Gun season opened on the day of my birthday this year, so we were hoping for a little extra luck. In 2009, I filmed Josh during the gun season, so this year Josh was going to tape me trying to throw a piece of lead at a deer. Every year Josh and I switch off from cameraman to hunter to give each other equal opportunities at deer. I was fortunate to get the gun this year, but I kind of felt guilty because I got a deer during the bow season; we carried through with our system though. We were feeling good about the opening day because in 2009, we saw fourteen does and six bucks in one of our spots we got permission for. During the opening weekend we usually sit in our stands and only lay our sights on mature bucks. The deer seem to move well during the day on the opening week end, but once the weekend is over, the deer seem nocturnal. Once Monday comes around we usually get some drives organized and go for management bucks and does.
“Justin… dude… we are late!” Josh explained. I immediately shot up off of my bed and into my blaze orange. We both rushed to take showers and get our equipment together. “We need to get out there man, the snow is really crunchy and we are going to scare deer on the way in,” I said as we were driving to the property. We arrived at the property about a half hour after shooting hours started. It was a very cold morning and it was miserable from the start. We got out to our tree and we only sat an hour and a half before we called it a morning. We saw four does about twenty minutes before we left, but they barely came into sight through the branches. We went back to the truck and we decided to move to a different spot that we hunt hard during bow season. We invited our friend, Logan, to join us on some small drives we organized. We usually sit all of opening week end, but due to the weather conditions we decided to keep ourselves moving by doing drives.
It wasn’t long into our second little drive when I saw a really nice buck take off from the area where my brother was walking. Josh didn’t have a gun because he didn’t buy a license (he was supposed to film), but he didn’t see the buck anyway. The deer ran to Logan and I watched him pull his gun up and shoot four times in the deer’s direction. He, unfortunately, missed the running deer, but I knew that the deer would still be out in the area. We continued drives throughout the day and we only saw does and small bucks. On Sunday we saw about fifteen does and five small bucks; nothing worth shooting.
We were disappointed that we didn’t get an opportunity during the opening weekend, but we knew how to handle the feeling. It was the same feeling that we dealt with a numerous times in the past deer seasons. Josh and I had classes from Monday through Wednesday, so we weren’t going to hunt. Josh missed his classes and used his extended vacation catching up with his friends. Thursday came around and we went to a Thanksgiving party all day. Josh and I talked a bit about what we would do out in the woods the next day; we decided to just do a couple small deer drives.
As Friday morning came around, it seemed everyone in our house was moving slow. We slept in a little bit and then just sat around and watched a couple holiday movies on TV. We finally called Logan and asked him if he would want to hit up the woods in the afternoon. Logan gave us the thumbs up, so at 1:30 pm we picked him up and headed to the woods.
We arrived at the property where we saw the big buck on the opening day. We decided to do the same drives we did on opening day. I went to my position as Logan and Josh walked through the brushy pines and CRP field. On the way to my spot I noticed some people walking on the twenty acre property that only I had permission for. I confronted them and told them that they need to ask permission to hunt the property. They gave me a bit of a smirk and I told them to stay off the property unless they ask the land owner from now on. I was pretty frustrated by the sight of them on the land. I have put too much time and money into the land and the deer to have trespassers in there and shooting the deer. I told Josh and Logan that we might as well leave because the other hunters had to have scared all the deer. We walked back to figure out a new plan at the truck. I visited the land owners’ house and I notified them of the situation of the people on their land. They said that I could post the land next year so people don’t “accidentally” walk on the land. I was satisfied with that because it meant that they were going to start being more strict about letting other people hunt the small piece.
Afterwards, we headed to a property that was not touched yet during the gun season, so we had high hopes of seeing deer. We got out of the truck and quickly discussed what we would shoot. We decided that we would shoot any management buck that gave us a quality shot. We were not at all planning to see anything that would go on the wall.
The eighty acre property consists of woods that surround a big corn field. We decided to layout the drive arrangement into five small separate drives. We set off on the first drive and by the end we did not see a single deer. The second and third drive ended the same way; no deer. Josh told me to go up by our bow stand on the other side of the larger piece we were going to drive as the fourth piece. I told him I would sit on a pinch-point that is in a really thick spot in the woods. I knew that if I saw a deer in that spot, then I would get a shot. I walked around the woods to my desired location. I finally got situated in what I thought was a good spot. The spot really didn’t seem right because I couldn’t tell how far I could shoot and I thought the deer could maybe run by me easy. I tried not to worry about the negative things that could happen, so I sat down to scan the woods. I waited about ten minutes before I heard a branch snap. I focused on the area the noise came from and then realized that it was probably just Josh or Logan. So I looked back to my left to make sure the woods were clear.
To my amazement, a monster buck and 4 does were walking right at me from out of our drive. I knew instantly that the buck was one I could not pass up. “Justin, now you have missed several nice bucks in the past with this shotgun. This buck right here is not going to be the next one that got away. Just breathe…” I told myself. I did not shake at all as I lifted up my gun and put the butt of the stock into my arm pit. The buck had been looking at me since I started to raise my gun. He was face directly at me and he was about one-hundred yards out. I took my time as I put the open sights of my Remington 870 youth model 20 gauge right on the center of the deer’s brisket. I pulled the trigger and waited for my sights to get readjusted on the deer in the distance. I was ready to start shooting more rounds just in case the deer didn’t get the just of my first shot. I couldn’t believe my eyes; the buck had dropped right in its tracks! I quickly got up and walked towards the deer as I heard Josh and Logan running through the woods. I got up to the deer and was amazed by its massive rack. I didn’t realize how big the deer was when I shot because I wanted to compose myself and make the shot. I thought I would see how big he really was and then choke.
“Dude… What did you get?” Josh yelled. “I shot a monster dude!” I gladly replied. Josh started to running through the woods and looking around me for the deer. He saw its unbelievable rack when he got closer and then jumped at me with joy and gave me a hug when he got to me. “We thought you just got a little tiny one,” Josh exclaimed as he whipped his phone out to take pictures, “get behind that thing!” “Dude it is still moving a little…” I explained to Josh. “I don’t care!” he replied. I got behind the deer and lifted its massive rack. I saw Logan walking fast through the woods in the distance. Logan saw me holding up the deer and couldn’t believe his eyes. “You are the luckiest kid I know!” he said; I couldn’t have agreed with him more. We all were so excited, but I couldn’t believe how fast it all happened. I couldn’t grasp the fact that I just shot a buck of a lifetime, it was an odd feeling. I was happy that Josh, Logan, and I could share the awesome experience together. We have hunted together since we were about ten years old and it was cool to see all of us out in the woods looking down on an amazing buck that we all earned. We all knew we were lucky. We didn’t give up and we just threw together some shoddy plans in an effort to get whatever we could. We all worked for the deer and we all deserve our part in the story. After several minutes of admiring the deer, we field dressed him and tagged him. We were excited to show all of our family members and friends this deer phenomenal.
The deer was weighed after being field dressed at 195 pounds. When I caped him out, there was not an ounce of fat on him: which means he was breeding and chasing a lot. As a typical deer, he (non-official) green scores at 182 inches (gross) and 167 inches (net). He’s a main-frame ten point with a funky tine between his G1 and G2 on his right side. He also has kicker on his right G1, so he is considered a non-typical twelve point. The taxidermist aged him at four and a half years old. Could you imagine what he would’ve been at his peak age? I have yet to see what he scores non-typical though! His bases are seven inches around and the palmation between his G2’s and G3’s are seven inches around also. He is an unbelievable deer and I am very proud of him. I was pleased to end my 2010 season with two awesome bucks and a doe.
On the last day of the gun season, my dad didn’t tell Josh or me that he was going to go hunting with our old hunting group. He called me and Josh at 11:00 am Sunday morning and told us that he shot a nice ten point near Spring Valley, WI. We had a hard time believing him because he only put in three hours the whole season. He told us that he was serious though and he sent us pictures of it. We still didn’t believe him, because he might not be the one who shot it and he might be trying to trick us. In the end he was telling the truth. He shot a four and a half year old ten point with a twenty-one inch inside spread. As a typical deer, it scored green at 132 inches (gross) and 128 inches (net). Josh and I wish we would’ve been there to see how the story played out, but we were very excited for our dad. The deer is the second largest buck of his life and he was very proud and excited. It was nice to see him get something of that size after his past couple seasons of no hunting. To end the season with a final bang, I hope to film my brother shooting a deer in the late season. If Josh can get another nice buck, we will have four “wall-hangers” just from this year.