It’s mid November and I can sum up my Southern Ontario Whitetail Deer hunting season so far with one statement ….. “The wrong stand at the wrong time”. This happens to ever hunter at some point in the season but my frustration was mounting from the cold hard fact that I had already experienced this scenario 5 times since the opener on October 1st. Even more frustrating was the fact that on 3 of these occasions, numerous deer had walked out directly under the stand I would have, could have or should have been in. The most recent occurrence didn’t involve multiple deer but it did happen with a very nice 8 point. It was a classic case of changing my decision based on my discussions with my hunting buddies after we arrived. I had originally decided to hunt a stand overlooking the midpoint of a shallow gully that runs the full length of the forest but at the last minute I decided to hunt a stand at the end of the gully. The stand I chose had produced a very nice buck for me two years earlier so it was one that I often hunted out of.
There were four of us hunting the property that day including our friend Bill who had never hunted this particular spot with us. We were set up around 2:30 when a nice 8 point came running down the west side of the bush and entered the bush at the bottom end. He proceeded to walk through the bush and looked like he was going to give our new comer a shot. At the last minute he decided to skirt his stand and I watched as he travelled down one side of the gully and stopped directly in front of the stand I had earlier intended on hunting. I tried several times with my Doe bleat to call him over to me but he wanted nothing to do with that. Still it was a very exciting hunt but yet another notch in my growing repertoire of wrong decisions.
Forward one week to Sunday November 16 at the same hunting location. On this morning I was hunting with Herb a fellow Pro Staffer with TheHuntBlog Caledon Crew. On the truck ride out we discussed the events of the previous week and I gave Herb first crack at whatever stand he wanted to hunt. Herb decided that he would like to go into the stand I had been in the previous week which is a comfortable hang on stand located in a pine tree with lots of cover at the end of the forest gully. I decided to use the two man stand located on the south west corner of the property located on the edge of the bush overlooking a clover field. This stand we have affectionately named “the Fat Boy stand”. Readers please be advised that there is absolutely no reference here in this stand name to any of our group members physiques and none should be taken ….. “yeah right!”
On that morning we arrived early and started out in the dark to our selected stands. As daylight broke we were treated to a calm, cold, frosty morning with temperatures around -4 degrees C. Around 8:00 am Herb radioed me to advise that he had seen close to 100 turkey’s at various locations near his stand. We chatted and had a good laugh at their ability to elude us during the fall turkey hunt earlier in October. Both of us agreed that although we hadn’t seen any deer yet, it was a great morning to be in the woods. We signed off on the radios and at 8:30 am I spotted a very nice buck moving into an alfalfa field approximately 150 yds to my northwest. The buck appeared to be at least an 8 point and was slowly feeding north across the field moving away from me. I radioed Herb and told him what was up and that I would keep him informed. It was at this point with the buck continuing to move away from me that I tried a series of Doe bleats but he showed absolutely no interest in my calls. He continued to move across the field at a steady pace until he came to a 50 yd wide swath of long grass that stretched from my stand location all the way to a small reforested pine bush at the north end of our property. This area has patches of short pine trees scattered throughout it and the buck decided that he was going to use one of these clumps of pines as his morning bedding area. I watched for about 15 minutes to see if he would exit them but he didn’t so I rightfully assumed he was bedded down. I radioed Herb and we discussed the situation and decided to wait him out. Around 11:15 a strong gust of wind came up from nowhere and blew directly across the field. I remember thinking if that doesn’t wake him nothing will. I had no sooner got that thought out of my head when he popped his head out of the pines some 2 hours and 45 minutes since I first laid eyes on him. I watched as he slowly made his way back out into the alfalfa field he had originally walked in on. Once he got in the field he began feeding approximately 150 yds out from my stand. It was at this point that I reached for my PRIMOS Buck Roar and let out three moderately loud grunts in succession. The buck raised his head and briefly looked in my general direction but then put his head down and continued to feed across the field. I waited several minutes and having not got the reaction I was hoping for I decided to get a little more aggressive with the call. This time I used two very loud, long and deep roar grunts and immediately followed them with a loud snort wheeze. This proved to be the trigger the buck needed. Upon hearing this series of calls he abruptly raised his head and looked longingly directly towards my stand location. Without further hesitation he dropped his head and started marching right towards me. It was at this point that my heart rate matched the excitement. The buck was quickly covering the 150 yds between us at a steady pace. I quickly turned on my scope mounted GO Pro Hero 3 Camera and started filming. This well rested buck was approaching fast and looking for a fight. He left the field and entered the long grass but I could tell he was on a well worn runway that was going to lead him directly to the 40 yd marker I had located in the field. He covered the long grass, weaving between a few small pines and then stopped just short of the clover field I was set up on. At this point he raised his head and slowly looked to the north and then turned and looked south. He was presenting a 40 yd quartering towards me shot that I wasn’t about to take. Without any further hesitation he moved into the clover field and starting walking straight towards me. Unfortunately the only shot was a chest shot at this point. I remember thinking “patience” as he continued his trek to find the calling buck. At 25 yds he stopped and looked directly at the base of the tree I was set up in. He stood facing me for a few more seconds then made the fatal mistake of turning completely broadside. Without hesitation I dropped the hammer on him with my Excalibur ExoMag and watched as my Lumenok bolt found its mark just behind the front shoulder. The shot proved to be just slightly high but it certainly did the job as it knocked the buck clear off his feet. I could tell I didn’t get very much arrow penetration and as he thrashed around I heard the aluminum arrow snap. He thrashed a few more seconds and then dropped on his side. It was at this point I made a couple of uncharacteristic rookie moves.
The first mistake was I stopped filming him and hung my bow up with the camera still running. When you see the video you will surely think the same thing although in hind sight the camera shots up the tree with me standing to the side are kind of unique! The biggest wrong move however came several minutes later when I realized the camera was still running and I took my eyes off him to turn it off. As I did this the buck managed to somehow struggle to his feet and started to stagger off very slowly away from me. He was shaking and staggering so bad I thought he was going to immediately drop … “but he didn’t”. At this I reached for my uncocked ….. “yes…uncocked crossbow” and watched helplessly as he walked out of sight.
I stood there in the stand for about a minute in disbelief and then radioed Herb. He had heard the shot from his location and asked for the verdict. I explained to him what happened and we both agreed that he was a dead deer but that waiting a couple hours would be a good thing. We stayed in the stands (my bow now loaded) for about 45 minutes and then met at the truck for lunch. At 1:30 we drove down the field and proceeded to try to locate the deer. We easily found the arrow and noted that it was snapped off with only about 4 inches having penetrated the deer. About 10 feet from the arrow we found my RAGE Crossbow 125 grain broadhead laying on the ground with about four inches of arrow attached to it. As we examined the broadhead we noticed that the blades on the expandable didn’t look like they had fully deployed and the entire broadhead shaft was slightly bent. We weren’t discouraged because there was quite a bit of blood laying in the field where the buck had dropped and rolled so we knew I had made a lethal shot. At this point we proceeded to follow the runway I had watched him exit the field on. Our optimism soon changed when we couldn’t find any blood along the trail and increased when one runway turned into multiple branch-off runways. Knowing the general direction the buck had walked off on we made our way towards the sumacs that we thought he would be laying in but such was not the case. We made a decision at this point to continue down separate runways but both eventually lead into the bush. We followed them until they came to an ATV path. We decided to walk back along the path towards my stand. The reason being was that I was convinced that the buck couldn’t have made it this far based on the reaction at impact and the difficulty he was having while he walked off. We followed the trail back to another known runway that came from the field back to where we stood that was located about 50 yds west of the treestand. It was at this point I looked to my right and found the buck piled up on a small hillside in the bush.
After a couple of high fives we quietly walked over to the expired buck. To our amazement the shot placement looked perfect but when we gutted him we noticed that the bolt had made a direct hit on one of the rib bones but it hadn’t broke it. This is extremely unusual because in the past our Rage broadheads had shattered the bones when this happened. Further observation upon gutting revealed that the ribcage wasn’t even cracked even though the body cavity was totally engulfed in blood. We were certainly puzzled and can only suspect that there must be a major artery that runs from the neck to the back of the deer that must have been severed.
The good news was that we recovered our prize and he was a large bodied ten point not an eight point like we had originally thought.
After checking the video I managed to get some excellent footage of the kill shot and some good video of the tracking and recovery.
I hope you will all enjoy watching it on TheHuntBlog !
By Prostaffer…. Greg Mather