With the 2011 hunting season far behind us, and the 2012 openers fast approaching, I thought it might be a good idea to share another couple succesful whitetail stories to help get you ramped up leading into the fall. Today we have Mike Vicki’s story of a great Michigan hunt. Enjoy! And remember, if you work hard now – it could be you with a big buck down in a few months! – MK
I got my first glimpse of this buck on September 23, 2011 off of my trail camera. My camera was located in what I call the “finger” directly behind my home on the north end of my little 20 acres. A month later on October 21st, my other camera caught him again. The photos were taken in the middle of the night but I felt that if I was patient and if I put my time in, I may have a chance at him.
November 1st was an extremely nerve-racking hunting experience for me, and the first time I caught a glimpse of this buck in real time. I headed out my back door for an evening hunt that day in what I call the “thumb” of my property. The “thumb” is located in the center of my property about 75 yards south of the “finger”. It is the highest point of elevation on my property with a ridge that runs north from it. I was able to take my time heading for the tree stand because I was early and there was plenty of daylight remaining. I would take five or six steps and pause briefly, being very cautious not to break any large branches or make any loud noises. The southeast wind was perfect because it would carry my scent back towards my house.
I reached the base of my tree stand and slowly proceeded to the top. I got to my platform and took a good look around. I could not believe my eyes; behind me in the golden rod on the east side of the ridge was a set of bright white antlers. Only about 40 yards from my tree stand this buck was bedded down looking in the opposite direction. I slowly continued to setup by raising my bow up to me in the stand from the ground, sliping my facemask over my head and fastening my bow release. Now at 4:45, being all set-up, the waiting game began and all the possible scenarios started to run through my head. I did not know what direction he would go when he got up, and what opportunities I might have for a shot at him.
At about 5:00 the buck rose to his feet, and my heart began to pound. He took about three steps away from me, and I got very nervous because he was already out of range for me and my bow. Luckily, all he was interested in was nibbling on a briar bush. He ate a little, spun around and laid right back down. I was able to hang my bow back up and allow my heart to calm again as I watched him chew on his snack.
Only for a short time could my nerves be calm, because all of a sudden I heard a door slam, and than another. I looked to the southeast and about 100 yards away, the neighbors where getting out of their truck to go on a hunt themselves. The “hunters” gathered all there equipment from there truck and began walking north along my east boundary line. I did not know what the buck’s reaction would be so I got my bow ready again and just watched and waited. The buck did not flinch, I am guessing either he could not see them walking or maybe he just knew the smart thing to do was to stay hunkered down. The “hunters” vanished from sight and I could rest again with only my thoughts and possible evening outcomes running through my head.
The sun seemed to take an eternity to sink off to the west. It gets dark around 7ish this time of the year and it was about 6:15 when the buck finally stood up again. I got my bow ready and attempted to keep my cool. I had done everything correctly so far, now I just prayed he would come my way and I would have the opportunity to make a good shot. I was getting excited because it was happening. He was coming my way and I was going to have that chance. At this time, I noticed his left brow tine was much longer than his right and that he was the buck from the pictures. The buck got to about 15 yards away, turned broad side, and gave me my first good opportunity. I drew my bow back as he was facing away, leaned out just a little to reach around the tree trunk and…he saw me. He must have caught a glimpse of me leaning around the tree and he never hesitated. He was out of there before I could even put a sight pin on him, as all mature bucks do in a high-pressured area.
I was so mad at myself, if I had just waited for him to take a couple more steps, he would have been in another shooting lane quartering away and I would not have had to lean out to take the shot. I knew that, yet I must have lost my patience watching him as he was bedded down for so long. The buck ran south stopping once to look back unsure of what he had seen. I knew since I did not fling an arrow at him that there was a good chance he was not too spooked. Darkness came and so did my frustration. I had done everything right except when it really counted. I began beating myself up, as all deer hunters do from time to time.
The next afternoon on November 2nd, I visited my other trail camera that was located on the south edge of my 20 acres. I got very excited once again. At 5:42 AM the big eight pointer with the longer left brow tine had come back to his home territory. He evidently was not very spooked, and I had high hopes again because I still had two more tree stands on the property that he had not busted me in. The next few weeks, I selectively hunted the other spots according to the wind conditions but the remainder of bow season left me blind of him.
November 16th, the second day of firearm season, was another eventful hunt. I had to work most of the day, but when I got home, I decided to hunt the south stand just to see what might be around. I did not have very high expectations because of the windy afternoon, but something was driving me to that stand. As I stood on the platform combing the area, I caught a glimpse of white at about 5:20. Instinct kicked in and I dropped to one knee on my tree stand platform. I turned my scope up to its highest power, rested my left elbow on my left knee to steady my gun and put my crosshairs on the front shoulder of this good buck that was about 70 yards out. I squeezed the trigger very slow as I observed the buck pawing the ground to make a scrape through the scope. A gunshot rang out through the area and his head lowered as he ran fast and hard. I knew instantly it was a good shot. He only had to run about twenty yards and he was in the thicket and out of sight. I listened and I could hear him running but only for a short time, and than I heard a big crash. Big Buck Down.
I sat in the tree stand until dark unsure of what the antlers on the buck really looked like. Everything happened so fast, but what I was certain of was that he was a shooter buck. I got my flashlight out and headed to the scrape area where the buck was standing when I took my shot. There was a great blood trail and he had only gone about 45 yards total. I got to the buck and could not believe my eyes; the left brow tine was longer than the right. It was a perfect shot through his heart and I had gotten him. The buck in my photos and the one that had evaded me during bow season was going on my wall.