Sponsored by: Grim Reaper Broadheads

By: Brian Kightlinger

Over the past few years, I have had some great hunts with both of my children. My son, Samuel, age 14 has harvested a buck with a compound and a rifle but never with a crossbow. My daughter Abby, age 12, has had success with the crossbow and the rifle. But one thing we have never accomplished was for the three of us to all fill our tags in the archery season. We all hoped that 2018 would be the year to accomplish this goal.

Early in the spring of 2018, I watched as a local farmer plowed  the field across from my house. I walked over to ask what he was putting in for the year. I was hoping soybeans. He said beans in that field and the other 15 acre field on the property. He asked if I could help control the groundhogs, so the beans would have a chance. I agreed and walked back to my house with a huge smile on my face.

The weather grew warmer and the beans really took off. Seeing deer in the beans was a nightly occurrence during the warm summer nights. The kids and I kept binoculars near the window where each evening, as the sun was setting; we would sit in the air condition of the house and scout the different bucks that would come out to eat. As the summer ended and the bucks peeled off their velvet, we saw fewer and fewer bucks hitting the beans.

The first day of the PA hunting season was September 29th and neither of my kids really wanted to head out to hunt on the first day so I decided to hunt at a different farm, where I was after a large 9 point. Using my new SpyPoint Link Evo camera, I had hundreds of pictures of this giant hitting my mock scrapes. I was convinced that the odds were in my favor to see and possibly get a chance at this buck.

Arriving at the stand an hour before the sun, I waited quietly in the dark and talked with God. The sunrise was beautiful and the woods came to life quickly. I watched squirrels scurry on the forest floor below me and a Great Horned Owl landed in a tree across from my stand. Turkeys talked as they fed behind me in the thick cover. I left at 11, and knowing I would be back by 3:00, in the afternoon,  left my pack and bow in the tree. I knew they would be safe as the farm was private property.

Finding my way back to the stand, I added some pre-orbital gland lure to my mock scrape hoping  this would help bring the buck to within bow range. Climbing my Stealth Steps, I was able to get back into the stand and in minutes, the squirrels were back on the search for acorns and other food. The weather was cool and the sky clear. Conditions were perfect for deer to be on their feet early and I hoped the big 9 would come for a visit.

With little wind, I easily heard a deer coming my way. I turned to look and saw the Big 9 heading my way. I grabbed my bow and looked for a shot. The buck had no idea I was there and closed the distance to 10 yards. He stopped in one spot , stood there for over 5 minutes under 10 yards and I was unable to get a shot. The buck stood still and watched the squirrels run around the mock scrape he had been hitting daily. My mind raced looking for a way to slip an arrow into the buck. Not wanting to chance a deflection or bad hit I watched as he slowly walked back the way he came. My opening day was absolutely amazing.

Fall soccer kept us busy almost every day but we figured the first time we could hunt would be Columbus Day. I looked at the weather to see how the conditions would be for an evening hunt and it wasn’t favorable,  a high of 92 degrees with humidity. I left it up to the kids on whether they wanted to hunt or not.

Columbus Day finally arrived and I found out that my daughter didn’t want to sit out in the heat, but my son wanted to hunt the last part of the evening.

Arriving home from school around 3:00, I told Samuel that we would head out to the treestand around 5:30. At least by that time the heat and humidity would drop a little bit. Sam and I headed to the basement around 5:15 to dress in our lightest layers of camo and spray down with Nature’s Essence, Essence of Fall. 

We decided to take the perimeter path around the 15 acre bean field. It was hot and humid and both of us were sweating pretty badly. We decided to stop and spray down again as we would be getting close to the stand. As we were spraying down, I saw 5 does come out of the thick woods and head out into the bean, directly in front of the our stand. I was surprised the deer were on their feet in this heat so early. Maybe tonight was going to be a good night.

Doing our best to not spook the feeding does did no good. The two mature does in the group saw us moving along the wood line, and they led the yearlings away, out of the field. Sam and I continued to the stand, tucked away in the corner of the field. Sam headed out into the beans and used a stick to put a Buck Cage about 25 yards away from the stand.

Not long after we climbed into the stand, Sam saw movement in the woods. It was a small spike heading our way. More deer filtered out and I was speechless. It was 90 degrees and humid. The deer must have been very hungry!

The sun was dipping further behind the trees, shadows began to cover the field and time was running out on. Sam was now thinking about shooting a 7 point buck that was only 15 yards away but just as he was ready I saw an 8 point come out. The buck was feeding about 25 yards away, perfectly broadside. Sam leveled his crossbow and took the shot. I watched as the Grim Reaper blew through the buck. He took off for the woods and just inside the tree line he crashed.

Sam and his 8 point.

Sam and I were celebrating the excellent shot. We knew the buck was down, so we waited for the sun to set and the field to get dark. We did not want to spoke the other deer in the field that kept eating after the shot. I called my neighbor, Josh Ferraro who was willing to help us load the buck.

It was dark when Sam and I climbed down to recover his buck and take pictures. He was so excited and grinning ear to ear as he found his trophy. Josh arrived to help us load up the deer cart and pull it to his house. Sam tagged out a 90 inch 8 point on a night I never thought deer would be moving.

Now it gave Abby and me time to look for a buck for her. We spent a few evening in the stand and had a few great encounters with a small 7 point and a 4 point but she wanted a bigger buck. I was holding out for the Big 9 point closer to the rut but now focus was on Abby.

I promised Abby that I would take her out on October 22nd. The weather was perfect for us to sit in the same stand where Sam killed his buck. The deer were still hitting the beans and Abby was excited. We hurried home from school, dressed in our warm clothes as it was in the low 40’s with a high pressure system overhead. It was going to be a perfect evening.

Abby talked a mile a minute about a buck she hoped would pay us a visit. We arrived at the stand, Abby got herself situated and I put two Buck Cages in the beans filled with buck and doe urine. I then headed to the stand, climbed up, set up the video camera, and waited for the deer to move.

Action came quickly as Abby spotted a mature doe making her way toward the corner stand. Turning the camera on, I hoped the doe would come closer for a nice shot. The doe came directly to the stand and stopped 10 yards away. The crossbow went off and the Grim Reaper did its job as the doe ran a short distance and crashed. I captured  the event on video and there was still a lot of daylight left.

Abby gets her doe.

Returning to the stand after tagging the doe, Abby asked me if it was big. I told her “Very big” as I loaded her crossbow. The video turned out great and Abby wanted to watch it over and over. I told her we needed to watch the bean field.

Sitting quietly in the stand, we could hear a deer coming through the woods to our left. I could see a small buck heading our way. “I don’t care how big it is! I am going to shoot him if I get the chance!” She seemed to be serious, so I turned on the camera. The buck came to the tree line, worked a scrape and then headed into the beans. He never made it as Abby shot, hit the buck who went down. The buck got back on his feet and headed for the woods. I heard him crash soon after that. Abby was shaking and saying, “I just doubled, I just doubled!” I laughed, she kept shaking.

Make that a double.

Two deer down in less than an hour was quite a feat for Abby. She called her mom and Sam to spread the great news. We packed our gear and went to find the buck’s blood trail. Abby found the first spot of blood, and took the lead on the trail. She wanted me to hold her hand and help her take the trail so I did. Together we followed the blood to her buck. The buck was a tall spike that Sam and I saw the night he killed his 8 point. Abby was excited and now tagged out.  I had a few weeks to hunt my target buck.

Part II next

For more from Brian please go to this Monthly Column: Grim Reaper Broadheads.