I didn’t understand why, but here I was in the dark and totally disoriented. Nothing seemed right, yet I knew I was in the vicinity of my favorite tree. A little up, a little over, still nothing registered in my gray matter, and not wanting to bugger up the area, I went up the nearest tree and figured I’d take my chances. I had missed a tree I’ve hunted out of for years; A tree I’ve seen dozens and dozens of bucks from, 18 different in one morning alone; A tree I’ve shot consecutive opening day 8 pointers out of in ’08 & ’09; A tree that I had sat in just two days prior. Yet, somehow, I missed it in the dark, and here I was sitting 20′ feet up in who knows where. Even in the dark, I could hear deer moving all around. In suburban hunting, everything is about low impact. You are hunting in neighborhoods, on very small patches of land. Climbing stands are the perch of choice, leaving no permanent reminders of our sport to “upset” the tree huggers living next door to the wonderful people who have given you permission to hunt on their land. It’s not about legal rights, we can, by right, put up permanent stands; it’s about respect and tolerance when hunting in such tight quarters. The rewards are huge, and there are 150″ class bucks and better roaming the commuter town sub-divisions of the greater New York City area.
As the heavily overcast sky gave way to shooting light, I watched a doe feed 10 yards from me. As I could see better, I realized I was about 75 yards to the east of my intended destination. Not a bad spot, but not the best. A steady parade of does and fawns moved all around me, and there was never a time that there wasn’t some deer in sight. Soon deer started to run here and there, and I heard the distinctive sound of a grunting, chasing buck. When I finally saw the cause of this entire ruckus in my Swarovski’s, I saw a buck I have seen for the past three years. He had grown a nice, much bigger, 3 point rack on the left, with still no eye guard, and his right deformity was a bigger jumbled mass, like someone wrung it out to dry as velvet and then it hardened. With eye guards and a matching right rack, we’re talking 125 class here. I watched helplessly as he herded does under my desired tree three different times in two hours. He is a deer that I wanted to shoot last year, and he was even more freakishly desirable this year! A spike wandered under my regular tree and here he came charging at him like a linebacker on a wide receiver. I tried grunting, and even a little rattle sequence. He paid no attention to me at all.
I had to leave early, as my hunting partner had to get his daughter to the dentist. It had been a fun morning, having seen the mad dashes of the buck, and having had a steady parade of does under my stand. As I was packing up, another deer stepped out where several does had been hanging all morning. I looked through the binocs expecting to see another doe, but the 10″ G2 and main beam tips that almost touched set my heart a-pumping. Up was up a little rise about eye level with me at about 100 yards. I immediately started to fish my release aide out of my pocket and get it on, fully expecting my movements to bust me at any second. Instead the buck started to wander up the hill and out of my life until he cut the trail of a doe that had wandered by my stand 20 minutes earlier. Like my dearly departed lab on a pheasant, the buck turned on a dime and followed the same path as the doe. Another mistake I had made this morning was leaving my range finder home, knowing by heart all the distances around my normal stand. Guessing 35 yards as he passed into my chosen shooting lane, I released and shot a tad high, dropping him in his tracks with a upper lung shot that nicked the spine.
Some days being lost works out, though I have no plans on changing to this new tree when I head back in there Sunday morning.