During the 2010 Wisconsin whitetail season, I had two experiences that will stick with me for the rest of my life. After about four years of being skunked on my buck tags, this year I ended the depression by bagging two unbelievable bucks. I harvested one of the bucks, and also a bonus doe, during the bow season and the other buck during the gun season. This year was the first year I have ever filled all of my tags over the full deer season and I could not ask for better deer. I put so much time and effort into the woods this year and in the past years, so I am proud to have stepped out of the woods with the deer I got.
As the bow season approached this year, my brother Josh and I were overflowing with excitement. After a disappointing season in 2009, we were ready to do whatever it took to redeem ourselves and show our friends that we mean business. We scouted the deer in our area all summer to know what we were up against. We put out trail cameras, reassured permission on our key hunting properties, and we shot our bows every week to make sure we were ready for a rare opportunity to drop a big, mature buck.
Once the season was underway, we decided to start the year off by taking the first opportunity to harvest a doe. On the second day of the season, two does came by my stand. One doe gave me a quality shot at fifteen yards and I couldn’t pass her up. I shot her and Josh captured it all on film. We were very satisfied with the doe kill because we used the experience as a confidence builder for the season.
As the rest of the season continued, Josh and I went on thirteen hunts straight without seeing a deer. We greatly appreciated the company of squirrels, coons, and even an owl throughout this time, which seemed to us like a drought of whitetails. We know what it takes to get nice deer though, so we kept going to the stand. On the fourteenth hunt we finally broke our bad luck; we saw a doe and its fawns. For the next couple hunts that is all we seemed to see. We finally started seeing bucks in late October, when we saw three does and a decent eleven point buck that we captured on our trail camera all summer. We passed on the young deer because we knew he would be a beautiful buck in the future years and he was just a little small for my liking.
The first week in November was an incredible week. We saw a big eight point Thursday night out of our blind and Friday night we saw a silhouette of a buck with about a twenty-four inch inside spread in a different spot. On Saturday morning we went out to the stand that I had shot my doe out of earlier in the season. We didn’t see much of anything until about two hours into the hunt, when Josh notified me that a huge buck was cruising up the fence line to the north. We couldn’t tell exactly how big he was, but he had to score right over one-hundred and fifty inches. The deer kept trotting to the west even after I grunted at him so we thought he might be on the scent trail of a hot doe. Saturday night was a little slower than the last five hunts, but we still saw a nub buck and some does in the distance. Our plans for Sunday consisted of going to the same stand as Saturday morning. Right away in the morning we heard a lot brush cracking and a deer grunting to our south in some thick pines. Our excitement grew as we tried every trick in our book to get the deer to come in. All we could do is call small bucks out to our stand though! The noise continued as I told Josh that I knew the deer making all the noise was a mature buck. Three years prior, I heard the same type of movement in the same pine trees and the noise was coming from two different bucks that scored over one-hundred and sixty inches. After waiting for about four hours, we finally decided that we would get down and stalk the deer that was in the pines. It was about 11:00 am and the deer was being uncooperative. We ended up getting within range of the deer, but he was on a dead run chasing a hot doe that was being followed too close by another little buck. The buck was a tall eight point that we captured on our trail camera during the summer. The deer ran off, so we decided that it would be smart to leave the deer to their fun and not pressure them with a couple weeks still left in the season. That night we went out to a new property that we just put stands up at. We saw a couple deer and we had another close encounter with some bucks that we couldn’t identify due to the lighting.
Josh and I had to go to school on Sunday night after our hunt. With the awesome luck we had just had during the week end, I was determined to hit up the woods on Monday after my classes. After spraying my clothes with H.S scent-a-way scent eliminator, I headed out to the woods with my camera, tripod, and bow. I decided that I would sit on the ground near our ground blind. I didn’t want to sit in the blind because I find that it restricts my movement and makes it tougher to hunt and film at the same time. After a couple minutes, I found a nice tree with some decent cover. The tree was located right at the outskirts of a beautiful opening that had a nice deer trail moving through it. I cleared the leaves from the base of my tree and I set up the camera and the rest of my equipment. I laughed at the fact that I was being noisy because there were at least ten squirrels all around my location. I thought that I’d at least get some great squirrel action throughout the evening.
As time progressed, I seemed to be only calling in squirrels. With fifteen minutes left of camera light, I told the camera that something was going to happen soon. It seemed like only five minutes when I looked to the east to see a nice buck walking directly south at sixty yards on a leaf-less four-wheeler trail. My heart stopped at the sight of the deer and I told myself that I couldn’t let this deer be another one that got away. I grabbed my Primos Buck Roar grunt call and let out a loud grunt. The deer stopped and looked right at me. As the grunt call stayed at my lips I thought, “Does he see me? Oh no! Am I caught or what?!” It seemed like a minute before he put his head back down to continue his stroll to the south. I quickly blew into the grunt call again and he, once again, looked directly at me. He was scanning my area so intently, I was sure he would see me. I knew I had to stay as still as possible; else he would immediately catch my figure and take off. Once again it seemed like minutes had past, when he finally put his head down again and continued walking south. The deer was now at seventy yards and getting farther. I knew I had to try something else, so I quickly reached in my pocket for my Primos Original Can doe bleat call. I tipped the can over and immediately after the buck’s head sprang up to, yet again, look my way. This time he put his head down right away and kept walking, so I called again. He looked over again as if he was just picking on me. He put his head down and went out of sight.
As a final creative effort, I tipped over the can twice and grunted as I rustled the leaves outside of my dirt patch. I was trying to simulate the noises of a buck chasing a doe through the woods. The buck was just out of sight, so I had no clue what he was up to at this point. The sounds I made in the leaves must have been what did it; not even five seconds after I stopped calling I heard leaves crunching where the buck disappeared. I knew that the crunching of the leaves meant that he was now off the trail and walking through the woods on my side of the trail. I waited intently for his impressive rack to show itself through the trees. I finally saw him walking west about sixty yards to the south of my tree. He slowly angled more and more towards me as I got more and more excited. I knew I had to get some footage of the deer, so I turned to the camera and pressed the record button. When the deer’s head was behind the tree, so I quickly faced the camera towards the area I thought the deer would walk and turned back around. The tension was getting more intense as the deer walked closer to the opening I had hoped the deer would come into. I wanted to pinch myself to see if I fell asleep on accident at the base of my tree. But I knew that the situation was too cool to be a dream. The buck stopped at twenty yards on the other side of my tree my where I was standing. I wondered if he saw my Rage broadhead shaking up and down as it stuck out from the barrier between me and the deer. He pressed forward after about thirty seconds and was right outside of my opening. I knew that I had to pull back while he couldn’t see me, so I pulled back and was cautious to not make any bit of noise. He finally appeared from around the tree and I knew I had to take him as soon as he was completely broadside. I made an abrupt bleat sound with my mouth and the buck’s body froze as if he knew he was in trouble. The buck’s rack rotated and I felt his eyes upon me. I knew I had to take my time and make the cleanest shot, so I breathed deep and rested my sights right in his lung area. I pulled my release trigger and watched the arrow fly in semi-slow motion as it punched through his skin like a knife going through butter. The deer jolted off with his tail down. I immediately reached for the camera and my phone. I watched the deer stumble and bellow around as I called Josh and released the camera from the tripod to get a better view. I was filled with joy to see that I had not only shot a nice buck off the ground with my bow, but I did it all perfect from start to finish. I left the woods about twenty minutes from the time of arrow flight. I knew the deer was dead, but I had to get some help with filming and dragging.
After a long two hour wait, it was time to go find my deer. My Dad and two of my close friends wanted to help, so they got to share what was left of the experience with me. I couldn’t even sit down over the two hour wait because of the adrenaline high. I was so excited after the difficult two hour wait at the truck; I wanted to run out to the deer. We walked back to tree where I let the arrow fly and I pointed out to the guys where the deer ran after I hit him. We looked for blood for about ten minutes and then decided that the little blood we were finding was making the situation difficult. I pointed to where the deer was stumbling around and we immediately found him! The arrow went into his vitals, but ended up back in his guts. Upon entrance the arrow ricocheted off one of the deer’s ribs. The broadhead-end of the arrow passed through the deer completely, but his back leg snapped the back-end of the arrow off and it remained in his body.
I couldn’t believe his mass and his tine length! The deer’s G4 and main beam tip are broke off, so he was definitely being a bully during the rut. The deer weighed 201 pounds and he green scored at 135inches (gross) and 126 inches (net). His bases are five inches around and he has a fifteen and a half inch inside spread. His G2’s measure at ten inches and his g3’s are eight inches. I later found out that the only antler I found last spring shed hunting had belonged to this deer! We were almost freaked out how everything came together with this buck. After reviewing the footage, I didn’t get one glimpse at the deer on camera. When the buck came in I didn’t realize that the camera was zoomed in a little bit, so I only got audio of the hunt. I know the neighbor’s got trail camera pictures of him, so I am working on getting them from him.
For the last two weeks of the bow season, Josh and I hit up the woods very hard. Things didn’t quite come together for him, but all we can say is that there is late season to look forward to still. My brother had some close encounters while up in the stand during the bow season and it is a shame that we couldn’t get another buck. I, regretfully, can say that I unwillingly messed up one of his chances at a beast of a buck. As a cameraman, it is hard to just mess up someone’s hunt and then just forget about it. I am willing to do whatever it takes for Josh during the late season and I will be surprised if we do not get a deer. Especially because we just got about 15 inches of snow! The deer will be moving to food sources on heavy trails.