I knew for a fact that this year marked the beginning of a new hunting challenge for me. My years and years of hunting when and how long I wanted, had come to an end. I now had to balance hunting with not only work but being a full-time college student. I would come to find out this would prove to be a challenging but also rewarding task. This is something that so many people have to work around in their life. Having to race home and gear up in time for a hunt was proving to be very difficult. Especially with legal hunting hours seemingly changing almost every day. As the season went on the lengths of my hunts got shorter and shorter. I knew if I was going to bear down on scoring a buck, I needed to act fast.
We had an awful summer this past year with constant rain and flooding almost daily. So the task of doing the summer’s chores to prepare for the upcoming season was also proving to be a challenge. But we managed to get everything set on time and along with the constant rain, we were receiving constant pictures of some nice bucks. About three weeks before the start of the season we managed to refrain from checking our cameras so we could give our targeted area a break and leave no traces that we had been around. My dad and I were very pumped when the season rolled around to see what had been cycling through within those few weeks. We were hunting a stand that sat just inside the woods, right beside a very beaten down path that led straight to the bean field at our backs. From the activity we were getting on camera and the deer sign that was clearly laid out in front of us, we knew we were in a hot spot.
The season started on the first Saturday of October. After the summer we had been through, we were extremely grateful to have perfect weather. Not too hot, not too cold, and no rain. Just a perfect picturesque fall. Along with the weather working out in my favor, the deer did also. I was entertained every night by a group of doe who seemed to come at the same time at dusk, almost as if on cue. My dad and I enjoyed watching the group that would surround us at all angles practically every night. Sur- rounding us so much it even made it difficult to get down from the stand some nights. With activity this good from the does, sooner or later a buck was bound to follow.
The first week of the season had passed and we continued to see frequent activity every evening. On a particular day, it had been absolutely beautiful all day long and I was ready to enjoy a relaxing evening in the woods. Now as far as instincts go, before I score a deer I usually spend all day battling that feeling of buck fever. But when I got home this day, my dad said he had an itching feeling all day and couldn’t wait for us to go out. My dad’s feelings proved to be right. From the beginning of our hunt to the end. As the time of year continued to move on, the sun continued to set sooner in the evening and this was a particular day where it seemed like I was counting on very little sunlight. I rushed home and got geared up, just in time for us to make it to the stand. We had successfully entered the field and started to sneak closer to the woods. We were making our way across a soon-to-be harvested soybean field and it gave a clear view across the entire stretch of the field.
As we were trying to hurry I noticed something about 100 yards ahead of us that resembled a deer. I motioned for my dad to stop behind me and asked to see if he could also make out what I was seeing. He gave it a good look and beings it was on the edge of the field near the brush, convinced me it was just a tall weed. I agreed with him, just figuring I was imagining big bucks so much I was now mistaking a weed for one. We continued walking, not wasting a minute but I never took my eyes off of that area. I was lucky I didn’t, because after walking a few more yards, the weed turned its head and showed off its beautiful rack. I could then give my dad a satisfying “I told you so” that it was not just a weed and was in fact a buck staring straight at us. It never suspected a thing and entered the woods, peacefully flicking its tail as an- other deer followed it.
That was our cue to kick our butts into gear and make a beeline for the stand. We successfully made it through the woods and shimmied up, getting settled in record time. Dad and I both took our posts and kept our eyes peeled in all directions, searching for the wandering buck. I was almost starting to lose focus when I heard a sweet sweet sound off in front of me. Being so early in the season, the trees were still luscious and green, blocking my view, but the sound of two bucks rattling their antlers with each other was traveling through the woods just in front of me. I looked at dad to make sure he was hearing the same action as me and he shook his head confirming it. I knew it was only a matter of time before they moved our direction to head back for the field so I quickly sprung into action and got in position.
Not even a minute after hearing the distant rattling, a com- motion came from in front of me and I could make out a deer weaving its way through the trees. It was heading straight at me and I knew at any wrong move it would be staring head-on with me. Once coming completely in view I could undoubtedly tell it was a beautiful six-point, no more than 25 yards away from me, slowly taking its time coming into range. As it got closer I could still see movement coming from behind it. The first buck was now picking up its pace and heading behind us and I knew I needed to act fast. I caught the quickest glimpse of the second buck and immediately chose to shoot the first one. I found the beautiful buck in the scope and made no hesitation to pull the trigger. I watched my Lumenok fly true and knew I had made a perfectly clean kill.
The deer was no match for my crossbow and ran no more than 100 yards to our right. Time had worked in my favor once again as we tracked the clear blood trail straight to my deer in broad daylight. This harvest would provide my family with many many plentiful meals and for that, I am so incredibly thankful. This year’s odds were teetering on a balance beam
for me and I knew I had a big challenge to tackle. But every- thing fell into place as I was grateful enough to harvest a beautiful, healthy 6-point that evening. My archery season upped my level in hunting for me and put me up to the test in many aspects. Everyone’s lives change all the time and we can never predict what tomorrow will bring us. Balancing time to do what we want to do and what we have to do can be very difficult. It may even cause us to occasionally make sacrifices in our lives and schedules.
Time is very precious and goes by so quickly. It only makes me wonder, what if I had gotten behind a slow driver that day and been a couple of minutes late getting home, or what if I was being lazy that day and my butt was dragging while getting ready, I could have even just said I was too tired and not even gone out. Everything would have had a completely different outcome and I got very lucky this season to have everything work out in my favor. This may not always be the case but no matter what I will forever be grateful for the time I do have in the woods with my dad, with or without a harvest.