I’ve heard it said many times that you can’t fill a tag sitting at home. I would argue that it was sitting at home on November 1st that put me in a perfect position to do just that. Of course, the hunt that took place is far from your classic whitetail hunt. However, we must be opportunistic at times. When you are presented with a good chance to put a stalk a whitetail, I would rather err on the side of excitement. As I stood at full draw on what would be my first archery buck since 2013, I had zero regrets as I let my arrow fly!
Earlier that afternoon on my way home from work, I noticed the river behind the house was way above its normal level. As a result, the creek running through my property would be up as well, and that typically shut down deer movement. So in lieu of hunting, I decided to get a few things done around the house. Shortly after I got home, I took notice of my German short-haired Pointer pup Quinn running frantically from window to window. Nothing unusual for her and typically meant she had spotted a squirrel in the yard, however something about the intensity in her chirping told me there may be something more to it. I walked to the nearest window and pushed open the blinds. I quickly spotted a buck following a doe through a small grown up field behind the house. I watched in amazement as they meandered their way to the northwest corner of the field and bedded down. For a moment, I contemplated going to find my DSLR so I could snap a few photos. Instead, I rushed to the basement to grab my bow, rangefinder, and throw on some camo. Suddenly it dawned on me. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was about to do. What was the wind like? How would I approach the deer? I carefully considered my options.
A quick check showed the wind was coming out of the ENE which was far from ideal for the approach I had initially considered. I also pulled up my onX Hunt App to look at an aerial photo of the field the deer were bedded in. I had a few small trails mowed through the field that I hoped would assist in my stalk, but it was going to take a lot of luck if this was going to work. Ultimately, I decided to work my way into the field from the southeast corner and head west with the intention to use the trails to help silence my approach before getting within bow range. With a deep breath, I pushed out the door and fell into a crouch as I made my way across the yard.
As expected, I had little trouble reaching my entry point. The eastern edge of the field was grown up enough that I had ample cover, however I couldn’t go far before I would have to be much more careful. The gusting wind and several inches of rain over the past few days helped to silence my movement. About 20 yards into the field, I thought things were going perfect. That was of course until I got tangled up in some wild rose briars. I worked frantically to get loose but felt I was causing to much of a ruckus. With the next gust of wind, I ripped myself free. I looked up quickly fearing that I might have alerted the buck to my presence, but I couldn’t see him. I waited a few seconds to be safe, and then I began moving forward once more. I could see the mowed trail ahead of me. The buck should be within 40 yards now. Cautiously, I raised my head to see if I could spot the buck’s antlers, but there was nothing to be seen. I thought it might be the vantage point I had, so I moved forward a few more yards. Once again, I raised my head only to see an empty field before me. I was surprised as I felt I should be able to see the buck by now. Hesitant to go any further without first pinpointing his location, I began to lift myself up off the ground. Before I was even sitting upright on my knees, I heard stomping to my right. There at about 45 yards stood the doe starting right at me. She had clearly spotted me, but it appeared the buck had not, his full attention was on her. Before he had a chance to spot me, I nocked an arrow and cranked my bow back. Just as I anchored, the buck popped out from behind a small brush pile and jerked his head my direction. I found him through my peep sight and held the second pin on my Fast Eddie XL just a little low. The buck took one step as I touched off my Carter Wise Choice release. My arrow took the buck right at the last rib and exited just a few inches behind the front shoulder. He whirled around and plowed through a honey suckle bush before I lost sight of him. I did my best to listen as he ran down the hill, but the wind made it impossible. I didn’t hear him crash, but I knew he wasn’t going far with a Whitetail Special through his vitals!
On the Trail
I stood for a minute in complete disbelief! Had that really just happened? I made a few quick phone calls to my dad and few hunting buddies after seeing a lot of good blood at the point of impact and a blood soaked arrow. I was so excited that I wasted little time before I took up the trail. The trail was easy to follow, and the buck was bleeding out of both sides. I trailed him all the way to the base of the hill before the blood trail ended at the creek. Most of the year, this wouldn’t have been any concern, but the heavy rainfall had caused the creek to rise well above normal levels. My heart sank immediately, and I was suddenly questioning my shot placement. I was 90% certain the shot was good, but I was a little surprised the buck had chosen to traverse the flooded creek. Before accepting the buck had swam across, I grid searched the area around the creek for about 50 yards in every direction. Just as I was about to give up hope, I found a single drop of blood. A few feet later, a few more drops, and then the blood trail was back just as heavy as before. It was as if the buck had come upon the creek unexpectedly and gotten out as quick as he could.
For another 50 or 60 yards I followed the blood trail before it once again terminated into the creek. I searched for a hundred yards in every direction, but there was no more blood to be found. I was convinced the buck had swam the creek. I found myself on Facetime with good friend and SELFILMED member Steve Shields looking for advice. I showed him the blood trail and we both agreed the buck had to be dead. He asked me if I could see where the buck had exited the creek on the other side, but I could not. Not at first anyhow, but upon second glance I could see blood. A heaping pile of blood on…I started laughing. I told Steve I could see blood and felt confident I knew where the buck was. I turned the camera on my phone to show him, but the picture wasn’t clear enough for him to make out the main beam sticking out from the brush. At last, I told him I could see the buck lying dead. I had finally ended my 6-year drought on archery bucks. To say I was pumped was an understatement, but the work had just begun, and I knew there was only one way to get to the buck.
A short while later, I stood with my kids and a good friend as I dove into the cold waters and swam to my buck. It was far from enjoyable, but the second I put my hands on the deer’s rack, I forgot all about the cold. Fixing a rope to his antlers, I jumped back in and returned as we pulled the buck back across and shared a few high fives before dragging him up the hill. What had started out as a normal afternoon quickly turned into an adventure I won’t soon forget. Best of all, I got to share the recovery with my daughter and oldest son. They were just as excited as I was, and it was perfect timing as we will be spending the next few weeks trying to get Morgan her first deer as well. Best of all, as of this writing, there have been a few more deer to hit the ground for the SELFILMED crew. Brett got us kicked off in October and things are looking up for us this year as there is a lot of season left and a few tags to be filled yet in other states. Check back soon at www.selfilmed.com/blog for more field updates from our 2018/19 deer season.
- Hoyt RX-1 Turbo – 70# 29″draw length
- Spot Hogg Fast Eddie XL w/ double pin scope
- Gold Tip Pierce Platinum 300 arrows
- Firenock nocks, Aerovane III vanes, and outserts
- Carter 1st Choice release
- Grim Reaper broadheads – 100 gr. Whitetail Special
- HECS Stealthscreen base layers and socks
- Sitka Gear Fanatic Hoody
- LaCrosse Alpha Burly Boots
- Benchmade HUNT Knives – Nestucca Cleaver
- Tightspot 7 arrow quiver
- Vortex Ranger 1000 Rangefinder
- QAD UltraRes