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.
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