What a season!! I loved this season and completely enjoyed it as much as any season...one of the best! It sure was a different season though. Last year we had 11 bucks shot in and around our property including two 2 year olds, 2 three year olds...and then the remaining 7 bucks that we lost were between 4 and 8 years of age. We had pictures of every single one of those 11 bucks, and some we had been watching for as many as 5 seasons!
There is much more to the story in terms of the "hows" and "whys" of both the season and the hunt,
but I basically had to wait for this buck to move out of his core area during the middle of the rut, and hope that I could catch him when he did. 7 times I passed on bucks in the 125 to 140s range, including at least one 4 year old.
*There were plenty of "middle-aged" bucks to pass!
During almost 2 months I was able to chip around at various portions of the property by hunting 15 different stand locations a total of 30 times. It was so cool to get to know almost all of our local crop of bucks for next year...but boy, we took a hit on our normal collection of shooters last year and the season of 2013 was lean to say the least. During those 30 sits I averaged over a 1/2 hour walk in and out each time, and used 4 different approaches and departures with friends sometimes picking me up after my hunt a 2 mile walk from my truck. I hunted more this year during archery season...than the previous 2 seasons combined for ALL seasons, for 3 different states.
I had my chances on the local property bucks, while being able to observe from above without being seen, smelled or heard. I felt sometimes like a part of the property itself, and I love both blending into the woods as well as getting in and out without being detected. BUT...the more pictures we took, and the more the sign showed up as the season progressed, I knew that we just didn't have the age class of bucks that we typically observe. I started hunting the edges of the parcel within exterior funnels that serve to move deer naturally on and off of the property; while waiting for certain bucks to show up from various areas that they were living in from around the neighborhood.
As on sat in my stand during the evening of November 7th, I was watching a natural corridor that provided an evening movement out of a very remote bedding area that my neighbor and I share. I was hoping to see the big 13 point that night! About an hour before dark, sure enough...he exited from a thicket below and took about 2 minutes to navigate the rubs and scrapes on his way to my stand location. I believe he was going to travel through the staging area in front of me before filtering through a CRP field on his way to a Northwoods Whitetail Fall blend...but we will never know! He traveled to a little under 30 yards and I let the arrow fly.
This was one of our neighborhood "target bucks". When I set the stand for him a couple weeks ago my neighbor 2 parcels away knew what buck I was hoping for because he is a close friend of mine, and he was the one who had been getting dozens of pictures of him the weeks prior to when I shot him. During the summer my neighbor and I watched this buck several times from the truck, and my son Jake had been dreaming about this buck since August! Jake and I shared a very memorable evening in August together as we watched my buck feed against the sky on the top of a ridge less than 60 yards away, as the sun set. We had a handful of pictures of this buck ourselves last year and in the end, being very patient during the season combined with having a nice dose of luck- paid off big time!
My neighbor and close friend helped me track him and get him out of the woods. Thanks Colin!