As the first hint of daylight began to reach out across the countryside, I was standing at my parent’s backdoor. Still getting my gear together, camo on, and discussing with my friend and DEER30 team member, Levi, our best chances to bag a deer. We were late again. We finally sling our bows over our shoulders, wish each other luck, and I begin the walk to one of my favorite stands on the farm.
My father and I had built a wooden treestand when I was a kid, in a small ash tree below an old pond on the Maryland farm I grew up hunting. It was the perfect setup for an all season ambush. From a height of about 20 feet, I could overlook a small agriculture field, the south end of a large hay-field, and the brushy corner where they meet. It seemed like a short 16 years ago since we hung that old wooden stand which has since been replaced by a modern steel lock-on, the hay and Ag. fields are both cut corn, and the deer sign is incredible.
One winder at a time and I was nearly to the top when I look out and see a buck following the far treeline at 200 yards and closing. I eased the rest of the way into the stand, pulled my bow up, and waited anxiously, but this buck ducks into the creek bottom.
I then spend the next two hours enjoying the cold November morning. The 24 degree temperature has blanketed everything with a thick layer of frost and has the deer on their feet. I watch as several bucks take turns chasing a hot doe literally in circles around my stand. One was a handsome 6 pt. with a tall, brightly polished rack. Despite my efforts to stop the buck, he had something else on his mind and continued his enthusiastic pursuit.
The fields were crawling with deer. Does passing through with their little ones as they grab a few more groceries before heading to bed down for the day, and bucks checking each one’s readiness. Suddenly, a lone doe appears across the cut cornfield. Then, as expected, another buck shows up behind her. Only unlike the 1 1/2 – 2 1/2yr olds that I have been watching all morning, this buck was huge, in the body at least. The old buck chased the doe across the field but never in my direction. So I had to sit and watch as a deer the size of a cow lumbered after does less than 100 yards away.
His broken rack and noticeable limp did not slow him down. But then the doe slips out of the field with the buck on her heels. I thought for sure that this was the end of my hunt. After a few minutes, I get a text message from Levi, letting me know that he had not been as fortunate in seeing deer and was going to head my way. Before I could respond, a broken horned 3 point stepped from the creek bottom and walked directly under my stand. I replied, asking Levi to wait a few minutes as I did not want to spook the young buck. Once he walked off, a basket racked 6 point shows up following the same trail. I decide to have a little fun with him, and grunted a few times. The young buck stopped dead in his tracks and came back to investigate. As I watch him circle me trying to get downwind, I look up, and the big broken up 10 point is back and headed straight to me!
I range my first shot opportunity and its 30 yards. No problem. As the buck hits the opening, I can hear him gasping for breath, exhausted from his pursuit. He is grunting with every other step and getting closer by the second. My heart is about to pound out of my chest! Unfortunately, he is facing me with his approach. Finally, he ducks under some briars and begins walking my trail to my stand. At 5 yards, I draw my bow, give a little “mack,” and whack! A perfect hit! The buck whirls and busts back out into the field, staggers, and falls just beyond the pond. What a buck!
As I am watching the buck go down, I notice Levi sitting on a tall mound of dirt overgrown with brush and behind the land owner’s barns only 70 yards from the final resting place of my buck. He later told me that he watched the buck cross the field, seen me draw, release, and heard the impact from that mound!
The ancient buck had a heavy 5 points on his left with a broken main beam and a completely broken rack on his right. But the real story is the size of this deer. We estimated that this old brute was over 250 lbs on the hoof and field dressed at 210 lbs. That his huge for Maryland! I know that Levi and I are thankful that the deer ran towards where we could get the truck to him, leaving only a 80 yard drag. We were still winded, but I love it!