Bowhunting is personal and to every person it may mean something a little bit different.
I find that most bow hunters think about bow hunting in a different light than a lot of gun hunters I have met. For example, the buck I shot in Minnesota this year means so much to me, Why?, because not only was I able to take him, but I watched and turned him down in the 2012 & 2013 deer seasons. Instead of shooting him I took out my camera in the fall of 2012 and took pictures of him and we have several minutes of him on our video camera. We also found a few sheds from each year and we always try and put back into nature what we take out, so we put in corn and food plots and leave them for the deer. So when we actually connect with one that we know is in the area, we already have a bit of history on them, which we think is special. Where some hunters come out to hunt maybe 1-3 days a year, shoot one and go about their business not even giving a second thought as to where that deer came from, how old it was or where its shed antlers are laying from that spring. They also don't bother to feed or take care of them by putting any food plots in.
The buck we were calling the 9 point turned into a 10 point in 2013 and then in 2014 an 11-point. But we still referred to him as the 9-point. We would go hunting and we'd come home and say: "I saw the 9-point", or when we were hunting and video taping together we'd say:
"There's the 9 point!" And I'd scramble to get my camera out to take pictures of him. In the fall of 2013, Jim and I were sitting together and he was video taping me, and one of our first encounters with him we both said: "He's nice, but he needs another year or two."
Well, where we live, not much survives. If they leave our property they normally get shot, because an army of gun hunters sit around our place and if "it's brown it's down".
So can you believe our surprise, the first time in the spring of 2013 when we found his sheds. We were so excited, knowing that he had made it! Then our surprise to find one of his sheds in the spring of 2014 knowing he survived. We also put cameras up by our food plots to get pictures of any bucks that may have made it through the gun seasons.
This is just all part or the love we have for bow hunting and the rituals we do every year when pursuing these amazing, beautiful creatures. We do not want to take that for granted.
It was October and I had hunted this stand 3 times prior to taking my buck, it seemed weird, but the first time I sat there deer would come down the hill and go under this cedar tree and put their noses down, appearing to be either eating or drinking. At first I didn't think nothing of it, I had thought that maybe there was something good to eat under there. Then they would leave there after a few minutes and come down the hill and walk right past my tree and go out in the field to eat. This Cedar tree was only 40 yards from my tree. The few nights before I shot my buck, he showed up, went to the cedar tree and did the same thing as the other deer had done, and he turned and headed in a different direction where I didn't have a shot opportunity. This time I was thinking; "What in the world is under that tree?" So after the second time witnessing this deer behavior, when I got down to leave my stand that afternoon, I went over to that cedar tree and to my surprise I found a small shallow water hole there! Then I realized that this was the same tree that our beloved 16 yr old Border Collie/mix Hana Marie was buried under. We had buried her there in the spring time. The dirt had settled in and created a shallow pond, because Hana was wrapped in a big black bag, it was just enough to hold water and create this little man made pond, something we now refer to as "Hana's Secret Pond". So instead of the deer going down to the neighbors big pond to get a drink, they were all drinking out of "Hana's Secret Pond"!
October 24th, 2014 - Jim and I had decided to split up and not video tape in order to cover more ground, we knew the 9 point was really nice, and that the way he was traveling, if one of us didn't get him, he would get shot quickly. If we could have let him go yet another year, we certainly would have. He wasn't very shy and had shown himself during the day quite a few times. A logger and our father-in-law had seen him, and we had several cam tracker pictures of him as well. This was his area and he wasn't afraid to parade around.
I was sitting on our property about 40 yards next to a field, and also in the middle of where the deer always filter down from the top of our hill, and hop the fence going out into that field. Well, I was settled in and quietly sitting there when I start hearing what appears to be the neighbor guy grunting and rattling horns like there is no tomorrow! And not just every now and then, like every 10 minutes, grunt, grunt, rattle, rattle, grunt, grunt, rattle, rattle! I'm rolling my eyes like he's crazy and I'm getting more and more mad, because he sounded ridiculous, and this goes on for at least an hour!
About the same time of day as the other 3 nights when the deer started to appear and filter down towards the field, I glanced over, and on a different neighbors property about 200 yards away, I see him, it's the 9 point! He is marching down the hill next to the fence like he's going to go straight down to the big pond on the other neighbor's property. That just happens to be where the crazy, grunting, horn rattling, guy is sitting in a blind! So at this point he's to my right, it was a clam evening, I slowly stood up, grabbed my bow and grunt tube and gave a quick grunt. He stopped in his tracks! Snapped his head in my direction, and stared what looked like right at me for at least 1 minute! Then he proceded to walk again, so I grunted again, this time louder! The same thing happened, he snapped his head and stared in my direction, looking for the buck who was in HIS territory! Again he started to walk, and I grunted! He snapped his head, looked, turned around his tail tucked in, and he started marching right back up the hill! I was thinking, "Crap I scared him, Dang it!", when all of a sudden, he reached a low dip in the fence, he hopped it and started to make a bee line straight across from where he was, headed right in my direction!
When he got behind some brush he stopped and was looking around, so I grunted again, this time he is in front of me about 80 yards away and he comes through the brush turned onto a lane and marched right down to me! He was facing me and walked right past me about 25 yards away! He was definitely close enough, but there were a few branches and I just couldn't get a clear shot. So when he came down, he went to my left, stopped (he's facing away from me now) and looked and looked and looked for that other buck, seeing none, he turned around and started to head back up the hill, he was heading right to "Hana's Secret Pond"! He passed the branches I couldn't shoot through before, and he was quartering away and I grunted, stopping him in his tracks! My Carbon Express Maxima arrow left my Mathews bow with my Lumenok lit up as it hit him, I watched him take off running! He ran about 60 yards and piled up in front of my stand in that same brush he came through just moments before! I was so excited, I called Jim and told him I had taken the 9 point! As I was climbing down out of my stand, I see the crazy grunt, rattling guy walking back to his car, he had seen the whole thing unfold before his eyes. I couldn't help but feel relived that it was me going to see the 9 point and not him!
Another successful Minnesota whitetail hunt. I can't help but believe in a strange way that Hana helped me get my big Minnesota buck! I am grateful for the land that I'm able to own and hunt and for the skills to keep bow hunting. And to our Lord who has provided us with amazing land and animals to hunt.
My 11 point buck ended up officially scoring 136 7/8 Pope and Young
I used my Mathews Creed bow
Carbon Express Maxima Arrows
Trophy Ridge sights and rest
Steelforce broad heads by Vision Quest