This article will describe an unusual and unexpected interaction that took place in the 2006 deer hunting season. It was the type of experience that you can only have if you spend enough time in the woods. I was out hunting all day long and had taken my lunch break. I decided to head to my evening stand to do a little trimming on some branches that had grown in the way of my shooting lanes for my evening stand. It was about noon so I had the rest of my afternoon to myself to take care of what ever I needed to.
Once I arrived at area where my tree stand was, I put my backpack and equipment down in a safe place so no branches would fall on them. I took out my handheld mini saw and climbed up a tree that had the branches overgrown in my shooting lanes. I started right in cutting branches. As they fell they made some fairly loud crashing sounds. I got down from the tree when I was done, cut the branches into smaller pieces and drug them out of the way. I then cleared a path to my stand so I would not have branches or old sticks in the way which could make noise as I went into my stand later that day. I had intended to work on another stand once I finished this one and then come back to this one toward evening. I had just finished my work and still had the saw in my hand when I noticed movement in my peripheral vision.
Looking out across the creek into the field next to me where I had seen movement I saw a buck slowly walking in, curious about the noise he had heard. I went down onto the ground flat on my stomach and crawled over to my back pack. I pulled out my grunt call and decided to try to call him in closer. I used just a soft “locator” grunt call with three short puffs into my call. I was still face down on the ground and looking over the top of my glasses to see his reaction. He really perked up when he heard that first grunt. He doubled back downwind, went down into a creek bed and back up into the trees and then came into me from the south to get a closer look. My bow was within reach but I could not get into a position to shoot at this point without being clearly detected.
At about 30 yards he stopped for quite a time, trying to identify the location of a deer that he thought he had heard. I went ahead and made a soft and short grunt call twice, which enticed him to come even closer. At 15 yards he stopped and put his nose up into the air trying to sniff out what he still could not see. At this point I could tell that he was a medium sized 2 ½ year old 6 point buck, but too small to shoot for the freezer if the opportunity arose. I waited him out. He would take 3 steps and stop then take 3 more. So it went for about 3-4 more minutes. He passed behind a tree at 7 yards and I made one more grunt sound, very softly down into my shirt now. He came up within 4 yards of me and stretched his neck out toward me. I lay frozen in a bed of leaves and freshly disturbed dirt around me, which must have helped cover my scent. He stayed there at least 2-3 minutes confused but curious still.
Finally, he decided he was not going to find what he was looking for. He went slowly past me, went back and looked into the creek that separated the two fields and then disappeared into the woods that surround the edge of the creek. Since I did not intend to shoot him and I considered my fun was over, (I also did not want to alarm him) so I just stayed put until he was out of sight.
I nicknamed this interested fellow “Curious George” and remember that interaction fondly. It showed me how young bucks can easily let their curiosity lead them. A more mature buck would likely have not even come any closer than say 30-40 yards without spotting another deer which they would have expected to have made the crashing sounds and then grunts. It was an experience for both of us!