Last Day of the Gun Season

Steve Johnson

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  • Prostaff Member Steve Johnson

5am came earlier than normal it seemed and the thought of getting up and heading out into the 20 degree weather is enough to make any hunter at least consider rolling over and staying tucked under the covers. After 15 minutes of rolling around, knowing I would be upset with myself if I didn't get up I climbed out of bed and put the coffee on.

As I began my half mile walk to the stand for the last day of firearms season I couldn't help feeling excited about the hunt. Even with the 15 minute delay and the frozen leaves I was able to slide quietly into the stand 30 minutes before shooting light. For me, there isn't anything better then sipping a hot cup of coffee and watching the sunrise from 20 feet up.

It was well after daylight when the silence was broken by the sound of crashing antlers, breaking limbs and grunting. I’ve never heard a “real” buck fight, sure I have seen yearlings pushing each other around but nothing like I was hearing at that moment. I couldn't see the fight through the thick cover, but 2 bucks had obviously decided a little lady was worth killing for. It went on for over a minute and it sounded like they were tearing the woods down. I couldn't believe how loud it was, but not from antlers crashing. Most of the noise was grunting, leaves crunching and limbs breaking. It would stop for a few seconds and then I heard the antlers crash again and the limbs start breaking. By the time the winner was decided I was shaking uncontrollably with excitement and I just knew a monster was going to step out at any second.

I never did see either of the warriors but all the commotion seemed to attract even more deer. It wasn't long and a yearly buck strolled out of the thicket and by my stand. After that things were quiet for a while until I caught some movement in front of me. After a quick look with the Bino's I could see it was doe heading my way. As she moved towards me I caught more movement behind her and sure enough it was a 135” 8 point that I knew very well named “Lucky” (quick story on “Lucky”, Last year this buck was missed 3 times within a 2 day period by 3 different bowhunters, earning his name “lucky”). I had seen Lucky once about 3 weeks ago and was pushing a doe about 80 yards from me. Lucky sports some major mass and a super tall mainframe 8 point rack. As Lucky and his doe fed towards me I was trying to decide if he was a “shooter” on this morning with a firearm. He's a very nice buck, but I know there are many other bigger bucks in the area and judging by the fight earlier I knew there had to be a hot doe around. At one point Lucky presented a neck shot, but I’ve never tried a shot like that and I wasn't going to take a chance on wounding this great buck so I decided to pass on that. As they got within 40 yards, but still never giving me a real good shot, another nice 8 point came off the hill and Lucky decided he wasn't welcome at the party and ran him off. I never did get a clean shot opportunity at Lucky but knowing next year he will be a true giant, I’m wasn't too upset about it.

As if that wasn't enough to say I had a successful morning, about 10:00, 7 doe came filling out of the thicket right under the stand along with a 2 ½ year old 10 pointer with a broken right G2 I had previously seen a few times this year. They came out and fed right under me and the buck bumped and pushed them around a little. After a few minutes the does had enough and moved back into the thicket, but the young 10 stayed and fed 15 yards away. I was trying to take a picture of him with my phone when something caught his attention. He whipped his head up and starred behind me. I slowly turned around to see another set of antlers moving towards me. It was another larger 10 pointer that I hadn't seen before. As he moved from the thicket to about 40 yards I got a good look at him in the bino's. He was a clean mainframe 10 with 10” G2's, 8” G3's and 4” G4's but no mass. A very nice buck indeed, probably in the 125-130” range. As he approached to within 20 yards I studied him well and decided he was a young STUD and would easily grow into a 150” giant with another year or 2 under his belt and I gave him a pass as well. As he moved through and back towards the thicket, I couldn't help thinking just how hard it was to let a buck like that walk. That 10 was easily the largest buck I had ever let walk and believe me, it wasn't easy, but hopefully it will pay off.

Posted by Steve Johnson under Field Journals on December 13, 09 09:21 AM | Permalink

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