After setting in the blind 71 different times (not counting the days I spent scouting), I finally managed to tag out. After setting a total of 68 times last year and having eaten a tag sand which the last two years, this was by far the longest season yet. I can’t even begin to count the number of frustrations and disappointments I experienced this year. The highs and lows of this season in particular, have been a roller coaster ride that I’ll never forget.
I started my season off in August, chasing velvet bucks up in North Dakota. The excitement of deer season itself is almost overwhelming, but a new adventure and the opportunity to shoot my first ever velvet buck, before our season even starts...... WOW!!! I was as amped up as anyone ever could be. Within the first four days, we witnessed the postponing delay of a missing deer tag, farmers cutting the alfalfa fields we were hunting and locals walking in on us during a hunt. Within 4 days of the start of our long awaited season, I was already experiencing depression. Day five brought with it a great change in momentum, as I somehow managed to shoot my first ever velvet buck and long awaited dream/goal of mine. With a week and a half left, before our Kansas season even started, I was back on top of the world again!
... and then deer season started.
It’s amazing how quickly bow hunting mature whitetails can take the air out of you, especially when you’re trying to capture it all on film, but I was bound and determined that I wasn’t gonna let a stupid deer determine my emotional state this year. Besides, the November rut was just around the corner. The rut usually holds with it a lot of good things for the bowhunter, but for me... it just meant some busted up tines on two of my shooters. :(
Depressed and feeling slightly defeated, I quickly began to look for another place to hunt. Hopefully a place where the bucks still had all their tines in tacked. There was this one spot I had been eyeballing for the last couple of years and knew that it had some big boys on it before season, so I immediately directed my attention there. After some immediate “no’s” and a couple interesting encounters with the surrounding land owners, I eventually managed to get access to one of the spots I was eyeballin, in that particular section.
Now with only 2 weeks left in the season, it seemed very unlikely that I would be able to pull it off. Especially considering that I was on a new piece of ground and still had to try and figure the deer movement out. I immediately put out a TON of Junk Food and setup a couple of trail cameras to at least start taking a little inventory and see what deer made it through the rifle season. I then spent the next 3 days scouting it out from the vehicle, seeing where and when the deer were moving and which fields they were using. After 3 days of scouting, I then decided to setup a blind in one spot and a treestand in another. I knew there were a couple of what I would call “monsters” in this section (170” plus), but considering that I had eaten a tag sand which the last two years and considering that I only had a week and a half to get it done, I had full intentions to shoot the first mid 130’s to 140’s that walked out.
As it seems to be my life story, I would find myself in one spot and inevitably the bucks would show up at the other spot. Trail cameras are an EXTREMELY valuable tool when it comes to hunting, but they can also be and extremely depressing tool, when they show you what you missed out on while you were hunting the other spot or for some reason chose to stay at home that day. Sure enough the second to last day of season, according to the trail cameras, I apparently had set in the wrong spot that night. :/ But having the new found information of that SD card, I was almost certain that I was gonna tag out in my ground blind, on the final day.
I set in the blind that morning and saw 8 different does, but no bucks. I came home for a quick snack, waited for my dad to finish his duck hunt and we were back in the blind by noon. The only thing NOT in our favor was the wind. It was a little windier than I would like and the direction of the wind wasn’t ideal by any means, but it’s the last day of the season and nows the time, if ever, to take the risk. We sprayed down like nobody’s business, ScentBlocker’d up and even sprayed the inside of the blind down every 30 minutes. Considering that 7 different bucks had visited it the day before, starting at noon to 5:30 p.m. (all in broad daylight), I almost KNEW for a fact that we were gonna shoot one.
The wind was still blowing 20 miles an hour and after 4:20 rolled around, without having seen a deer, I started to think that it wasn’t gonna happen. It was still just too windy for the deer to move. Sure enough, the wind slowly started to calm down by 4:40. I kept looking up to the north (completely down wind of us), where I knew they were coming from and sure enough at about 5:10, here came one of the 7 bucks from the previous day, walking right to the Junk Food pile, like he was on a string.
It’s the last day of season with only 20 minutes left, my gas tank is empty and my bank account is reading zero. I’ve put ALL my time, money and effort into this one moment. The culmination of my deer season comes down to a few seconds of glory, as I began to draw my bow down. I ask my dad if he’s good behind the camera and upon the 3rd “year, I’m good”, I released my arrow. I see the Tracer Nock disappear right behind his shoulder. My gas tank was empty (literally), my bank account was in the single digits and I was emotionally bankrupt, due to an exausing, depressing deer season, but that moment when I KNEW I had made a great shot, was the moment my life was flipped upside down. Having had the most draining and exhausting season yet, I was immediately back on top of the world. I’ve heard it said that deer hunting is 99% self inflicted misery, boredom and discomfort and 1% pure mind blowing, unimaginable, soul satisfying, joy. That is about as true as it gets and that 1% of joy is worth every second of the 99% of misery... and THAT’s why I deer hunt! So while everything else in my life appeared empty (bank account, gas tank, emotions), as they very much were, upon the release of that arrow, my life was as full as it could be. Thank GOD for giving me the opportunity to hunt these amazing creatures!!!