Just like every November for the past 10 years we go hunting in the Virginia National Forest. This year I was more than ready, I couldn’t wait to be up in the mountains with my friends and family enjoying the great outdoors. My Dad went up the day before I did, to set up camp where we would be staying for the next two weeks. When I came up the next day, I brought the rest of our hunting gear and gas for the generator. The first week it was just my dad, his friend Tracy and I hunting. My Dad and I knew the rut was just kicking in so we decided to hike all the way to the top of the mountain, where we had scouted earlier in the season. There were a lot of good sign that the deer were moving and the rut was in. Everywhere we looked we saw rub after rub and you could smell a scrape before you saw it. We also found signs of bear scat and tracks, since bear season was in this week, we hoped to tag a bear. I decided to sit on top of a flat oak ridge covered with acorns, rubs, scrapes and bear sign. Dad helped me hang my Timber tall climbing stand; I got settled in and started climbing up the tree.

Dad walked back down the mountain and found a good place to sit with lots of good signs. It was my first morning in my stand and I just knew I was going to see something. I couldn’t have picked a better ridge, there was sign everywhere. We sat in our stands all day and but didn’t see anything. That night as my Dad and I were walking down the fire trail back to camp I caught something moving in front of us. I cut my light on and we saw two eyes staring at us, at first we thought it was a deer. We weren’t 20 yards from it when all of a sudden its eyes went from 4 feet off the ground, to about 6 foot tall looking down at us we realized what it was. We quickly started making noise to scare it off, as it ran off I caught it in my light again and it was a huge black bear. Two or three days went by and still nothing. It was the day before I had to go back home to pick up my friends and Taylor, when I told my dad we should try our spots out we picked the first day. That afternoon we went back to our spots and it hadn’t been an hour after we settled down in our stand I texted dad “you seen anything?” he sent back “nope you?” Before I could even send back a message, the air was rattled by my dad’s Thompson Center Impact. I gave him a few minutes and then called him, he said he shot at a buck and it ran off. I climbed out my stand and went down to help him look for the deer; we looked everywhere but couldn’t find any blood or sign that he had hit the deer. We went back to camp disappointed that he missed the deer but “it happens to everyone!” I told him. The next day I went back home to pick up my friends and sister and resupply. We made it back to camp just as it started to get dark. We ate dinner and went straight to bed. The next morning, my friends and I started up the mountain. We had about 2 hours of walking ahead of us and about an hour in a half before day light. As we started nearing the top of the mountain I showed Jonathon and Jay where to sit. Hunter and I kept on walking; I was going to set him on the same ridge I sat on the first week. As we made it to where I had my climber chained to the tree I noticed it had been messed with. “A bear” Hunter said, I turned around thinking he saw one when I realized what he meant, you could look at my seat an tell a bear had messed with it. It had teeth marks in it and was ripped up. We had run out of time and it was getting light fast. I decided to sit on the ground next to my climber. I put hunter about 75 yards away from me overlooking the bottom of the ridge we were on. We hadn’t been sitting there 25 minutes calling and rattling when I looked over at Hunter in his tree stand. He was standing and holding his muzzleloader up aiming at something. I couldn’t see what he was aiming at, but all of a sudden I heard the boom and saw the smoke roll out of his barrel when he shot.

The next thing I see is a huge buck running down the ridge past where I was. I looked at Hunter and knew from the look in his face, he had missed. I quickly stood up and grunted, stopping the buck about 85 yards in front of me. I threw my Thompson Center Thunder Hawk up and put the Leupold scope on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. I saw the deer hunch up and take off running, I knew I’d hit him and he didn’t go far. I took off running down the ridge were I last saw him. As I came to the fire trail, there he lay. Hunter said all he could hear was me yelling “whooooaaaah” I got him. I ran back up to my spot and gathered my gear and walked over to hunter and helped him with his stuff. We went down to where my deer laid and took some pictures and got him ready to take back to camp. Since the next day was our last day to hunt I decided to go ahead and bring my tree stand down. We loaded the deer up on the deer cart and started our way down the mountain. Jonathon and Jay decided to stay till dark and finish hunting. Hunter and I finally made it back to camp where Dad, Taylor and Tracy couldn’t believe it. We told them how Hunter had shot at it and missed. Then I shot after it went past me, and stood around looking. I was picking on my sister because I’d finally gotten a deer bigger than her. I was so excited; it was the second buck I had ever taken and the biggest. It was a tall wide 8 pointer. As we stood around looking at the deer, my sister noticed it had been shot in its tail. We all looked closer and sure enough it had a bullet hole right through its tail and it looked a couple of days old. All we could think of is it had to have been the deer dad shot at a couple of days before. We all sat around the camp fire that night talking about what a good time we were having. The next day everyone else headed out for the last day of hunting. In the end, I was the only one to get a deer. Everyone sat around the camp fire that night talking about how much fun they were having and how they wished it wasn’t the last night in the mountains but we all knew that we would be back again to keep the tradition and memories going.

national forest hunt 2010 079

 national forest hunt 2010 077