‘Party’ Hunting

Hunt Blog Weekend 2017

For the past four years the Hunt Blog team has got together for a group bow hunt during the first weekend of November in Southwestern Ontario. We typically hunt this weekend because it is the last weekend before the shotgun season opens in our area and weather permitting, it usually coincides with the start of the rut in our area making for some great action.

Our hunts take place on three different public land properties and as any hunter who hunts these public access areas knows, it can be very challenging. Team member James is the organizer of these hunts and lives in close enough proximity to all of these properties which he scouts all year long. He runs nine trail cameras and spends many hours during the months leading up to the hunt with boots on the ground.

This year was no exception and several weeks prior to the hunt James began circulating trail camera pics to the team of some very nice bucks and numerous mature does. Once James figures he has the deer patterned its time to start trimming out existing stand locations and prepping new ones. For the most part the group hunts from portable climbers but we do have several permanent ladder stands in place that produce deer year after year. As we have stated in the past all the team members love their venison and the deer population in our area is very high so we never hesitate to take a nice doe or two should the opportunity present itself. We are meat hunters not trophy hunters but that being said we have taken some very nice bucks from these properties over the years.


We were very excited for this year’s hunt because it was going to be the first year that our entire team of seven hunters was going to be able to make it so we decided to use a family cottage about 40 minutes from our hunting properties as our home base. We welcomed the 40 minute drive in the morning as an opportunity to talk about the previous days hunt and strategize for the one we were about to embark on.  Coming up with a strategy in advance of the hunt is key to our success but the beauty of using climber stands is it allows the guys the flexibility to make adjustments in stand locations due to changing weather, changing wind directions and observed deer movement from the previous day. 

This year day one of the hunt took place on a rainy Thursday afternoon at a place we call “The Swamp”. This is a large property with a mixture of hardwoods, pines and some swampy wet areas surrounded by agricultural lands. Although we have had some past success on our opening hunts, we generally see this first hunt as more of an observation outing to gain a handle on where the deer are moving, feeding and bedding. For this reason we try to spread out our stand locations throughout the property to maximize our chances of locating the deer. Such was the case with this hunt and we weren’t set up in the stands more than half an hour when reports started to circulate over the airwaves of several deer being sighted at various different locations including several bucks seen chasing does. This was good news as it looked like we had once again timed our hunt to coincide with the start of the rut.

The first afternoon/evening hunt concluded with eight different deer being spotted including 3 mature bucks, one missed shot on a young buck and several disappointing close calls. With heightened excitement we headed to the cottage to dry out our gear, share with one another what we had observed and strategize for the upcoming all-day Friday hunt. The forecast was for the rain to subside over night which it did and the temperature was to drop to 5 degrees Celsius with light NW winds which were the perfect conditions for this property. Further group discussions of seeing numerous bucks chasing does confirmed in our minds that the rut was in full swing so we all agreed that we would stay in the stands until noon, break for a short lunch and then head back in by 1:00 pm. With a long day in front of us it was early lights out and up and at it at 4:00 am.

On Friday we woke to a perfect morning with clear star filled skies, colder temperatures and light winds. As we drove to the property my son James and I discussed that with the rut in full swing and the weather having cleared the deer would probably have been out all night long chasing and feeding. Sure enough not 5 km from our property our thoughts were confirmed by the sad sight of a road killed doe that had been hit sometime during the night. 

We reached the bush and gathered for a brief discussion with the other guys to confirm that we would go with our previous nights plan for the older guys to setup in the ladder stands and the younger team members would make the trek into the bush with their climbers and setup on known deer runways leading to bedding areas. As daylight broke the bush awakened with the sounds of birds, turkey’s gobbling and squirrels scurrying in the leaves all around us.

Fifteen minutes into the hunt my phone vibrated and it was my son James texting me to report he had just missed a beautiful 9 point at 18 yards!  I could read and feel the disappointment in his words as he explained that he was just starting to film his morning dialogue for the hunt when this bruiser surprised him and came quietly walking in from behind him at first light. A rookie mistake by a seasoned hunter for sure but it happens to all of us sooner or later. Adding insult to injury he did get the shot on film and some short footage of this great buck running off unscathed. Later when reviewing the video it appeared that in his excitement and attempt to get the shot on film, he rushed his shot and missed low!

We broke for lunch at noon as planned and the disappointment on the face of James was clear as the skies above us! We had all seen deer that morning and when we added up the tally we had missed 4 excellent opportunities and seen a total of 10 deer between us. After gathering our composure we licked our wounds, or lack there of, and headed back into the stands.

Unfortunately the disappointment continued as two of the guys had deer standing right under their stands when they returned and couldn’t get a shot. I remember sitting in my stand that afternoon and thinking “what the heck was going on” because these guys can all shoot! I also remember thinking to myself just give me a shot. There was a brief lull in the action and then around 2:30 pm the bush came alive again and my phone buzzed with numerous text messages from other guys about deer being spotted but no shots. Finally at 3:00 pm I got a text from my son indicating that John who has never shot a deer in the 6 years he has been hunting had hit a buck that ran off.

Around 4:00 pm John climbed down out of his stand and found his bolt that had a bit of white hair, a bit of blood and some fatty tissues on it. Not a good sign as it indicated either a low shot or a shot in the rear but after a brief search John was able to find some blood and was tracking it.

An hour later James called me to tell me that John was still on blood and that he had found several spots with pooled blood where the buck had stood or bedded briefly. From the description of the shot and the amount of blood John was finding I advised James to tell John to stop tracking the buck because he was pushing it and with the fading light the deer had the advantage. The temperature was supposed to drop overnight so we agreed that if not pushed any further the buck may stiffen up and lie down for the night and hopefully we could find it in the morning.

Obviously we were concerned about coyotes finding it first but it was a chance we would have to take so John marked the last blood spot.

We all gathered back at the trucks disappointed at the opportunities missed but none of us more upset than John after wounding his first deer. After listening to his story we all agreed that there was a chance he might find the deer in the morning and so we decided to leave it overnight. I told John back at the cottage that he certainly wasn’t the first hunter to wound the first deer he ever shot at and we were all very impressed at the great tracking job he had done with very little blood to follow. We assured him that he had done the right thing by backing out and I had a good feeling for him. I imagine he wasn’t alone with his sleepless night because I know that the guys that had also missed were equally disappointed with their results.

The next morning we headed back out under cold clear skies and as James and I drove along we couldn’t help but discuss our disappointment with the previous days poor shooting. I tried hard to keep James positive but after two close encounters and uncharacteristic misses he was feeling pretty low. When he dropped me off I assured him that today would be different and with the number of sightings we were having things were bound to change. James agreed and in we went for our Saturday morning hunt. 

I had a very long walk into the stand so I took my time getting in and in doing so I couldn’t help notice that several of the existing scrapes had been touched up over night and one of the rubs on the way in had been absolutely torn up by what had to be a decent buck. About twenty yards from my stand my headlamp caught the glowing eyes of a deer not more that 15 yards from my stand! With a loud snort wheeze the buck took flight and I remember thinking to myself “here we go again with the bad luck!”

I climbed up in my stand and as darkness lifted I realized that the buck had been sniffing the scent pad I had placed out the day before. My stand was tactfully located on a convergence of 3 heavily travelled deer runways at the end of a ATV trail that skirted the bush and opened into a cut corn field. A perfect setup for intercepting deer moving from there nightly feeding area back to their beds.

Fifteen minutes into the hunt I looked down the trail where I had walked in and spotted a big bodied buck with his nose down following the trail I walked in on. In anticipation of this I had earlier sprayed my boots with Tinks Doe in Heat before I got on the trail and it had obviously worked. I grabbed my Excalibur and slowly got it into position as the 9 point continued to walk towards me. At 30 yds he stopped and checked the wind but I knew I had the advantage. He licked his nose several times and then looked right at the scent pads I had hanging in the trees 15 yards directly in front of him. I calmly watched as he started to move off the trail in their direction but after a few steps he suddenly stopped.

I raised my bow and put my crosshairs on him. I had him ranged at 30 yards and he was standing broadside but there was a lot of branches crossing in front of his vitals. I was convinced he was going to walk over to my scent pads so I passed on this questionable shot in anticipation of a clear one. He took two more steps forward and I thought game on and took off the safety but just as I did, he decided to turn to his left and started walking away from me. He continued on this path and never gave me a shot. I shook my head in disappointment but with one wounded deer to follow up on already, I was certainly not going to take the chance on wounding another by shooting through some brush.

I lowered my bow and hung it in the tree beside me and was just about to text James and tell him what had just happened when he sent me a text to say Jimmy had just harvested a 4 point. I quickly called James and told him what had just gone down at my location and we both agreed that now that Jimmy had broken the ice it was “game on” and our luck was about to change. Little did we know how true that statement would be when not 5 minutes later I got a call from Pierre that he had just shot a nice doe at 15 yds and it was down right in front of him. I congratulated him and told him to stay put and continue hunting as we still had tags to fill.

With everything that was going on I had totally forgot about the wounded deer from the night before until now so I called James to let him know about Pierre’s success. I knew James would be excited but when he answered his phone he was more excited than I had expected. Apparently while all this had been going on John had gone back to where he left the blood trail from the evening before, found more blood and walked up on the 6 point. It was bedded down and when it got up to move off he dropped it on the spot.

We both commented that we couldn’t believe what had already transpired and it was only 9:00 am. John’s buck was going to be a long drag out of the bush so James and Ryan were going to help him with that. Jimmy had recovered his buck and was in the process of field dressing it so I told James that Herb and I would go and give Pierre a hand with his doe. I ended my call from James and was about to call Pierre when he called me instead.

I told him to hang tight as the group now had three deer down so he should continue to hunt until Herb and I got over to assist him. It was at this point that he started to laugh and asked me how many doe tags we had. I told him we still had one more and he said “not any more!” I thought he was joking but he wasn’t. He had just shot another nice doe at 12 yds that walked into his lane and he had put that one down too.

It was at that point that I called James and we made the call then and there to stop the hunt even though we still had a couple buck tags left. With 4 deer on the ground we had a lot of work ahead of us and we wanted to get them back to camp and start butchering. That afternoon and evening was spent hauling deer out of the bush, butchering deer and celebrating our success and joking even harder at our not so successful encounters. 

Second Chance Buck

My 2017 archery deer hunt was one of my most exciting seasons ever and I can attribute this to the fact that I retired in July which allowed me the opportunity to get more prepared than ever. It also meant that during the season I could be in the field a lot more on weekdays when hunter pressure was at a minimum which made for some exciting hunts. To top it off I also moved to Owen Sound which afforded me far more opportunities to hunt but also meant that I would be hunting properties that were new to me. Learning new properties is always exciting especially not knowing the potential of what these new stomping grounds might hold. As experienced hunters know, hunting new property is truly exciting but it usually takes about 2 seasons to figure out a property before you can hunt it to its full potential. The Owen Sound areas proved to be just that providing me with a few close calls but more importantly a wealth of local knowledge that I hope I will benefit from in the 2018 season.

Fortunately, I also have a very understanding wife who totally supports my love for the outdoors and especially my passion for whitetail hunting so when I decide at the spur of the moment that I am going to make a field trip to hunt some of my old stomping grounds with my long distance hunting buddies she is very understanding. This was the case on several hunts this year and one in particular in November.

October was a very warm month which as bow hunters know can make for difficult hunting. Due to this the leaves stayed on the trees for the entire month and without any cool weather the deer didn’t come out much in the daytime hours. It remained this way right up until the end of the month but as luck would have it a cold period set in on the last week and this triggered some rutting activity. The timing couldn’t have been better for the Hunt Blog team as we had planned our group hunt for the first week in November and the conditions were perfect. On our Hunt Blog weekend our group of seven hunters managed to take 4 very nice deer with our bows and saw more than 30 deer in a 3-day hunt. It was an exciting hunt filled with lots of ups and downs and you can find that hunt story in another article on our website. I personally wasn’t able to harvest a deer on that weekend hunt but the time spent with my son and my old hunting buddies was priceless.
A few days after that hunt the rut really went into high gear and with tags still in my pocket I hit the bush hard in my neck of the woods. Although I had a few close calls I came up empty handed. I was sitting at home on a Saturday morning deciding trying to decide where and when I would hunt next when I received a call from my hunting buddies Herb and Pierre wanting me to come down and hunt with them in our old stomping grounds in Caledon.

With my wife’s encouragement I was off the next morning. The next day Herb and I were in our stands early and although the conditions were excellent we saw nothing the first couple of hours. Around 9:00 am Herb had a small 4 pt enter the bush from the north end but after wandering around aimlessly for half an hour he walked off. Herb’s stand is a ladder stand placed in a pine tree at the south end of a valley that runs through the bush. The valley is more of a depression with 20 foot rises on the side and is about 40 yards wide running the full length of the bush. It narrows to form a pinch point at the stand location and we have shot several nice bucks out of it in the past including a 9 pt bruiser I harvested in 2012.

Around 10:45 am I was talking to Herb on the radio about breaking for lunch around noon when he spotted another nice buck enter the bush. He came in near the spot that the earlier buck had used but this time he was moving up the valley floor in Herb’s direction. We went to radio silence and at exactly 11:00 am I heard the unmistakeable sound of Herb’s Excalibur crossbow. The buck was a large bodied 8 pt had walked up the valley floor directly to Herb stopping several times to feed along the way. Herb watched and waited patiently and at 30 yds the buck turned broadside offering a perfect shot. Herb is an excellent shot and he can make this shot in his sleep so he shoulder his bow and sent the bolt in flight! But something went wrong when his bolt completely missed its intended target.

The deer ran about 10 yds and stopped, looked around and then slowly walked off not really showing much concern for what just happened. Herb and I met back at the truck around 12:30 and Herb was feeling very down on himself for the missed opportunity. Whether it was hunter error or a hit twig we weren’t sure but the good news was we had a nice buck on the property and we didn’t think he was too spooked based on his calm reaction to the missed shot. We climbed back in the stands for the afternoon hunt but the evening hunt was uneventful. Unfortunately, Herb had an appointment to go to the next morning and couldn’t hunt but Pierre had a couple of days off and would be joining me in the morning. That evening I joked with Herb and Pierre that I was going to shoot that buck out of Herb’s stand in the morning. Herb is a great sport and said go for it buddy.

The weather the next morning was the same as the day before with clear skies, cold temperature and very light winds. I was set up early in Herbs stand and Pierre was about 200 yds to my west on the edge of the bush overlooking a field. At 9:00 am I was talking with Pierre when the same small 4 pt from the day before came into the bush at the same spot that Herb had spotted him the day before. He followed the same route through the bush but offered no shot. I remember saying to Pierre lets hope the 8 pt from yesterday follows his little brother. A short time later I checked my watch and it was 10:55 so I texted Pierre and joked with him to get ready. Not 10 minutes later I was watching the north end of the bush when a heard a twig snap to my right. I slowly glanced over and there was the 8 pt. This time however he had come in from the south and now he was directly across from me and starring in my direction.

My EXCALBUR was in my lap but I couldn’t move a muscle because the buck had now realised he was in the exact same vicinity as the day before and he was on high alert. He was stopped in his tracks and I watched as he licked his nose over and over again checking the air while scanning his surroundings. He was now looking directly in my direction but luckily for me he wasn’t looking up. He stood there for a couple of minutes and then took two steps forward which put his head behind a tree. This gave me an opportunity to raise my bow to my shoulder. Although he was completely broadside he had slash crisscrossing his vitals and I had no shot.

He remained where he was for several minutes which gave me an opportunity to scan the area in front of him for a shot. I looked a few steps ahead of him and picked out a small opening in the brush where I thought he might step into. I raised my bow and concentrated hard through my scope to find a good spot for a shot which I did. As I peered over the top of my scope he started to move and I was just about to let out a bleat call when he stopped. His vitals where now perfectly filling my scope so I sent the bolt flying in his direction. I watched through my scope as my EASTON bolt tipped with a 125 grain RAGE broadhead flew straight through the opening in the brush and hit just behind the front shoulder. The buck let out a sharp grunt and staggered into a tree. Once he regained his balance he started to run off with the LUMINOCK sticking out his side. Although I didn’t get a pass through I could tell he was going far. He ran full out for about 50 yds and then stopped. He stood there briefly and then he started to wobble and as soon as he started to run again he went down.

In my excitement I couldn’t help but think what time is it? I checked my watch and it was 11:07 am. “WOW!” … He had come in exactly at the same time as the day previous only from the other direction. Before I could even call Pierre he sent me a text asking me if I just shot! I called him immediately and the celebration started. We both commented that Herb wasn’t going to believe what just happened and that I just shot his buck out of his stand at the exact same time he had missed it the day before. Although I could see the buck lying motionless in the valley about 60 yds from my stand we decided to wait for half an hour to get down. Pierre walked down to see me and together we walked up on him. He was a wide short tined 8 pt with a good size body. We immediately phoned Herb and he didn’t pick up so we left a message. About a half an hour later while we were taking some pictures my phone rang and it was Herb. He asked if we were kidding but he knew full well we don’t kid like that. I sent him a picture and he confirmed that the was the buck he had missed the previous day.

Greg with his nice 8 point.

I know I am not the only hunter that has one of these types of stories to tell about a missed opportunity and getting a second chance but, when it happens to you, it seems like a dream come true. Its even better when its you that is the successful hunter.
Story by:
Greg Mather

Public Land Bruiser

Ryan is one of our newest HuntBlog pro staffers and also one of our most eager to learn about all aspects of the hunt including the characteristics of the Whitetail deer, the fine art of bow hunting and the tactics needed to be a successful whitetail bow hunter. After every hunt Ryan is the one guy on our team who can be counted on to stay back and listen to all the stories of the hunt until the last embers have burned down on the campfire. It’s one thing to be a good listener but this combined with his investigative nature has quickly turned him into a successful hunter. He treats every hunt as a learning experience and he never stops asking questions of the other hunters on our team. Finally he does an excellent job of employing these learnings to the field and enjoys sharing his own encounters with the guys in hunt camp.

The 2016 fall hunt was to be Ryan’s second full season of deer hunting and he was eager to put what he had learned the previous fall to the test. Last year he had several close encounters but with no success. I remember talking to him the night before our 2016 HuntBlog weekend and I could feel the excitement in his voice as he asked me numerous “what if” and situational questions. I answered every question the best I could but concluded our talk with … “you know Ryan pretty much every Whitetail encounter you have will be different and for the most part you learn more from the deer you don’t shoot than the one that you do” so take in everything and make a mental note of what did and didn’t work.

As luck would have it we were blessed with excellent weather on the first weekend of November and the rut was in full swing. We had six of our team members in the bush for the entire weekend and saw 34 deer. We managed to harvest two Bucks and a Doe from three different public land tracts spread across the Middlesex counties near London Ontario. Ryan’s hunt however was by far the most exciting of all of us. During the first two mornings Ryan was definitely the busiest of all of us as he had the opportunity to take 3 shots at three different deer. This was amazing in itself as most bow hunters are happy to get one shot in an entire season. Unfortunately for Ryan something came between him and success on each of these chances. On the first two opportunities he had some unseen twigs between him and the deer resulting in two deflections and two misses. The third was just a clear case of “buck fever” on a nice 8 pt which lead to a shaky aim and a dead pine tree. His misfortune quickly made him the butt of most of the jokes in the camp. One in particular was the renaming of the stands he was hunting that were formerly known as the “killing stand”. These were now being dubbed by the other pro staffers as the “shooting stand”. Ryan is a good sport and he laughed harder than all of us at the jokes but deep down I am sure the frustration was mounting.

To his credit perseverance paid off late in the morning on the second day of the hunt when he was finally able to harvest a very nice doe on his fourth opportunity. When Ryan radioed the group that he had shot a nice Doe we were all very excited for him. The end result of our team weekend bow hunt was a very successful hunt on three different public land parcels.

Notching the tag on his first ever whitetail.

One parcel in particular that weekend proved to be something out of this world when it came to deer sightings as we saw 26 different deer over a short two day period. This is a very large parcel of land and it comprises some of the dirtiest, thickest and most difficult bush to access that our team hunts during the season. For these same reasons it has also been our most productive area over the last five years. Adding to the difficulty is that this WMU has several shotgun and muzzleloader seasons that split up the bow season into 3 separate seasons and as anyone who has bow hunted after the orange army knows, this generally results in the deer getting pushed pretty hard and they usually move out of the area altogether.

This at least is what we thought had happened in years gone by. We talked about this at length after last season but after scouring through google and topo maps of the area we came to the conclusion that the deer couldn’t have just vanished, perhaps they had gone nocturnal or better yet they may have just taken up residence in the thickest part of the swamp. With that thought in mind we made a conscious decision in the spring to scout out locations deeper into the interior of this bush. We made a point of venturing into spots where only a whitetail and a dedicated hunter would dare to venture and this proved to be very productive. The only drawback to hunting these snarly areas was that most of our prime stand locations would require a 40 to 60 minute walk to access them and in some cases required the hunter to either wear or carry in waders for crossing creeks and navigating through swampy areas.

Dragging a big deer out would also be an issue but we decided we would deal with that when the time came. On the positive side we knew that few public land hunters would try to access these spots. Further scouting revealed a great deal of good deer sign and from the number of runways we found, we quickly realized we may have located the home stomping grounds of several mature bucks. We completed our assessment by placing several trail cameras throughout the area and over the summer our suspicions were confirmed with pictures of some very nice bucks in velvet.

Fast forward now to December 2nd and on this hunt only Ryan, James Mather and I were able to hunt. A second Muzzleloader season had just ended and James who hunts the property more than any of us was still having doubts about the deer being around. He works in the area and commented that when he drove by that week he had seen a lot of hunters in and around the area. For this reason we decided to hunt a different area in the morning and although we saw a couple of deer and lots of sign, I couldn’t help but think we should be at the other location.

The three of us had a lengthy discussion about this over lunch and I kept pushing the fact that I felt we should be hunting the thick stuff. Eventually we came to an agreement and off we went to hunt the swamp. When we got there I was pleased to see that one of the fields bordering the bush still contained cut corn and because we had missed a mature buck there earlier in November, I told the guys that the “old man” was going to hunt the food source and let the young guys make the trek into the thick stuff. As this story unfolds this would prove to be a great decision on all accounts. By 2:00 pm I was setup on the ground in a brush pile at pinch point with the cut corn in front of me. Before settling in I had quickly scouted the perimeter of the field and confirmed to Ryan and James that based on the number of fresh tracks I found, we most certainly had plenty of deer still in the area. James also confirmed them finding fresh scrapes and rubs on the way into their stand locations so we were all on high alert.

The guys had packed in their climbing stands and managed to slowly and quietly work their way into one of the thickest areas of the bush and were now set up about 150 yds apart. With gusting and swirling winds we knew there was a good chance of getting winded but having worked so hard to get into our spots it was a chance we would have to take. Around 3:45 pm I received a text message from James saying they had just had two Does walk between him and Ryan but unfortunately no shot was offered. I was about to respond to James text when 3 Does made their way into the corn field approximately 250 yds away. Unfortunately they fed away from me and moved out of sight.

Although a big buck was the primary goal, we had also agreed to take a mature Doe if the opportunity presented itself. Around 4:20 pm I received another text from James saying that they had just seen two more Doe’s take the same path between them as the others but again they were out of range. Time was ticking and although we were excited about the number of deer we had all seen, we were also getting anxious because we were starting to lose valuable daylight. At 4:40 pm I suddenly felt my phone vibrate with several text messages in a row. I scrambled to grab my phone and read a text message from James indicating that Ryan had just shot at a huge buck. Just at this instance I looked up into the field to see four more Does followed by a nice 8 pt Buck. This time they were working their way towards me so I quickly texted James to see if Ryan’s Buck was down. James texted right back with “I certainly hope so because I just passed on two nice does at 20 yds”.

I waited patiently as the deer in the field worked their way to me. It was James to confirm that Ryan’s Buck was down and it was a monster! The good news was the Buck had dropped within 20 yds of where Ryan had shot at him. The bad news was, that they had taken my advice and set up in the thickest, dirtiest part of the bush and the drag out was going to be something of a nightmare!

The plan was for Ryan to meet me at the trucks where we would unload our gear and make our way back to James who was going to gut the deer. We were both two miles away from the truck so this took a while and by the time we got to the trucks we were already tired and overheated. Fortunately the adrenaline from the hunt and the excitement in Ryan’s voice and face made this a hardship that was easy to overcome. Together we made our way back to James and Ryan’s trophy. By the time we got back to the “killing stand”, James had the Buck gutted and we were ready to start transporting him back, but not before we took a few pictures, exchanged a few more congratulatory hugs and listened to Ryan’s story.

According to Ryan the Buck had come in from the opposite direction that the Does had come from but was walking on the same trail. Unfortunately it looked like he was also going to stay well out of range but he turned and started to head towards Ryan. As he approached, Ryan got a glimpse of his hardware and quickly realized that this was a bruiser of a Buck. With fading light the Buck approached to 55 yds then stopped in some thick cover. Ryan waited patiently for him to move forward and offer him a clear shot but the Buck slowly turned back and it looked like he was going to walk off. Ryan shoots an Excalibur and knows the importance of target shooting so he had often practiced this 55 yd shot and was confident in making it under controlled conditions. However, blurred branches caused by fading light and the nervousness caused by a trophy Buck standing broadside behind them was far from controlled conditions.

Things were also happening a lot faster than Ryan expected so when the Buck gave him a small window of opportunity he took it. Unfortunately the bolt clipped a branch on its way to the target and deflected off line. He watched as the buck jumped a couple of times and then stopped. He then looked around and it appeared as though he had no idea what had just happened. Unfortunately before Ryan could re-cock his bow he walked off. All this time James had heard Ryan shoot and had been texting him for an update.

Ryan reached for his phone and was about to phone James when he heard a branch snap to his left. He looked up and there was the same 9 pt coming back towards him on a slightly different trail this time and this was going to offer a closer shot. Ryan quickly reached in his pocket for his cocking aid which was in a tangled mess. Somehow in his fumbling excitement he managed to unravel it and attempted to re-cock his bow. His movement however alerted the Buck who stopped and gazed in Ryan’s direction. He continued to cock his bow and as the string engaged it made a “click”.

The Buck took notice of the noise and began to move his head around searching for where it had come from. At this point Ryan was hesitant to even move but he remembered some advice he had heard from some of the older guys that if you move nice and slow you can sometimes get away with it as long as you are high enough in the tree. Ryan was 20 feet high in the tree and figured it was now or never so he slowly turned and reached for another bolt from his quiver. He slid the bolt in and turned to look at the Buck. They immediately locked eyes and Ryan realized the Buck had made him and the stare down was on. Ryan stood motionless as the Buck moved his head up and down in an attempt to get Ryan to move but he wisely didn’t budge.

For a brief second the Buck let his guard down and dropped his head. With one swift movement Ryan was able to lift his bow and center the crosshairs of his scope on his vitals. As he looked through the scope he still had branch issues and needed the Buck to take a couple of steps before he would have a shooting window. With his phone vibrating in his pocket the Buck took the two fatal steps he needed to take and Ryan released the bolt. The bolt found its mark between the branches but struck the Buck a bit high. Fortunately the Buck dropped on the spot signaling a spine shot. Ryan quickly reloaded and administered a lethal lung shot and his trophy Buck quickly expired. He shakenly climbed down out of the stand and immediately called James back to explain the three shots and describe what the heck had just gone on? After a long discussion we could only think that the reason the Buck came back was that maybe one of the Does that had passed by earlier may have still been in estrus.

Ryan With his wide 9 point

We stood for a few more minutes longer looking down in awe of this beautiful beast but now the work was about to begin. I have to say I felt pretty helpless as the two young guys struggled to drag the 225 lb Buck the two miles back to the truck. The drag was made worse by having to cross two small creeks and trying not to drag the deer through the dirty water. It’s nice to be young and strong and I give these guys credit as they managed to lift and carry this huge bodied deer across both creeks. For the rest of the drag I remember feeling like a dogsledder chanting encouragement to his team.

3 pretty happy bow hunters

The HuntBlog crew enjoy getting together often to tell past hunt stories around the camp fire but this is truly one that will be repeated over and over again. Many hunters like ourselves don’t always have the luxury of hunting private land so our suggestion to you is simple, in heavily hunted areas go where other hunters will not. The Buck was a heavy beamed 9 pt with some junk around the base of his brow tines. We green scored him at 155 2/8” Gross with an impressive 23 3/8” inside spread and he weighed 225 lbs. Plans are to have him rescored when the drying period is over and Ryan has decided on a Euro Mount from Advanced Taxidermy.

Thank you Advanced Taxidermy!

Story by Greg Mather

The First Hunt Is The Best Hunt

Time and time again I have experienced where, the first time you hunt a stand is the best and the 2016 season proved this point again. TheHuntBlog team had put a great deal of preseason planning into our set-ups and done an excellent job of getting the stands up early so we could back off and let the deer get accustomed to their presence.

As luck would have it fellow Prostaffer Herb Waliczek shot a nice 6 pt Buck opening day from a ladder stand we hand set up just two weeks before the opener on the edge of a clover field.

On the third weekend of the 2016 season I had the pleasure of joining my son James down in the Huron County Ontario area for a hunt in a location that he had only hunted once before but had been successful at filling his buck tag in 2015. The location was situated in the middle of a prime agricultural region with a mix of corn and soya bean fields surrounding a small 20 acre bush with a river meandering through it.

This hunting location is on public land and we both had the good fortune of being able to arrange time off work to hunt it on a Friday instead of a weekend which we figured would certainly help our chances. We were setup early and waited patiently for sunrise but unfortunately by 10:30 am, all we had seen was a lone coyote that came out briefly into the cut soya bean field.

We decided to take some time out of our hunt to check out another location where we needed to hang two stands for our upcoming HuntBlog hunt camp weekend. We got them done but hanging these two stands proved to be an exhausting adventure in the rain that had both of us wondering if we had enough left in the tank for a late afternoon/evening hunt. However, we persevered and made our way back out to the first location we had hunted earlier that morning for an evening sit.

The sky remained overcast until around 5:30 pm when we were greeted with a few clear patches. We both chatted on the radio that this may be just what the deer needed to get them moving. As afternoon turned into evening daylight was quickly fading on us and just when we thought the hunt would be over I observed some movement in the long grass in the corner of the field I was situated on. With about 15 minutes of shooting light left a small spike buck moved out into the field to eat some of the soya beans that had been left behind by the the farmers combine. At 25 yds he slowly turned and gave me a slightly quartering towards me shot which I was able to make. He ran a short distance out of the field and into some thick cover but I could tell from the sound of my bolt that I had at least hit one lung. I got down from the stand and approached my Lumenock bolt which was covered in blood with lots of bubbles which is always a good indication of a deadly lung shot. Sure enough after a short search in the dark, we found the young Buck and early season success was ours.

The next week I was back in my home territory hunting a familiar area where I have taken several nice Bucks over the past 10 years. It is also a small bush surrounding by crops and is used mostly as a travel corridor between fields. On the first evening I hunted this location I saw a nice big bodied 6 pt and a good sized Doe. I was setup in a ground blind but neither deer gave me a good shot. I went out again the next night and decided to set up in a ladder stand we had setup in the bush. Around 5:45 pm I tried a few Doe bleat calls with my Primos Can Call. Just after my second series of calls I heard the familiar noise of deer on the run. I looked up to see two Does in full flight coming towards me.

They passed by so quickly that I was sure they were being chased and sure enough, a nice big bodied 7 pt was hot on their trail. He was not moving as fast as the Does but I could tell it was going to take a bleat or two to stop him. As he approached me he lost sight of the Does and I was able to stop him quickly with a soft bleat call. Unfortunately he stopped 30 yds from me and behind a thick tangle of brush. He stood there for about five minutes checking the air and looking around and then started to walk back in the direction he had come from. I quickly reached into my pocket for my can bleat call and gave him two calls. Immediately he stopped and once again began to check the air. He then began to slowly walk towards me but he was quartering towards me and didn’t present a real good shot.

I waited patiently as he continued to walk behind my stand. He stopped at about thirty five yards from me and offered a shot but I knew if he came down the walking path we had cut into the stand, he would present me with a much better and closer shot. He finally made a decision to turn and began walking down the path. At 20 yds he suddenly stopped, lifted his head high and started to lick his nose. I had failed to notice that a slight breeze was blowing my scent in his direction and he most certainly had picked me up. Unfortunately for the young Buck he had not noticed soon enough and as he turned to walk away from me he presented me with a perfect 20 yd broadside shot. The bolt found its mark and his back legs kicked straight up in the air which is generally a tell tail sign of a double lung shot. He bolted off but only made it 20 yds before he fell and expired over a fallen tree. When I walked over to him it was quite obvious that the Rage broadhead had done its job to perfection as you can see from the photos. The season was off to a great start and with one more tag to fill, I was certainly looking forward to our HuntBlog team weekend in London and the comradery that goes along with the thrill of our hunts together.

Big Bodied 7pt
Big Bodied 7pt


Greg with his buck.
Greg with his buck.


2016 Opening Day Success

Opening day for the Ontario Whitetail bow season is always October 1st. This year that fell on a Saturday which meant more hunting boots in the field than normal across Ontario. That being said the Caledon HuntBlog crew of Herb Waliczek, Pierre Bone and Greg Mather had prepared well in the last few months leading up to opening day and our confidence was registering very high when we hit the woods opening morning. Unfortunately the weather forecast quickly dampened our spirits as it rained heavily all morning with 40 to 50 km/hr winds. Although the morning sit was not as enjoyable as it could have been, we did manage to see a Doe around 8:00 am, but that was the extent of our sightings when we broke for lunch. Lunch was great as we celebrated Herb and Pierre’s successful moose hunt from the previous season with a delicious tailgate lunch consisting of moose sausages with all the fixin’s.

Around 2:30pm we headed back into the stands. Pierre was in his usual setup in a comfortable two man stand in the south end of a clover field backing on to a mature pine forest. Herb changed position from his morning location and moved to a new two person stand we had just put up two days earlier overlooking the east side of the same clover field. I was setup in my same morning location one field over from my hunting partners in a ground blind at the south end of a soya bean field. Throughout the afternoon we sat through intermittent light showers but we stuck it out and late afternoon gave way to an evening fog hovering over our fields. Around 5:30 pm Herb radioed that he was going to try a few Doe calls. He wisely didn’t overcall and around 6:20 pm he announced that he had seen some movement in the forest behind him.

A flash of white revealed it was a deer but in the diminishing light he indicated it was a Doe. He watched as it steadily made its way through the bush and then it turned to head towards the field that he and Pierre were set up on. A short time later both Pierre and I picked up the deer entering the field but as it turned out, it was two young Bucks not the Doe Herb had thought it was.

Both deer entered the field and stood at the edge about 50 yds away from Herb. With a light North West wind blowing in our faces, we were in a great position to possibly get a shot. The two Bucks moved out a little further into the field and we noticed that they were absolutely soaked from the all-day rain. Herb could only see the 6 pt because the 8 pt was holding tight to the field edge. We all couldn’t help notice that both Bucks appeared to be on high alert even though there was no way they could scent us. They stood and held their position for about 5 minutes then in the fading light, the 6pt started to make his way towards Herb.

He was slightly quartering away from Herb when he reached the 40 yd marking he had in the field. The Bucks continued to look nervous and I feared that if Herb didn’t take the shot now, he may lose the opportunity. Herb was watching even more intently than I and had reached the same conclusion.

At 42 yds he placed his sites on the Bucks vitals and shot! Immediately the Buck took up flight without a jump or a bounce. He just flat out ran at top speed through some long grass and pines that separated the clover field from the soya bean field. I immediately radioed to the guys to “watch that deer” for as long as they could because from my vantage point I was going to lose sight of him. Luckily, Pierre was able to watch the Buck head into a small stand of popular trees about 200 yds from where Herb had taken the shot.

I can honestly say I have never seen a deer run so fast in all the years I have hunted but from the posture of the deer as it ran, we were cautiously excited that success would be ours. We were careful not to push the Buck with an early retrieval effort so we all met first at Herbs stand. Herb indicated that he may have shot a bit back. A search in the dark for the arrow came up empty and there was no blood to be found in the vicinity of the clover field. This made our decision easy as we all thought it best to back off and wait two hours before we took up the blood trail.

Around 9:00 pm we made our way straight across the field to the spot Pierre saw the buck enter the poplar trees. This area is very thick with thorn bushes, high grass and sumacs so we knew our search would be challenging if we didn’t have a good blood trail to follow. We originally thought the Buck must have run down a runway on the south side of the poplars so that is where we starting looking, but after an hour long search, we decided to regroup back at the start of the poplars near the edge of the bean field. Unfortunately we had no blood and the wet ground was adding to the difficulties of picking up a trail. We decided to fan out about 15 yds apart and start a grid search heading north through the poplars. About 20 yds into the search Pierre, who was the middle tracker, said that he was in such heavy cover that he couldn’t even walk through it. Greg suggested that most likely that’s where we would find him. Pierre agreed and managed to work his way around the thickest portion of tangled thorn bushes and back onto his original route. Not a minute later I heard Pierre call out to Herb to come and look at something. Herb worked his way over to Pierre and there laid the Buck piled up on a small hillside in the thickest bush you could imagine. I walked over and the celebration started.

Herb and his opening day buck.
Herb’s opening day buck.

Throughout the whole grid search not a speck of blood was found and unless you walked right up on that Buck you wouldn’t have found him. The shot was a good shot that took out one lung but Herb didn’t get a complete pass through as the arrow had hit the shoulder on the far side. Because of this the only blood we found was pooled up under the deer where he came to his final resting place. He was an excellent opening day buck and we were all glad that Herb had taken the shot. We were taking a few pictures when the familiar howls of the local coyote population began to echo across the fields. This lead to a quick decision to drag the Buck out to the field before gutting it where we could get the truck in and gut the deer in the headlights. The lessoned learned here is not a new one but one that hunters often fail to follow in their excitement to retrieve their harvest and that is … “if in doubt back out”. I am sure if we had moved on the deer earlier like we are all tempted to do, he may have got up and ran off making our chances of finding him more difficult.

Congratulations to HuntBlog Prostaffer Herb Waliczek on his 2016 opening day

Herb and Pierre
Herb and Pierre

Better Good Than Lucky – Whitetail Buck Hunting

Charles is a great hunter whom I have come to know through the blog. He is a regular contributor and seems to harvest a mature buck every year despite hunting difficult conditions on public ground. Another handsome looking buck this year Charles. Congrats! – james


In the past 2 hunting seasons I have seen few mature bucks.  The difficult winters and a burgeoning coyote population seem to have taken their toll on the older mature animals.  The 2 taxidermists I know have had fewer mounts to do and most hunters seem to agree that they’re seeing fewer deer….whatever the reason may be.  

The 2015 season arrived with me believing I would have my most successful season ever.  I have about 25 trees with steps in them ready to be hunted from 9 properties located in Oxford, Perth, North Dumfries  and Waterloo Wellington (all in Southern Ontario).   I’m well covered from early through late season for spots I believe to be attractive to mature bucks.  Places with optimum early season food ( acorns and early apples),  primary scrapes for the pre rut, funnels and areas with a lot of does for the rut,  and heavy cover with great browse as I get into the cold late season.  However, much like 2014 when I finally arrowed a mature buck on December 31st in the last 20 minutes of the season, my  best intentions seemed to fall well short of being productive through October.  Most of my early season food sources had the acorns eaten by early October and the heavy apple crop made the trees I selected less than optimum as the deer could locate apples more easily elsewhere than usual. The warm weather moving into November also impacted negatively in limiting day time movement. During the Pre Rut I did see and get pictures of some 5 to 7 point 2 and a half year old deer while on stand but I didn’t arrow any of them knowing that would be it for those areas if I did.    My best spots had a lot of other hunters with trail cameras. Their scent, intrusions and the warm weather were making for a lot of nocturnal movement by older deer. 

It all changed on November 10th.  I went to a spot which was being pounded by another hunter but I was hoping a mature animal from another bush unaware of his intrusions would move through the area looking for does as the spot has a large bedding area in it.  I saw about 3 does by 4 p.m. so I was getting more hopeful that I might actually see a mature buck. They moved carefully through heavy cover and through a shooting lane. Seeing and photographing them was enough to make this outing a success. About 15 minutes before dark 2 does moving quickly passed directly under my tree pursued by a very large mature buck.  I snorted a number of times to stop the buck but by the time he ended the chase he was about 35 yards away.  He was looking back trying to discern where the grunts had come from and moved fully broadside. It was easy to see he was going to take up the chase again as his attention shifted from what he had heard to where the does had exited.  Almost all of the deer I have arrowed were about 20 yards away so he was out of my comfort zone but I had to decide immediately on my course of action.   I leveled my crossbow quickly knowing it was now or never. 

The decision was made in part by the lack of sightings and opportunities, and because of the size of the stag. Arrow released…no resounding thwack or any other indication of a hit.  I did not feel good about my chances.  When I climbed down after dark I went to the where the buck had stood. There was no blood or any indication of a successful shot. I could see branches above where the deer had been in the clearing which had not been visible in the dim light when the shot was taken. It was more than possible the arrow had hit one of them and missed the animal or worse wounded him. Finding no arrow and feeling sick knowing that at best I had completely missed the buck, I decided to go to my vehicle for a better flashlight.  A number of older pine trees and branches were lying prone in the bush and due to moisture and rotting were partially covered with a coat of white lichens and fungus.  About 50 feet from where I exited the clearing and went into the bush there was an unusually large patch of white.  Getting closer I was shocked to see that it was the underside of the buck.  I couldn’t hardly believe it…the buck was down and dead.  Upon inspection it was easy to determine why I hadn’t heard the typical “thwack” which indicates to me a good lethal chest shot.  The arrow had entered the ham of the animal’s rump and passed through his other leg just down from the ham severing the femoral artery on route…causing  a very quick bleed out and death. A rash and poor decision had ultimately yielded the “desired result”. I’ll always contend that I would rather be good than lucky but I haven’t the words to express how glad I was there was not a crippled or wounded animal trying to survive in the forest.

Charles with his giant bodied buck.
Charles with his giant bodied buck.


Awesome inside spread on this buck.
Awesome inside spread on this buck.

He was a magnificent animal with an inside spread of over 21 inches.  Both main beams stretch up 22 inches but 2 decent points were broken off so he has only 7 scoreable points. All said he has a very impressive rack.  Later in the season I arrowed another buck with a less impressive rack but the shot (25 yards) was dead on and helped me feel better about the awful shot that had resulted in my trophy.  Like I said better good than lucky. Moving forward, I have some trepidation about being presented with a similar situation. It would be easy to repeat the same errors in judgement. All the effort and all the work can come down to seconds in any bow hunter’s season. But, given the same situation I am determined to be sure of a clear route for the arrow and not force the shot. So often it’s not the success or failure that really counts but the way the result is achieved……


Broke Tine 9!

Emily’s first deer on this particular hunting spot was this awesome 9 point taken with her bow. His rack was a little broken up, a  sure sign of a feisty buck. He was a lot of work to haul out of some thick cover after the shot but sometimes that is what makes the whole experience worth it. Congrats on your buck Emily and I am sure our readers will enjoy your story – James

I headed out to the stand at about 4:00 Thursday November 6th. It was just before the cold front came through so me and my dad agreed there should be some good movement that night. Well we were right!

I could here deer movement throughout the woods all night. I saw a little basket 6-point about 5:00 but only through an opening in some branches to the right of me and he never came to the bait pile.

About a half an hour later, the 9-point came in from behind me to the left and he was headed for the bait pile. As he was walking to the pile I could see some of his tines were busted off, but I didn’t really care because we needed meat not bone.

When he got to the pile he was quartered away from me. The angle wasn’t perfect and I waited patiently to see if he would turn.  Eventually he did but remained slightly quatered. I waited some more but the next thing I knew he started slowly walking to leave.

It was now or never. I set myself up for a quartering shot aiming for the opposite shoulder. I exhaled and squeezed steadily on the trigger. The arrow released as I took the shot and sailed towards the deer. A quick glance down at my watch showed the time to be 5:35.

Looking back it was more of a panic shot than anything. You always play out the perfect shot scenario in your mind but often times things don’t work out that way. Somewhere in the moment, the adrenaline and excitement, things often become surreal. It is then that you rely on your instincts as a hunter and all the practice to make the shot count.

When my dad picked me up I told him “I hope you are in the mood to do some tracking tonight.” We went home and ate and then headed out tracking at 7:00. As it turned out the shot had actually been quite good. We found him within 45 minutes and the arrow had went through the stomach and hit a lung.


Emily with her trophy.
Emily with her trophy.

It took 2 hours to drag him out because he got in some pretty thick stuff but we got him. He was my first big buck and my first deer from that particular hunting spot. I continue to thank God today for him and I’m truly blessed.

Broken Tine 9 Point
Broken Tine 9 Point

A White “Tail”

Anticipation of what is to come? I am sure all of us whom take to the woods go through a similar feeling of anticipating the future, the excitement and promise before the hunt and the ups and downs after the season begins. All of the pre-season scouting, the repair of old and setting up of new stands/blinds, planting food plots, setting up of the trail cameras and practicing the shot. The hard work we all put in getting ready to pursue the elusive Whitetail goes on and on.

I and my fellow hunters, Ryan and my son Chris went through the whole process as we prepared for the season ahead. While scouting we saw many mature deer at two of the three properties we have permission to hunt. The third property, where we do most of our turkey hunts; we did not think we would need to focus on. I only mention this fact as a precursor. Our property of prime focus known to us as property one, had shown us fifteen individual deer, with seven being bucks travelling through constantly. We were very excited to say the least about this location.

Ryan and I would miss opening day due to our annual archery moose hunt, not complaining, just stating (unfortunately we were not successful on the moose hunt). Chris however managed to get out for the opener. Soon into the season property two became his area of choice after several deer sightings. He had a couple of mature deer tease him on a couple of different occasions but offered him no good shot.

Ryan and I, upon our return from the moose hunt both hunted property one. Two days of sitting produced only frustration as we saw nothing which we both found very strange.

At this time Construction on highway 401 was in full swing. Unfortunately for us, property one butts up to the highway. Also, our landlord unannounced to us, had made a deal with the construction company to fill a pond on the property with the discard from the project. The truck traffic in and out was definitely having an adverse effect on the area deer.

At the same time we started to see many pictures on our trail cameras of random people using the property as a park. They even gave a wave to the camera as they walked by. Unfortunately we had no ability to stop them. They were the owner’s neighbors.

Chris, continued to try and hunt property two but he also began to have trouble with people running by the stand he liked to hunt with ATV’S and guns. We do not know to this day what they were gun hunting but it continued to have an adverse effect on the results of Chris’s hunts.

It was now getting towards the end of October. Chris and I headed back up north for our annual moose gun hunt. This time success was ours as we returned after a very successful 8 day hunt with a nice young bull I took on Chris’s birthday and another member of the group took a cow two days later. Our excitement followed us home and we were ready for the Whitetail rut. Sadly, when we returned Ryan had nothing but bad news, no sign to be found.

Moose Hunt Success
Moose Hunt Success

I began to check the cameras and Ryan’s prognosis was backed up by the fact that no pictures were on the camera. All I could think was “where had all the deer gone?” No fresh scraps, no rubs, no nothing. Like ghosts in the night, the deer had disappeared. This became very disheartening and it continued through most of our November hunt. In that time we had only 2 close encounters at property two. Ryan had a buck chasing a doe run under his stand and I had 2 does run under mine. Obviously we had no shots as they just kept running. Poor Chris was seeing nothing at his location.

But even though the lack of sign was depressing we continued to press on like the diehards we are and I am sure most of you are the same.

On the last 2 weekends of November Ryan and I decided to move to property three even though we had done very little scouting there and had not set up any stands or ground blinds. In fact we had taken one of each down. On a positive note, earlier while removing the old blind that had blown apart in a wind storm, I saw many deer tracks with a couple of good scraps. Finally some fresh sign!

We are now in the second to last week of November and my walk-in cooler is still empty. It was at this point that I decided to give property three a real good look. This area is mostly fence rows and creek bank encompassing 3 farms with very little bush but it was here that I found the most sign. In fact, while I was checking the scraps from earlier, I came within eighty yards of a mature twelve point. We eyed each other for twenty minutes before he decided he had enough and bounded away. I also saw two does shortly thereafter.

Upon seeing this I decided to put up a trail camera and start a bait pile to see if we could pattern any deer or even identify how many were in the area. Ryan and I also decided we were going to hunt there immediately. On the first day we saw a buck chasing a doe. An excellent start, which gives us some encouragement! On day two we saw two does with a buck following. No shots were presented because the deer were on the opposite side of the creek that we were sitting by but again encouraging. Day three, Monday afternoon, I decided to make an old style blind out of branches on the inside of the East creek bank and hunt it but we didn’t see any deer ( I did however see 2 coyotes from my new blind but let them go so I didn’t spook any deer). Again uncertainty started to set in as we started to think ground hunting is not going to work here.

The next day I decided to pull the card out of the camera when I noticed that the bait pile had been hit hard. As I was pulling the card I remember thinking I will see a few night pictures of deer. To my surprise I identify sixteen different deer, many does and fawns along with a few bucks that stayed back from the bait pile. Unfortunately all the pictures were at night, which made us feel like we would never get a shot.

Fast forward now to Monday, November 30th. None of us had hunted the weekend prior. Ryan and Chris were both working and me, retired but not liking the winds stayed home. When I arrived I decided to pull the card from the camera again and check to see what night action the bait pile had experienced. To my surprise the deer fed throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. Go figure! … I am beginning to really doubt our chances for success at this time.

Wednesday morning December 2nd I decided to hunt inside the creek in my make shift blind. The wind was gently blowing out of the West and it is overcast. Even after seeing lots of deer on the trail camera I was still having negative thoughts about my chances. I couldn’t help but think about the tag burning a hole in my pocket. I even started to wonder how is it that ever since I have purchased my Excalibur bow, I have not had a Turkey, Moose, or Whitetail present me with a shot. Very depressing thoughts at seven in the morning.

It was now time to get my bow ready and as I pulled it from the case I realized I had forgot my camcorder at home. Oh well, thinking to myself, I am not seeing anything anyway, so I sit and start to watch the shooting lanes Ryan and I had created. A few minutes go by and I see movement on the bank! Am I seeing things? I remember thinking “wow it’s a deer”, but for some reason negative thoughts kept creeping into my head. Will he turn? Will it see me? It will never come this far! Through the branches I could see the Whitetail look towards me but I still could not identify gender. I could tell it had a nice size body as it continued to walk towards the opening of choice. It came closer and looked in my direction again. Now I could see head gear. A young good sized buck! Naturally he stops behind a tree as they always do giving me no shot. It feels like time is standing still. Holding the crossbow and trying not to move he finally steps into the opening. The twenty yard shot is perfectly placed just behind the front shoulder. The MonTech broadhead, hits the mark passing through and flying twice as far as the young buck runs. I wait, and check my watch, it is 7:21 am and what seemed to take an hour was actually over in minutes. Success at last!

Finally Meat in the Freezer
Finally Meat in the Freezer

Needless to say when Ryan arrived on the property from his place of work, I had called him to give a hand, he was pumped to see the five point lying in the field. I had already field dressed the buck so we loaded him on Ryan’s ATV and took him to the cooler. Some excellent table fare for sure.

Ryan was so pumped that he took the next day off work and back we went to the same spot. Ryan hunting the bait pile (I tried to get him to hunt the bank but he pulls a compound and thought I would have a better chance with the crossbow) and I hunting the same creek bank again. The morning’s weather was identical to the previous day regarding winds, West and calm, with clear skies. The only difference was we were feeling much more positive about this morning’s chances because of the previous day’s success.

What happened next I thought was amazing. It was like a repeat performance. Everything was almost the same as the previous day. I even forgot the camcorder. The only difference, Ryan was there and the buck was bigger, a ten point. The shot was the same, in the same clearing, in the same body location, with the same arrow, and even more coincidental was the fact that the time that the shot was taken was within a minute of the time I had taken the shot the day before.

Ron with a great 10 point
Ron with a great 10 point

Needless to say we were both happy. Ryan even more for me that I had finally broken the jinx of the new bow. After 3 years of trying I had finally sealed the deal, not once but twice in two days. We were proud of ourselves that not giving up and staying at it combined with all of our hard setup work and persistence were finally rewarded.

10 point Buck
10 point Buck

My advice to all of you is certainly backed up by this story…..”Do not give up as success could be just around the corner!”

Story By: Ron Ouellette

December 7, 2015


A Feeling I will Never Forget!

For all of those who are regular follows of the blog you will know that we are suckers for stories about firs deer and first buck harvests. There is something about the excitement in the story telling that really echoes true on the pages of the blog. This is a tremendous story and wonderfully written piece from Heidi and I hope we can share in many more of her future hunting triumphs. Thanks for sharing!

– James

On the land that we deer hunt in Eastern PA, you work for your spot, it’s not given. The land is owned by grandpa, and he is a firm believer in the old way, you work for it. We have 17 food plots on our property, which means a lot of work in both the spring and summer time to keep them maintained and ready for deer season. When my husband brought it up to me about hunting, I was a little naïve and didn’t really understand all the work that goes into one season, but now I know, and understand why we do it.

Picking rocks. Yes I said it, the dreadful task of picking rocks. The land that we have is very rocky, so to earn your spot or right you start by being a rock picker. 17 food plots of rocky soil later, your back is sore but you sort of eliminated some of the problem even though it doesn’t seem like it, but you started making it known that you are willing to work for something you want to do. The food plots are tilled and the winter wheat is planted, hours have been spent target practicing, hopes are high for deer season.

The definition of a hunter, when your vacation time at work revolves around the Rut, you know you are a hunter. My husband and I took a week off of work to spend all day twenty feet up admiring God’s creatures and creations from a tree stand and hopeful to fill some buck tags. On Halloween, it when I first got a close encounter with a nice 8 pointer. He came in from my left, got to 25 yards and stood directly facing my stand, made a scrape and then turned behind thick pines. I was shaking! Up until this point I had never had a buck within range or either a rifle or a bow! So seeing this buck this close, I had every emotion going through me that’s possible. I tried grunting at him and hoping that he would turn back and come close to give me a shot, no luck.

The following day I returned to that same stand, hoping that he would return and give me a shot. I didn’t see a thing that day. All kinds of things were going through my mind, did I hunt that stand too hard, did I leave my scent there, anything to cause the deer traffic to stop. The temperature was only going to rise the next couple of days so I knew the deer movement was going to slow down a bit, so I decided to change it up and switch locations.

That morning it started out slow. I was hunting on a food plot of ours and was dealing with the never ending battle of squirrels. I think I counted 7 at one time around me. To my right was think briers, and I was getting a little aggravated with the squirrel vs. deer debate going on in my head. Then I heard a grunt, I second guessed myself at first but I knew that was a deer. I quick grunted back, and the deer responded. Nerves and excitement officially started kicking in, I quick texted my husband and said what happened, he said get ready in case it comes up to me. I grabbed my Hoyt Charger and tried to compose myself. All I could hear was movement in the thick below, I was trying to remain calm but yet look for what I heard moving towards me. Then through the briers, I finally saw it, there was a deer. At this point I couldn’t make out how many points it had, all I could see was the body and then his head moved and I saw antlers.

Game on, I grunted at the buck, hoping to spike its interest in coming closer, and it started walking towards me. I was always told that a million things go through your mind while archery hunting, and now I was experiencing them first hand. I didn’t want to make any wrong movement to make sure this buck wouldn’t bust me. I saw he was a nice even 6 pointer, and made up my mind if he presents a good shot, I’m going to take it. He couldn’t have followed a more perfect path to the food plot, he came on to the food plot in front of me out of the thick at just twenty yards, the perfect broadside shot and I took it. I saw the arrow hit and pass through, and he ran away, acting injured. I have never felt anything like I did in that mere 30 seconds for all of this to happen. I did it, I shot my first buck! My first buck and I was able to do it in archery! I quick called my husband and said that I shot, he said stay calm and take my time getting down and to go check my arrow. I went over to my arrow, and it was covered in blood, that’s when it really set in, I did it!! I was able to harvest my first buck and I did it in archery, the way I felt that day is a feeling I will never forget!

Heidi with her well earned trophy!
Heidi with her well earned trophy!


Another shot of Heidi with her first buck!
Another shot of Heidi with her first buck!

The Big 10 Bow Kill

Special thank you Taylor for sharing this weeks story with us. With the help of her boyfriend Nick, she was able to take this beautiful Kentucky Pope and Young whitetail buck. I will let Taylor tell the story from here but I hope everyone is having as successful a whitetail season as our writers so far.

– James

October 10th 2015, in Central Kentucky. It was bow season and finally one of the first cooler evening of the year. After finally getting a day time picture of the “Big 10” the evening before my boyfriend Nick and I climbed into our stands and waited…. and waited…. and waited.

After hours of sitting in the woods we hadn’t laid our eyes on a single deer. Then about 20 mins before sunset all of a sudden we were surrounded. First just a doe then not long after two bucks walked into the food plot. There he was the “Big 10”! I was shaking, as he put his head down to eat I slowly stood up trying not to spook the other deer all around us.

Finally it was safe to draw back and let an arrow fly! It was a 15 yard shot and I was about 25 ft. up in a stand when I made the shot. When my arrow hit him I instantly knew I made a good shot! We waited about 30 min. then got down to look for him. Immediately we found blood and lots of it. Unfortunately it was getting dark and after 2 hours of looking we had no luck in finding him.

I was crushed. So first thing the next morning we got up at sunrise and went back to the last place we found blood. Laying in a thicket about 60 yards from where we gave up the night before there he laid! I ran to him, tears in my eyes I believe I was the happiest girl in the world at that time. The Big 10 officially scored 140 inches and I’m proud to say he is my first Pope & Young Bow Buck!

Taylor with her Pope and Young Trophy
Taylor with her Pope and Young Trophy


Great Brow Tines on this big 10 point.
Great Brow Tines on this big 10 point.