pin and let the Rage tipped arrow fly into the bucks’ vitals.

Mission complete!
Until next time… waiting for helicopter extraction and follow-on orders

P.S. The buck that Joe shot the morning before was found…he couldn’t take the force of the Rage either!