Many bowhunters have experienced those years of utter disbelief as we pursue the elusive whitetail. It seems like nothing we do will work and deer season ends uneventful.
When luck is going bad in early season, we remain confident things will change during the rut. Once the rut ends, confidence wanes somewhat, but there is still hope of filling a tag, but late-season hunters may have to endure the ugly side of Mother Nature. She oftentimes wreaks havoc on weather and deer hunting gets rough. However, available food is minimal and locating an active food source can pay off.
Last year’s deer season for me was one sad story after another. Moreover, as luck would have it, due to a change in equipment, I was shooting better than I have ever shot before and had high hopes that an opportunity would present itself.
Food Source Disaster
Consider a buck in late season deadheading towards a wheat field. My husband John called me on the radio to check-in and before I could reply, I saw a 130-inch buck on a crash course with my arrow! A moment later, and just before he came within easy bow range, the buck decided to chase a feeding doe out of the wheat field. The next evening, that same buck walked within bow-range of John, offering an easy shot.
One of the areas I hunt has a large population of coyotes and it is common to see them while deer hunting, however, most deer do not panic. They usually stand and watch them to see what their next move will be.
I spotted a buck walking towards the north, straight away from my location. Immediately, I reached for my grunt tube. The buck heard my grunt and started deadheading south, right towards me. Only 45 yards from my location, he stared in my direction, perked his head up, and then bolted – tail up. I could not understand what in the world went wrong and knew when I grunted that the wind was favorable. After he vanished, I looked south of my stand and saw a coyote approximately 50 yards from my tree. I found it hard to believe one coyote at that distance spooked the buck, but that was the only conclusion I could surmise.
I wish my bad luck could have ended there, but it seems I was just getting started.
While hunting one of my favorite spots one morning, I looked north just after first light and could see something white moving in the thicket. It did not take long to realize I had a buck coming out of the thicket and heading towards a fenceline covered in plush honeysuckle. The buck fed as he headed towards the fence opening – and me — giving me ample time to get my bow as I watched him proceed. The buck was only 15 yards from the fence opening when he stopped and smelled a small tree. The sapling made him sneeze – over-and-over again. As he stood there sneezing, I could do nothing! The height of the fence combined with dense honeysuckle engulfing it made a shooting opportunity impossible. I still had hopes he would walk through the fence opening. Instead, he continued sneezing and galloped right past my location. I did not see that buck the rest of deer season!
Turkeys Chasing Bucks?
Over the years, I have seen some incredible sights. However, last season, I saw something truly amazing, yet costly.
I had watched two bucks on the east side of my tree stand casually working towards me. However, before getting into bow range, the bucks decided to stop and begin sparring. This gave me time to prepare for a shooting opportunity that appeared inevitable. Then my trouble began.
I spotted a huge flock of turkeys on my backside approaching from the west. Immediately, the two bucks stopped fighting and became alert as the turkeys approached. At first, the two bucks walked closer to me and the flock. Guess what – the birds not only showed up – they actually charged towards both bucks, and ran them off. I could not believe my eyes!
Bad Luck at the Buzzer
It was the last day of deer season and I was hunting on the edge of a dense bedding area. Over the years, this thick area has harbored many deer, including some dandy bucks. John had just hung this stand the previous day. Could my last hope pay off?
As I sat in my tree thinking about everything that had happened this year, I noticed a small buck moving through the dense brush in the sanctuary. Wasting no time, I reached for my bow. He continued walking towards me, stopping occasionally to feed on briar and honeysuckle. The buck stopped only 20 yards of me, but remained in the thick sanctuary with only small portions of his neck and head visible. Autumn Olive bushes hid the rest of his body. It was at that point, he decided to bed. Three hours later, while the small buck remained bedded, I spotted a bigger buck approaching. The small buck jumped up and bolted. Well, my patience had not paid off – he never slowed nor walked through the opening!
After the small buck vanished, I could still see the bigger buck. Now I had one hope left as I grunted. At first, the buck turned and walked towards me. However, he soon veered right and passed through the sanctuary – away from me. As I watched him go, he walked right under another tree stand on the other side of the bedding area.
I descended my tree, teary-eyed and broken hearted. Deer season ended. However, once on the ground, I started reminiscing. John had arrived to drop the blind that he just hung for that one hunt, and I showed him where the buck had bedded.
As mentioned previously, the last place I hunted was a stand hung for just that opportunity. Sometimes no matter how much effort is put forth, you still need Lady Luck on your side.
My recorded statistics show that I hunted 50 times last season. Each hunt ranged from 2 ¼ hours to 5 hours – a lot of time to be outdoors in the deer woods watching, waiting and hoping.
So, was last season all bad luck? Of course not! I hunted hard, climbed many trees, yet never fell or suffered any other accidents. Inclement weather during the late season left me cold and sometimes damp, yet hypothermia never threatened me. By hunting hard, I had the opportunity to spend countless hours in the woods and enjoyed several amazing events, despite all that did go wrong. Nevertheless, I can hardly wait to get out there this season to challenge “luck,” and one of God’s most mystifying animals!
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