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.
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!
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.
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.
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