When people ask me about how my hunting season went this year, I simple reply with a shake of the head and tell them  ”I‘ve had better seasons”. From wild horses and roaming cattle to dudes on 4-wheelers and bad luck, my season was for the most part a big fat bust. Now that’s not saying it was 100% crap. I did have a couple exciting encounters with some of the bucks on my hit list, but either they didn’t offer a shot or I decided to pass.

Not A Good Start

I ran my trail cameras for most of the summer and by the time October 1st rolled around I had put together a pretty good hit list of mature shooters. I started off the season like I always do, trying to lay down a doe and put a little meet in the freezer. Easy, right?  The evening hunt of October 1st a group of does came down the edge of a fence-line like they read a script. Filming myself, I turned on the camera, picked out the doe I wanted, and smoked her at 18 yards. Perfect shot. She ran in to chest-high CRP… for those of you who have ever tried to follow a blood trail in tall CRP, not fun. I looked for about 2 hours in the dark and then decided to come back in the morning and start fresh with an extra set of eyes. One word, “Coyotes”.  If you ever have one of these “pests” within range, kill them dead!   No meat for me, I tried for a doe the next 2 weekends with no luck. I had no idea this is how the rest of the season was going to go.

Shipwreck Falls

Shipwreck in 2010, the year I shot, but didn’t kill him.  

I got my first set of trail camera pictures of Shipwreck (a buck I have been hunting for 5 years) on June 28th, knowing he was still alive gave me the motivation I needed going into the season. My plan was to stay out of his area until the right conditions were presented.

Picture of Shipwreck from June of 2011 .

But that opportunity never came, as I got a call one day while at work, telling me that a good friend Sam Collora (who hunts a neighboring property) killed Shipwreck the night before; he scored just over 200”. I was sad, happy, and pissed all at the same time.  Knowing that he was no longer in the picture I could focus on other properties.  I also could now truthfully tell my Fiancé she is the most important thing in my life! Look for another article about the Deer God Shipwreck in the near future.

This is where it starts getting good, and when I say “good” I really mean “bad”.

Megatron is a giant 6 ½ year old 8 I have seen for the past 3 years, hope he makes it. 

Aside from a lucky encounter with a buck I named Megatron (6 ½ 160” class 8 – thank God for Ozonics), on a random south wind run-and-gun set up, and another encounter with Johnny Utah (3 ½ 145” 10), that was about it. I can’t say I even saw a lot of Larry’s (small bucks), or even does for that matter. I honestly think the numbers in my particular area were down from previous years. In connection with not seeing a lot of deer, I also had to share this property with another hunter and had a perfect set ruined by some kids driving 4-wheelers. On top of that, due to down fences and gates that were left open by coon hunters, both horses and cattle had free range of the property keeping the deer out of the fields and pushing them to god knows where. This also made me mad, but not much I could do about it.

Had a couple of encounters with Johnny Utah this year and passed him twice.

One Last Chance

The very last day of my vacation I did have a hot doe come through at 2:30pm that was being chased by 4 different mature bucks, one was a 150 class 10 who did not present an opportunity, and the other was a 145 class 8 I named Edward Scissor Hands who I ended up passing in hopes that the other buck would come back through.  He did not, and after reviewing the footage I regret not shooting the 8. Oh well. Right at last light a huge 160 class 10 came through and there was some miscommunication between me and the cameraman on what direction the deer was going, yet another missed opportunity. Story of my season.

This is Triple Sec doggin’ a doe.

I passed Edward Scissor Hands… that was dumb!

The big 10 that I screwed up on. I almost jumped out of my stand.

I did get a couple more chances in December to get in the stand, but with the deer still in shock from shotgun season, I had no luck.  Overall, I did what I could. I hunted hard and put myself in a position to kill every time I went out. I observed and learned more about the properties I hunt in hopes that next year I will get another opportunity at  a mature buck. So now that the bow season is over I switch my focus to shed hunting. I have setup some trail cameras in hopes of seeing what bucks made it through the season and when I need to start my miles for piles.

There’s Always Next Year

Overall, I may not have gotten the results I wanted, but I did learn a lot and I will adapt for next season. And most importantly, I had a hell of a lot of fun and was able to spend time with some of my good friends.  I love this sport and when October comes back around you know where I’ll be.

P.S. I hate coyotes.