It was now almost five years since I had successfully filled a buck tag here in Ohio. The last buck tag I’ve filled was on November 3rd of 2013 to be exact. I had spent countless hours in the tree and in a blind over the course of those five years and passed up buck after buck, sit after sit, waiting for the right one to come by. Of course I had close encounters here and there, but could never close the distance on a buck I had my eyes on, or at least one I’d be happy to put my tag on. Unlike my unsuccessful years, it took only three hunts this fall to find the one. Three hunts.
A Near Disaster
I’ll start with a quick recap of the first two hunts before diving into my successful hunt on the 13th. Season opens up for us in Ohio in late September. It’s typically hot, humid, and the mosquitos are relentless that time of year. This year, season opened on the 29th and unlike other years, it was quite a bit cooler on opening morning (50’s or so). After a long night the night before preparing, I was up bright and early ready to get the 2018 season underway. That morning I took a step into my treestand and one of the cables snapped! I was luckily hooked into the lifeline on the tree, and since the other cable was still holding I made the bold decision to hunt that morning from a somewhat unsafe treestand. To add insult to injury, around 9:30AM or so, a few does came in…and to make a long story short, my Carn-four tipped arrow ate tree bark instead of whitetail.
I spent the next day relocating that set and replacing the stand as well as setting up a new set over a small food plot I had planted earlier in September. Fast forward another week and summer decided to again rear itself in the Buckeye state. Temps soared to the upper 80’s, and mosquitos came out in full force. A small buck appeared around 10AM but that was about it. With a similar forecast for the next day, I decided to wait and not hunt until conditions improved. It only took another week and the weather again took another 180 degree turn. The weather forecast was showing lows in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s with a NW wind. Perfect conditions to sit in the new set I had relocated a couple of weeks prior.
The Hunt Begins
I made it into the woods about 30 minutes before shooting light and situated all of my gear after climbing 20′ up into my Lonewolf stand. I sat and watched the woods come alive as the sun peered over the horizon and through the leaves behind me. Squirrels ran rampant across the forest floor and through the tree tops searching for acorns. A lone raccoon also ventured across one of the shooting lanes in front of my stand and made its way up and down a couple of trees no more than 30 yards away. I was tempted to help out the local turkey population, but quickly realized that raccoon season wasn’t open for a few weeks yet, so he got a free pass.
After the raccoon finally made its way off into the distance, I spent a bit of time shooting b-roll and playing with a few of the settings on my camcorder while the morning ticked on by. The weather and temperature were perfect I thought to myself, but the deer were obviously not following the script. I spent the next half hour or so catching myself dozing off. It was overcast and cool but I was warm and cozy in my Sitka Stratus bibs and jacket with only a few layers underneath.
The Buck Appears
Around 10:15AM I glanced towards a large oak tree that was sitting about 50 yards away directly in front of me and caught movement through the thick honeysuckle. After quickly realizing it was a whitetail, I immediately reached for my camcorder to start recording. I no more than got the camera turned on, pointed in the general direction and recording when I suddenly notice the headgear. I grabbed my bow, turned on the second angle GoPro mounted to it and moved my attention to getting the deer in the viewfinder on my camera.
When I first noticed the antlers, I wasn’t positive he was going to be a shooter, but as he cleared from behind a honeysuckle bush, I quickly noticed the tall tines and wide spread between them. He was being followed by a smaller buck as they both headed directly for my tree. There was a small trail offshoot that began about 10 yards in front of me and shooting off to my right, the bucks left, heading back to a large block of timber. I tried to hold my composure as he got closer and closer and eventually turned to take the small trail to my right. I repositioned the camera to make sure he stayed in frame and began to come to full draw. I tried to stop him at first by giving out a soft “meh”, and when he didn’t immediately stop, I became more insistent and eventually let out a loud “bah” to get him to come to a complete stop. He stood broadside at only 10 yards away.
I settled the top pin slightly above mid-chest and my arrow hit its mark, high chest with projected exit low in the offside shoulder. He took off and expired after only 30 to 40 yards in a few short seconds. Just like that the monkey was off of my back.
Although I am ecstatic to have filled my buck tag, I must admit that I’m a bit bummed that I will be missing out on the fun of hunting a buck during the rut. I’m not saying that I won’t be hunting anymore this fall, I still have 5 doe tags I can fill in the two counties I hunt – and I intend to fill a few of them. This will however give me the opportunity to spend a little more time with my wife and daughter through the fall and winter months, which I’m sure they will appreciate as much as I will.
A Quick Tip
A quick tip for those shooting an adjustable type sight. I keep my Fast Eddie XL dial set on 30 yards for the top pin knowing I can shoot anything in closer by compensating on my aiming point slightly to hit where I want. It has worked perfectly for me and reduces the need for me to adjust my sight dial for 99% of my whitetail hunts.
- Hoyt RX-1 Ultra – 70# 31″draw length
- Spot Hogg – Fast Eddie XL w/ double pin scope
- Gold Tip Pierce Platinum 250 arrows
- Firenock nocks, Aerovane III vanes, and outserts
- Carter 1st Choice release
- Grim Reaper broadheads – 125 gr. Carni-four
- HECS Stealthscreen base layers and socks
- Sitka Gear – Stratus bibs and jacket, kelvin vest, fanatic hoody, merino top/bottom
- Benchmade HUNT Knives – Altitude 15200
- Tightspot 5 arrow quiver
- Fourth Arrow Carbon arm 2.0
- Vortex Razor HD 10×42
- QAD UltraRest MXT