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.
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.