Most of us know “that guy,” who works hard at something but just can’t catch a break, seems to have no luck but bad luck, or when things do finally seem to be coming together, they fall apart at the last moment. Maybe I’m describing you? In fact, all of us feel this way from time to time, especially when it comes to our hunting success.
Well, my brother from another mother, Levi, has been going through a long streak of “almosts” and “so closes” for several years now when it comes to bow hunting. He has been the luckiest rascal you will ever walk into the deer woods with when it comes to seeing nice bucks on our Maryland farm, but has yet to close the deal.
Levi first picked up a bow only a few short years ago and has since harvested two does (with 4 shots, but that’s a whole other story). He showed reluctance in the past to shooting young bucks and much to his credit, he let several opportunities pass by without releasing an arrow. But then again, some of the best bucks that we have seen on the farm over those years always seem to amble by Levi’s stand within 20 yards. Yet those arrows never seem to find their mark.
He’s my best friend, so I did what best friends do; gave him grief about his misses, had a few laughs over it, but deep down was pulling for him to finally break through and bag a buck. He had learned a lot about hunting over the years and was obviously doing things right. He was getting himself into the right position, keeping quiet, still, and scent free enough for the deer to come into range. He waited for the right moments to draw his bow undetected. It really just boiled down to something that all deer hunters have to learn to control, “buck fever.”
So after passing up a funky horned 6 point that literally fell asleep under his stand for an hour during the early part of the 2015 bow season, I told him to just forget about trophy hunting and shoot whatever buck comes close enough. Just to get the monkey off his back and build some confidence.
Later in the season, a big 8pt walks under Levi in one of our favorite locations, the “cherry stand” and unfortunately, same result. Then, a little later, a big, wide 4 point comes into another favorite “the pond stand.” This time Levi hits the buck! But, the shot was high and the deer was not recovered. I could tell that although he remained enthusiastic, Levi’s spirits were sinking with the idea of missing an opportunity, and sending a wounded deer off to die unrecovered. As luck would have it, I came up to hunt a few weeks later and saw the buck recovering from the wound in a thicket and we later got trail cam photos of him completely healed and healthy. So a big sigh of relief washed over both of us even though Levi would end another season without filling his buck tag.
So 2016 has finally arrived and we are back in the stand again chasing the whitetails we love so much. Levi has fully slipped into that underdog role and he was once again given a green light to shoot any buck that he wanted.
On the evening of September 24th, Levi and I were hunting about 300 yards apart at opposite ends of an alfalfa field. Dense thickets bordered the field on three sides and a dry soybean field was on the fourth. About 30 minutes before dark, I see a group of four bucks enter the field from the pine thicket directly between Levi and I’s positions. It appeared to be a spike, a small 4 or 5pt, basket racked 6pt, and the big 8pt that we had on trail cameras over the summer. They fed for only a few minutes before catching a little of my wind. They didn’t spook or become alarmed, but rather just changed direction and re-entered the pine thicket. Again as luck would have it, they turned back towards Levi’s position.
When the first buck appeared to Levi from the thick underbrush he was already within bow range. It was the small 4pt and Levi elected to let him walk as he fed around his stand. The second deer to appear was the basket racked 6 pt named “CC6” for being a carbon copy of another buck we had seen roaming the farm. This deer was too handsome for Levi to pass up. He drew his Cabela’s Diamond bow and released an arrow at the deer only 15 yards from his stand!
However, when Levi texted me, he said he was unsure of the shot. I told him to stay put until dark and I would meet up with him and we can see what we got. As I crossed those 300 yards I was hoping that we would find good blood as the deer had run into head-high brush and briars where even mortally wounded deer can disappear.
When I met up with Levi I saw the blood splatter less than three feet from his arrow still stuck in the ground. There was not a doubt in my mind and I reassured Levi that he had made a great shot! We found the buck only 60 yards from stand with both lungs shredded by his 2-blade Rage broadhead and it was all smiles and congratulations after that!
Everyone remembers the bucks they kill. It’s amazing how I can’t find my car keys half the time yet if you ask me about a rack on the wall from 20 years ago I can recall the details like it was yesterday. It’s a powerful memory and great experience, these moments we cherish in a treestand. I know the memory of this hunt will live long in Levi’s heart and mind and I feel very blessed to have been apart of it.
Congratulations Levi on a beautiful buck and for finally getting the monkey of your back! You deserve it buddy!