On the last hunt of the Thanksgiving break, I finally filled my doe tag. After an early-season episode that went wrong, I was thrilled to hit double-lung, resulting in the whitetail deer running about 30 yards and dying a very quick death.
Sunday morning was my last day to hunt. I’d hunted hard, most every morning and evening of the break, and had nothing to show for it. Finally blessed with a north-northwest wind, I was able to get in a ground blind that had a close food source and some high-powered attractant.
While it was still dark, I heard two deer snort me from behind, and as the sun rose I was feeling a tinge of hopelessness.
However, I do remember thinking, on a day that I missed church to sit out in the woods, it was quite a beautiful day to be sitting. Seeing a sunrise in the woods is a great communion in itself, and I was thankful to be a part of it.
Then, the woods got busy. I saw a small 8-point, a nonshooter buck that should be a decent deer in the next couple of years. Then I saw a spike (yearling buck with about a 5-inch spike on each side, the beginnings of a rack) with his doe, eating in the early morning. The spike and the 8-point sparred for a couple of minutes, which was cool to see and saved me the trouble of rattling myself.
Then at about 8 o’clock, out came an antlerless whitetail whose frame stood taller than all the other deer except the 8-point.
I presumed it was a fairly small doe, but at this point in the season, three days before rifle season opened, I determined it was a shooter. Watching all three deer – the spike, his doe, and the larger deer – for about 30 minutes, I arrived at the conclusion that I would take the largest of the does if she presented a good shot.
For some reason, the spike went walking off, and the smaller of the does that had arrived with him didn’t follow. So both does were eating corn about 30 to 35 yards from me. Hunting out of a ground blind, I knew which way I thought they would go, and once they moved and put a tree between us, I swung my legs around to the right and grabbed my bow, set up perfectly if they came down the game trail I thought they would.
Sure enough, they started walking that way, the smaller of the two going first. I drew back and waited, and the smaller doe kept walking. Arrow drawn, I said a quick prayer that my arrow would fly true and the animal would die a quick death.
Sure enough, the second deer entered my window. Twice I made noise similar to a cow, trying to get it to stop, but it kept walking. Once I got my sight steadied on the right side of the kill zone (it was walking to my right) I let go. I heard a solid thump, the deer ran to its left and jumped a fence, and I watched as it ran about 25 yards and laid down. After about five minutes, it got up, took a few staggering steps, and crashed for good.
At this point I knew it was a good shot – turned out to be double-lung once I got it opened up and looked – and I felt very thankful as I sat in that ground blind watching it draw its last breaths.
Walking up, I took a moment when I reached the animal to admire and give thanks for the beauty of it all. Then I rolled it over – and saw testicles.
Yep, a button buck. Buttons probably a quarter of an inch, and able to be tagged as antlerless, but a young button buck nonetheless. I felt a little remorse, but lucky it was shot on my cousin’s lease and not his own land, as he tries to minimize that to preserve as much of the buck population as possible. Lesson learned.
Great shot, terrible gender determination.
However, the young buck will be awfully good eating, and I can’t wait for the processor to get done with him.
I’ll keep you posted on how preparation and consumption goes, but I’m anticipating some tasty venison. All that is left is to fill that buck tag that is burning a hole in my pocket.
Caleb Reganand 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+.