Good things come to those who wait.
At least that’s been my experience in most of my hunting and fishing pursuits, and I’m banking on that same notion proving true this deer season.
Since opening day, I’ve been out in the woods a total of about 25 hours sitting in the woods. That doesn’t include work put in ahead of season in preparation for the season: scouting, hanging stands, making sure my bow was zeroed in and, honestly, just driving around with binoculars dreaming.
So far, it’s been an abnormally warm early bow season, and hopefully the warm weather won’t last much longer. Either way, people all over are taking huge deer, and each email that I get from my brother and friends just makes me that much more anxious for the weekends.
What I do feel good about is I’ve seen the buck I’m hunting. About three weeks back, walking into the woods, I saw both a scrape on the edge of a soybean field I’m hunting on, about 70 yards from my stand, and a bedding area just in the woods about 20 yards from the scrape – very encouraging. Weekend before last, I saw an old-looking, 8-point typical come out and check the scrape before going out on the beans.
With a rifle this deer is hanging on my wall right now. But, that’s why bow hunting is so much better. Before I have a shot at this buck, I’ll know if he has any stubs on his rack and I’ll know exactly how many years old he is. And hopefully he won’t know what I smell like.
Maybe the allure of the sport can best be described by a story involving three brothers unrelated to myself.
The story of the brothers – from Marquette, Kansas – began in 2005, when they spotted him as a 2-year-old buck measuring around 120 inches. Since that time he grew to a 160-inch buck last year and this year he’s expected to be about a 185, after grossing at 200 7/8 before the mandatory 60-day antler drying period required by the bow hunting record club, Pope & Young.
Each year they scouted him with trail cams, never being able to get a good look at the monster since he was wise enough to avoid many of the game trails used by other deer and also because he was largely nocturnal. But hours spent in stands and blinds gave them glimpses, and sometime around October 29 of this year, Scott White rushed home from work, showered and went to his stand. That evening “Big Nine,” as they called him, came rustling through the branches and he got his shot, which he didn’t miss. Turns out he was “Big 11” by this date.
My immediate reply to my brother expressed how awesome I thought it was that this set of brothers hunted the same buck for about four years. They scouted it every year, watched it grow and knew every time they sat in the woods this deer was lingering. My brothers reply, parallel to mine, was something like, “Those are the kind of stories you like to hear about. They deserved it.”
Then, a couple of weeks later, an older brother of Scott’s shot another trophy. Simply put, time in the woods always pays off.
Or, something like my mom’s bad luck turning good last Thursday can get you there by way of accident. On her way to work, mom hit a doe, a common occurrence all over Kansas, given the deer population. Thank goodness she was alright first and foremost. Then in good, old-fashioned rural resourcefulness, the sheriff who showed up on the scene gave mom a tag, and she had the deer processed.
Her words to me? “Caleb, I got mine, where’s yours?!” I can’t wait to eat a portion of that 30 pounds of summer sausage, and maybe listen to how my hunting methods are flawed.
To any of you readers who may have already filled your tags, email me any pictures you have (firstname.lastname@example.org). It may make me long for the forest, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And I’d love to see the fruits of your labor.
Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on Google+.