By Mark Kenyon
It almost happened last night.
In my last journal entry, I mentioned how I screwed up a potential shot at a mature buck a week ago by second-guessing my initial gut instincts. Well, last night I made sure not to make the same mistake and it nearly paid off.
Up til last night, Holyfield had been a no-show all season, despite occasional pictures and a few sightings during long-distance scouting trips. So as I’ve mentioned before, my plan was to wait for later in October to try for him again. While sitting at my desk yesterday working, my gut started telling me that this “later in October” day was now.
With a 15 degree temperature drop and a high barometric pressure that was still rising, conditions looked to be promising. On top of that, one year ago today, I had an encounter with Holyfield right in the same area where I’ve been seeing him this year. And finally, when looking back on past trailcam photos from 2015, I noticed that his activity picked up significantly right around this time.
I don’t like hunting the same area over and over, and I’d hunted this core food plot system four times already, leading me to be weary of hunting it again – but I had this feeling that told me that I had to give it another shot. I had been very careful getting in and out of this stand on the previous hunts, and was led to believe that the number of deer I may have spooked on those trips was very minimal. On top of that, the sightings/intel from this year and my previous encounter here one year ago exactly was all too compelling not to try. So yesterday afternoon I snuck in as quiet and slow as I could, got set in the tree and waited.
Fast forward to about an hour before dark and I’d seen two different mature-looking bucks walking around back in the neighboring bedding area, about 300-400 yards away. 45 minutes later and I notice a couple bucks emerge from the front bedding area that Holyfield sometimes uses. It’s a 2.5 year old six pointer and the 3.5 year old 9 pointer, Frazier, that I’ve been getting a lot of pictures of. They worked across the cover in front of my food plot headed towards the cut beans and then actually started to spar. As I’m watching this, I heard a commotion to my north and I turned to see a big buck chase a doe out of the cover and into the cut bean field. It was Holyfield.
At this point he was a couple hundred yards away and just before he chased her back into the cover, I gave him a loud deep grunt. He stopped, made a scrape and then started heading my way.
To actually see what happened next, you can watch our just-released new episode of #WiredToHuntWeekly, in which I shared the video of this close encounter.
But long story short, light was fading fast, and Holyfield slowly made his way towards the food plot and several does in front of him. He turned once to apparently go back into the cover, so I snort wheezed, and that seemed to be all he needed. He crossed the creek and walked right into the Winter Greens and Whitetail Oats Plus plot I was sitting on. As I was getting positioned I knew in my head that I may not have enough time, as the end of shooting light was just about here. If he came through close though, I thought I might have just enough light to get a shot.
And then a doe bolted, he chased her, I drew back, and he ran right through my shooting lane. When he emerged into my next opening he was at least 40 yards away, and when I lined up on him I just couldn’t make out the pins well enough. I couldn’t shoot.
So I let down and watched as he pushed a couple does around in front of me – exactly like he did on the evening of October 25, 2015 – and then arranged for my wife to come pick me up on the ATV about 30 minutes later.
This morning I had a lot of work to do, so I couldn’t hunt, but I did get to check this area out from the road – and unbelievably both Frazier and Holyfield were out in the field chasing does. There is apparently an early-to-estrus doe, or one that’s very close, because it has got these boys fired up. With that said, I’ve rescheduled some appointments that were planned for this afternoon, and I’m heading back in to give it another shot. When the iron is hot, you’ve got to strike.
So here goes nothing …