Day three of actual hunting drew to a close as the best day yet. I started off in The Turkey Creek blind where I’ve been for the past two days and had constant activity all morning long. The first deer showed up at 7:40 AM and there were deer in front of me every minute until 10:20. The first deer in was a very small six pointer, but he was bigger than any deer seen the first two days, so things started on a positive note.
The plan was to move to another blind at 11:00 unless I saw something in the morning that compelled me to stay. As tempted as I was to hang in there and wait for the bigger buck to show, I decided to stick to the plan and move. It turned out to be a great decision!
The “Rub” blind is a long walk in, but a very remote location. I liked it as soon as I saw it. Lots of trees and brush for as far as you can see, making it look like ideal whitetail cover. I wasn’t in the blind for 20 minutes when the first deer arrived. It was two does with a tiny little button buck fawn. They barely started eating when a 5” spike showed up and ran them off the feed. They kept sneaking back, and he kept running them off, for more than thirty minutes. Finally he’d had his fill and moved off letting the does and fawn have a turn at last. They just finished and walked off when two more does with a larger button buck fawn showed up and the feeding routine continued. After they left several small spikes had their turn and finally just after the sun set behind the mountain a decent six point showed up.
The six point isn’t a shooter, but he was the biggest buck I’d seen thus far, and things were certainly looking up! He barely started feeding when I heard antlers busting brush and looked down the creek bed about 80 yards and saw an eight pointer on his way in. Now things were getting “interesting”! As the eight point worked his way to the blind I was mentally totaling up points. He wasn’t a “monster”, but he’d certainly exceed Pope & Young minimums which made him a definite “shooter”. I have to be honest, the heart started pumping faster than normal and the excitement level was right up there about as high as it gets. Now I just had to hope for a decent shot.
The buck worked his way to the bait site very slowly while the six pointer just kept an eye on him and kept feeding. Finally the eight point made it to the grain, put his head down, and started feeding. Trouble was he didn’t present a decent shot as he was facing right in my direction. With the bow half drawn I kept waiting for him to turn, but he didn’t seem interested. The six point had moved over to give the bigger buck room and was now looking in my direction a whole lot more than I would have liked.
This is when all sorts of thoughts start rushing through your mind. Will he turn and give me a shot? Will I be able to get drawn without spooking him or the other buck standing beside him? How bad will he jump the string if/when I do finally get a shot? The mental game continued while the buck just kept feeding like he didn’t have a care in the world. As I waited for the opportunity I hoped would come I saw another three deer approaching the feed from several directions. It was like someone had just rung the dinner bell and the deer were coming from every corner of the valley! I knew that once they all got to with-in 20 yards of my blind the chances of getting drawn undetected was going to drop to “zero”!
Finally the buck turned broadside to get a better look at all the other approaching deer. As he did I came to full draw. I don’t know if it was the movement, or perhaps a little sound, but the deer immediately went on “red alert”. The eight pointer didn’t seem to know what it was he didn’t like, but he sure didn’t like “something”! I rushed the shot, put the twenty yard pin on the center of mass behind the shoulder and let the string slip from my fingers all in one motion. It was the wrong thing to do! Steve told us to be sure to hold low as these deer will jump the string, but that little piece of wisdom failed to enter my mind! The arrow sailed harmlessly over the bucks back as all the deer busted out of there like the place was on fire.
I watched the eight pointer for a solid half hour as he circled the area trying to figure out what that strange noise was. Finally he moved off and I snuck out of the blind and down the trail as quietly as I could. Hopefully I’ll get another chance at him tomorrow, or the next day… one can only hope.
Back at “Dream Catcher” I got the full report from everyone else. Mark was the only other person to get a shot. He had the same six pointer come in he had seen yesterday and this time got the arrow off. Problem is he was shooting with his long bow tilted over way more than normal to clear the roof of the blind and his arrow went low. Finally our group got some shooting, and we both mmmmmmissed! Tomorrow will hopefully be a better day.
Day four of our ten day hunt is now “history”! I sat in the “Rub” blind again today hoping to have that eight pointer return for a second encounter. Mark went to the Turkey Creek blind I’ve been sitting for a change of scenery. I had the best day yet, but no shot opportunities. I had deer at my blind almost constantly from well before 8:00AM until 3:00PM, when I was finally able to eat my lunch. The six pointer that was with the eight point last night spent almost all day in sight of the blind. He came in just after 8:00AM and stayed for an hour and a half. When he wasn’t feeding he’d just walk around looking the place over. He didn’t seem at all bothered by the events of last evening, which I took as a very good sign.
Around 12:30 the six pointer returned and this time stayed with-in 45 yards of the blind until almost 3:00! He came to the feed several times, but mostly he seemed content to just lounge around the general area. 12-15 other deer came and went, but the eight didn’t show until 5:10PM. Finally, he did return! I was “pumped”! Trouble is he didn’t come to the feed. He circled around a bit than just ambled off down the creek bed like he wasn’t interested in the feed.
When he was out of sight a small spike entered the view from the right and proceeded to the feed pile, or what was left of it after all the day’s activity). The spike no sooner started to feed when I saw the eight pointer heading back up the trail in my direction. Would I get another shot after all?
He was in no hurry, but did seem committed to join the spike. I got ready and started talking to myself to make sure I didn’t rush the shot and that I held low! Closer he came, finally only ten more yards and he’d be at the feed…then for no apparent reason the little spike took off running with his white tail flagging an alarm! What caused this alarm, I could not tell, but the eight pointer followed that little buck right up the side hill away from the blind at a full run! They stayed there looking things over for a while, but ultimately the eight pointer kept moving on out of sight while the little guy came back to feed.
I had almost no shooting light left so I snuck out of the blind and again made by way out of the area as quietly as I could. Hopefully the eight point will return tomorrow and I won’t have my chances dashed by some little upstart like tonight.
Mark had an eventful day, but no shots. He had fifteen tom turkeys come in twice, as well as a small group of javalina. That action on top of ten to twelve small deer made the day go by quickly, but he would have liked to see a “shooter”!
Tomorrow I’ll be back at the “Rub” blind hoping to see my eight pointer and Mark is going to try a tree stand that was set two days ago in an area covered with fresh rubs and scrapes. Keep posted, hopefully we’ll have better news tomorrow.
Our fifth day of hunting saw a definite increase in activity! Part of it was the desire to use 2011 tags before they expired , and part of it was the new hunting strategy. Steve was finding that the majority of blinds had at least one trophy class buck coming in (as proven with the trail camera photos) but those big guys were feeding after dark. The guides started digging 4” deep trenches for the grain, and then covering any remaining grain at the end of the day with a piece of plywood and a large rock. That will substantially cut down on the night time feeding and hopefully get even the bigger bucks to feed during daylight hours. It seems to be working, but the practice was just started. We’ll have better results in a few more days.
I returned to the same blind that I’d seen the eight pointer the last two days, hoping he’d calm down enough to give me another chance. At 8:15 AM I saw him working his way down the hill toward the bait…. It was looking like this was going to be the day! He circled around a while unwilling to commit, until a 5” spike horn came down the hill and joined him. They both just looked around for the longest time, and then finally the spike headed in. As soon as the spike put his head down and started feeding the eight pointer marched in, pushed him aside and started to feed. Trouble was, he was angling slightly towards me and I didn’t like the shot angle.
As I sat there with my bow ready, I kept hoping he’d turn enough for a quartering away shot, and then let me get away with drawing on him without bolting out of there. The spike was standing just a few feet away from him and looking in all directions for any sign of danger. This was going to be tough! To make matters worse, I spotted another spike on his way into the feed, so there would soon be three pairs of eyes watching and three pairs of ears listening for any signs of trouble. It is amazing how jumpy these little deer are, and with three of them trying to pick up on any sound or movement it was going to be “interesting”.
When the second spike got within 20 yards of the bait the other two deer turned to check him out. That put the eight pointer broadside slightly quartering away, and both deer looking dead away from me. I drew my bow and found my anchor. I was pleasantly surprised to find that neither of the deer picked up on my actions and were still focused on the newly arrived spike. I settled my twenty yard pin in right behind the shoulder, held low, and let the string slip off my fingers.
The shot felt good, but I didn’t see the arrow impact. At the sound of the bow all deer exploded out of there. In the commotion I heard a solid hit. Mille-seconds later I saw the eight point about 40 yards away standing looking back at the blind. Then he started walking slowly to my right circling around to head back up the hill the way he had come. I watched him travel slowly about forty yards and then lost him over a slight rise covered with brush. He never came out the other side.
I figured I had him, but sat in the blind for an hour to make sure I gave it time. Besides I wanted to take a few pictures of the smaller bucks with the long lens camera. The two spikes were back at the bait posing for pictures with-in twenty minutes, but one picture with the camera with the auto winder and they were out of there. After an hour I got out of the blind and went over to look for my arrow. It was stuck in the ground behind the bait pile covered in blood. I then walked back to the last place I saw the buck standing figuring I’d either see him laying there or pick up the blood trail and take it from there.
My guide (Ross) was on his way, and should be there shortly, but I figured I’d get the tracking started. That proved to be a mistake! I never found either the buck or the blood trail where I expected them so I went back to the blind and waited for help. Four guys came to help pack out my buck, and ended up helping me look for him for a few hours. We never found a single spot of blood. We went back later with Steve’s lab “Nicko” and tried again, with no luck. Tomorrow we’ll search some more.
Mark didn’t see a shooter, but Travis shot a nice eight pointer at 7:30 in the morning that they found right away. Jeff shot a six point just at dark. They looked for him for a while, but couldn’t find him right away and decided to go back at first light this morning. Hopefully we’ll have additional deer pictures tomorrow, but for now at least we have Travis buck picture to share.
Back at it tomorrow.
Next up: Day 7