I was recently able to put my tag on a great buck I named “Garfield”. Here’s how it all went down, along with some lessons you can use in your next hunt.
Friday, November 4th – I was sitting in a ladder stand along the SW corner of a bedding area, just above a pond. We had a WNW wind, and my thought was that any bedded buck would travel out of the bedding area to scent check the cornfield I was sitting on. Hopefully he would cut the corner a bit tight and walk in front of me.
Near dark, I could hear a big animal getting out of his bed and splashing through some of the swamp water while he was breaking dry cattails. I was close and he was directly downwind of me! As the deer was coming toward me, I realized it was a big buck and readied for a shot. All I could do was watch out of the corner of my eye as this tall buck came directly to the base of my tree. He smelled the mixture of my pee and DUI without ever giving me a shot. That was encountered number one with this mystery buck I’d never seen before. I didn’t even have trail camera pictures of him, but I was now obsessed.
Monday, November 7th – I had just received two Rinehart Doloma decoys in the mail. I had ordered one buck and one doe, and I was excited to use them. This mystery buck taught me a great lesson that night. I set the decoys right in front of my treestand. Once again with a northwest wind it seemed logical that any buck would come out of his bed and enter the now picked corn field looking for a doe to harass. Well, I was sort of right. The same tall buck entered the field, already with a doe at about 5:30 pm, just as the sun was setting. Even though he already had company, he still came to investigate my buck/doe decoy spread. The problem was the doe he was with started to wander off and the buck stopped at about 40 yards behind some brush. I could not get him to come any closer with my grunt call and he wasn’t giving me a good shot. Eventually he realized the real doe was wandering off and he turned and trotted back up to her. Next time I use decoys I’m going to put them past me so that the deer has to walk even closer to me to investigate. That was encounter number two. I left thinking that buck must have nine lives. Hence the name Garfield the Cat (Garfield for short).
Friday November 11th- Veterans Day. As I was driving out to my stand with a good NW wind, I was scratching my head as to how I could kill Garfield. As if on cue, the overcast sky opened up, and a beam of sunlight shone down on a clump of box elder trees a bit north of my treestand. If I could sneak into these trees I would be closer to where Garfield generally enters the field. The location would put me downwind of the field but slightly upwind of the bedding area. Confident in my scent control, I had the strong urge to roll the dice and try to kill this buck from the ground. I believe that these types of sudden and persistent thoughts, whether related to hunting or life in general are from God. I figured I’d better pay attention. I put on my ScentBlocker Beast Ghillie suit, grabbed my new Bear Bruzer crossbow and tip-toed into my ground position super quiet. For good measure I squirted some DUI to my left and my right just in case any deer got downwind of me, they would be relaxed and not too suspicious.
Not long after I sat down, I could hear a buck grunting and splashing around behind me in the bedding area. I continued to just sit tight to the point I wasn’t even moving my head. My back was cramping up already, a bit sore from moving into my new home the few previous days, but I stuck it out knowing that I was close to this buck… I could sense it.
About an hour before dark, a small buck sneaked through behind and downwind of me, completely oblivious to my presence. My field of view was so limited so other than that small buck, I didn’t see much until after the sun had disappeared behind the trees. After what felt like an uncomfortable eternity, through the tall grass in front of me, I could make out the shape of a few deer in the cut corn field. A big, mature doe and nice wide 8 point were gently feeding their way through the cornfield but offered me no shot opportunity. I started to grunt and bleat to the best of my ability, hoping to get the shooter buck in close. Although he wasn’t Garfield, I would certainly not turn him down because this was a beautiful three year old 8 point. The preoccupied buck paid me no attention and continued feeding, eventually working away from me.
Feeling pretty defeated, I got on my knees to relax a bit, planning in my mind the next morning’s hunt when I heard a very loud ‘GRUUUNNNTTT’. The next few seconds are a blur in my mind, but I’m certain that I looked in the direction of the grunting buck through the grass to see Garfield’s tall rack working toward me, and he was close! So close I felt I could have reached out and grabbed his rack. He quickly stepped into the one and only shooting lane in front of me, looked my way and turned to walk into the field offering a nice quartering away shot. I took advantage and shot him at what I estimated to be 5-8 yards. I later paced it off and he was exactly 7 yards away from me on the ground when I shot, which was an absolute adrenaline rush.
The buck expired quickly in the field with no tracking job necessary. All in all this was an absolutely incredible hunt and I’m still riding the emotional high from it. God has blessed me in so many ways and my newest addiction is hunting whitetails eye to eye. I cannot wait to grab the Beast and my Bruzer try and kill another mature buck from the ground.
For more please go to: Close Enough