I had been an active member of Safari Club International (SCI) and a participant of the World Hunting awards program (WHA) since 2002. One of the goals I had set out to accomplish was the Grand Slam of Whitetails of the World. Not a lofty goal, a hunter will have had to travel across the United States and collect 5 different sub-species of whitetail deer. All of these sub-species are remarkably different from one another in hunting tactics to be used, habitat they survive in and body/antler size. What it really forces a hunter to do is to adjust and learn, to experience new ideas and concepts in order to have any chance of success.
I had taken 4 different sub-species of whitetails. I have harvested a couple of Texas whitetail in central Texas, a Midwest whitetail in Iowa and Nebraska, a Northwest whitetail in Alberta Canada and in my home state of Wyoming and lastly a Northeastern whitetail in the beautiful state of Michigan. I made the decision for my last whitetail to be a Southeastern whitetail and to hunt with a good friend, Kevin Paulson in the history rich state of Virginia.
I made sure to absorb in as much information as I could as Kevin and I had spent quite a bit of time on the phone discussing what concepts would be successful and what size deer to be looking to harvest. The date arrived where Hally and I boarded a plane in Denver CO in route to Washington DC to met by Kevin and he would transport us to the area we would be hunting for the next 3 days. I knew the potential of the hunt and was looking forward to meeting Kevin and seeing some new country.
On our first day we moved in well before first light, the weather was chilly but a different cold then we were used to in Wyoming. It was a damp heavy cold that had a tendency to wear on you over time while sitting in the ladder stands. A dense fog laid low on the landscape. We were in a harvested field with rows of Pin Oak and River Birch with American Holly Berries in bright red bloom. The region had been hit hard by recent rainfall and the fields were all swamped as was the timber land inside the trees. It is good in that it will limit the pathways the deer will have accessible to them for movement and our stand was set in an excellent spot to catch moving deer.
The deer hunting was slow, we had the front of the weather on us and this had all the deer staying put and the fog did it’s best to hold tight between us and the ground limiting our ability to see at anything over 50 yards.
This area was getting a lot of hunting pressure, in Virginia it is legal to use dogs for deer hunting. We chose to do some timber line pushes in hopes of making the deer travel for the following days hunt. Hally and I were placed in planned location along timberline, brushed in and the wait was on. Kevin did the pushing as we stayed concealed in flooded timber lines scanning the area for any movement. We were distracted by literally 1000’s of geese flying overhead, wood ducks, bald eagles and several owls all around us. Wildlife really seemed to abound everywhere. We saw 2 good bucks but non within muzzleloader range but it is always exciting to see deer especially under these new conditions.
On the closing day of our hunt we decided to do a little of both tactics, with some stand hunting and some pushes, time to pull out all the stops and make the best attempt we could to be successful. We were in the stand early, although no deer were moving into the open we would see an occasional outline moving thru the trees. These deer were smart, knowledgeable and to only show themselves at exactly last light. As the day moved on, we situated ourselves once again for a push near a dike. Kevin felt a natural barrier would be our best bet in hopes that deer were used to revealing themselves as they moved thru the vicinity. Kevin began the push as we were running out of light and soon the deer began to move as planned. A mature 8 point buck materialized with 2 does and I made no mistake on quickly sealing this hunt to a closing.
Upon inspection he was most likely a 3-1/2 year old buck with an above average body size and he had a lot more red in his coat then our Northwest whitetails in Wyoming. I was thrilled to have had the chance to hunt another subspecies of whitetail and was not surprised in that it would be a totally different experience then my other hunts. Virginia lived up to expectation on being an exceptional location to visit and to hunt.
The taking of this fine buck in Virginia closes another chapter in my quests in hunting, all the time looking forward to the next adventure but still always taking time to smell the roses along our travels. Where one ends another one always begins. I always enjoy the uniqueness of each and every experience we are presented with while hunting.
Thank you to our sponsors, Sitka Gear and Wolverine Boots for providing outstanding products during the duration of our hunt. I would also take this time to express my sincere appreciation to Kevin and Micala Paulson for their generosity in opening their home to us and providing us with yet another lifetime memory in the field.
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