The Best Deer Season of My Life
I grew up in South Alabama and spent countless days afield with my dad. I love hunting, but I just haven't had the time to go like I used to. I have three kids and have been happily married for 16 years. After spending my 20s and 30s raising a family and chasing professional success, I finally had enough time and resources to dive back in to my obsession. With my wife's blessing I got into a great hunting club and purchased a four wheeler and trailer. I have never been so excited for an upcoming season.
Our club has just under 4000 acres. It is an understatement to say this much property is overwhelming to learn. I put in my time and did my level best to learn what I could before season. I think I put a little over 100 miles on my ATV riding the property.
I know there are GPS units and aerial maps, but for whatever reason I like learning the hard way. I learned the hard way that our bush hog roads can take you in circles, and many don't go anywhere.
My favorite part of this whole experience was bringing my son into the fold. Shepherd is only seven and he was so excited to ride the ATV and sleep in a bunk bed! I decided to bring him along in December for his first hunt, because that is when we harvest does.
The road we took to his stand is four miles of mud that provided a four wheeler ride he will never forget. Upon arriving at the stand he rushed to the shooting house and ascended the ladder. I had not even made it up the steps when his wide eyes met mine.
"Dad, there are deer!" Sure enough there were two young does in the field. They left about five seconds before he could get set up on them. The excitement left the lad a little upset. I spent the next hour consoling his disappointment and assuring him that we should see more deer.
The field began to fill with deer around four o'clock. They came out in the far end of the field 150 yards away. I whispered that we would wait a little bit for them to feed in closer.
He agreed, but within a minute whispered, "I can make that shot." This got me tickled, but I insisted he wait.
I believe there must have been a buck around, because all the deer ran our direction for no particular reason. I helped him shoulder the 7mm-08, which he was clueless would be waiting for him under the tree in a week. I watched carefully as he took aim.
When he fired he exclaimed, "I got her!" I thought, Got what? That deer didn't move!
It turns out he did not aim at the doe that was 40 yards away. He made a perfect 85 yard shot on a 102 pound doe, midfield. We celebrated and this alone would have made my season worth the effort.
Deer hunting is a funny thing, though. While I was tickled that Shep connected, I was itching to kill a big buck. For whatever reason this was not working out for me. My instincts must have been decent, because on two occasions people hunted behind me and killed huge bucks that weighed 200 pounds. I was only seeing small bucks, or they were crossing before I could get on them.
I began to have that feeling of dread and despair with which all hunters are familiar. For my 40th hunt of the season I decided to return where my son had success. Loggers had pulled out all of their equipment a couple of weeks before and the road was now in very bad condition. I made a miserable four mile ride into the property and was truly questioning my sanity the whole way in.
I arrived at the stand and scared a young buck out of the field. This was not a great start. I sat there reliving my son's experience and wishing for a buck. Nobody had been to this place for a month, there should be more deer.
By five o'clock I had not seen any deer and was feeling really down. I was even thinking about leaving, because that road weighed heavy on my mind.
At 5:04 I looked up and was in complete disbelief. Just 60 yards away stood the biggest buck I have ever seen in my life!
I waited for him to lower his head and begin feeding. Wasting no time, I grabbed my .270 and carefully sat it in the window. I eased the safety off and the buck raised his head. For a moment, time stood still.
I squeezed off a shot and the giant collapsed. I carefully descended my stand and approached my trophy. My season was complete.
Success is a peculiar thing. Usually, when I harvest an animal I get in a big rush, rather than enjoying the moment. I have spoken to several other hunters who described the same thing.
On this night, there was to be no rush; just me and my buck, four miles from nowhere. I got him strapped down and carefully made my way out to the road. I got all of my gear loaded and headed back to camp. I am not too proud to admit that I stopped and got out of my truck four times to make sure the buck was riding well.
Once at camp I was greeted by my new friends who were genuinely happy for me. The eight point tipped the scales at 188 pounds. I am grateful for my buck, my son's doe, my wife's patience and my new friends.
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