A good friend of mine, Kevin Roark, mentioned that I would be welcome to hunt on his property which has a total of 12 acres. The front section featured 6 acres of flat grass and pasture with the back 6 acres being wooded and very steep. I welcomed this new opportunity as much of the area that I had hunted for the past 10 years had been sold off for new housing developments.
Kevin’s place was also out in the country and that would prove to be a big advantage later on. Kevin invited me out to take a tour of the ground. We were able to drive my car right down to the bottom part of the pasture land. I parked right next to a vintage wooden barn, and we got out to walk around for a bit.
There were several nice-sized walnut trees on the property, and Kevin explained that his family had planted those years ago.
Two of these trees were situated side by side about 15 feet between them. I decided this was as good a place as any and I set my trail camera up on one of them. The first tree was 20 yards in front of the barn, and I had a vision that the deer might walk between the two trees as a natural funnel when they entered the bottomland. We had the camera set, and Kevin pointed out the areas where he consistently saw deer in the evenings. For the first look, I developed a good feeling about the area, and the trail camera pictures would give us a good idea of the deer travel patterns.
I was back at Kevin’s at week’s end to retrieve the SD card, and I put a fresh card in the camera. I was anxious to see what we had in the way of pictures, and I’d brought my SD card viewer so I could view them immediately. I put the card in the viewer and I was thrilled with what I was seeing. There was plenty of deer on the card including a couple of decent bucks, and some of them were walking right between the two walnut trees before they entered the field. My head began to buzz a little bit thinking that I needed to use this natural tree funnel to my advantage.
I began to look at the barn, and I noticed that it had an overhanging roof of about 10 feet which was used for equipment storage. The first part of this section was empty, and then it hit me: I should set my blind right up against the barn and use the barn as a cover. The overhanging roof would keep it out of the rain, and also greatly reduce the chances of the blind being blown away in high winds. That was it – the plan was set; I would just need a decent buck to enter the field between the two walnut trees, and that should give me the opportunity for a shot.
I reset the camera so we would have another round of pictures when I returned.
My wife Carla went with me to set the blind up on a nice Monday evening. This has always been our recurring routine since we first started dating 16 years ago. Carla goes and sets the blind up while I check the camera and check all of my possible shooting distances through the range finder. Carla had the blind up in a short time and we left to go home and view the SD on the computer.
We arrived home and I anxiously put the
SD card in the computer. Picture after picture began to come up and it was looking pretty good. After carefully reviewing all of the pictures, I determined that there was a total of 8 does and yearlings with another 5 bucks that were routinely coming out on most evenings. None of the bucks were huge, but a couple of 8-pointers were in the mix. The first day of archery season would be this coming Saturday, and I was planning to slip into the blind in mid-afternoon and wait on the deer to hopefully enter the field at dusk.
I settled into the blind and got situated for the evening hunt. I sit on a 5-gallon bucket with a heated cushion, so I made sure my seat and shooting stick were all adjusted accordingly. It was a pleasant evening with little wind, so hopefully, the deer would be moving. Right before dusk, I saw some movement. A doe and her yearling walked up into the field on the other side of the trees at about 45 yards. They milled about for a few minutes before walking off to the left towards the pasture. These were the only deer sighted, but it was a fun hunt.
The first deer that walks in every year is always something special.
I was back in the blind the following evening. This spot has a huge advantage in that I can walk in on all grass with a very silent approach. I settled in and waited for dusk to set, but I didn’t have to wait that long for things to get going. I was sitting there quietly when a buck appeared right in front of the blind. He walked in during broad daylight from behind me much in the way I had walked in. He paused for a couple of seconds and I hurriedly sized him up. He was the buck I nicknamed “High-Hat” because his antlers grew straight up.
I tried to get the crosshairs of my scope on his chest, but he continued walking until he was out of my desired shooting range. I didn’t get him but it was nice to see that the deer in this area were not spooky and they moved around during daylight hours. That was the main event for the day, so now I would have to see what tomorrow would bring. The next day was much the same. I settled in on a nice, pleasant evening. It took a couple of hours of sitting as I had to wait until dusk for some developments. Right at dusk a doe and her yearling walked in right between the two walnut trees and were grazing right in front of me. The daylight was sinking fast, and I only had 7 minutes of legal shooting light. Just then another deer appeared behind the first two, and I could see the nice-sized antlers glowing in the twilight. This was a bigger buck that I did not have any pictures of. He stopped and put his head down behind the big doe, and I put my lighted crosshair right behind his front leg. The broadhead made a loud “slap” when it struck him, and he ran as hard as he could out into the darkness of the field.
I sat there for 30 minutes before I began to look for any sign of the deer. With my flashlight, located my arrow sticking in the ground 10 feet behind where the deer was standing and it was covered with blood. I looked around some more for a blood trail, but I could not find one. It was time to take a couple of minutes, so I walked up to Kevin’s house to tell him what had transpired.
Kevin gave me a bottle of water and I called my good friend Tom Lawson on the phone.
I had talked with Tom previously and he said he would come out if I ever needed assistance. Kevin and I talked for a few minutes, and then I drove over to Tom’s and picked him up. He brought his backpack and tracking light – so I knew we had a very good chance of recovering the deer.
We were soon back down in the pasture with flashlights, and I showed Tom and Kevin my arrow. Tom remarked….”That is great – looks like a dead deer!” We spread out looking for any signs of blood and began to work our way down the pasture in the direction that I thought the deer ran.
After about 10 minutes we had not found anything. Tom said that there had to be blood and that we just missed it. We doubled back to where I shot the buck and began looking in the opposite direction. After a couple of minutes, Tom said…”He ya go- Lee come look at this.” Tom found the blood trail, and it was straight out from the blind and not off to the left as I thought.
The deer ran down through a creek and up the steep bank on the other side. The blood trail was very heavy and Tom said…
“This is what you want – he went up this bank and he’ll be laying up there on the flat.” We began to climb the bank and the blood sign was heavy. Before we got to the top, Tom said…”There he is!” The deer had traveled 60 yards.
We looked at the deer and Tom remarked what a nice buck he was. He wasn’t the widest buck but he did have two long tines.
The deer also had a huge body, and it was the heaviest deer I have ever harvested. Even though it was downhill, it took a lot of effort for us to pull the deer down the hill, across the creek, and into the flat pasture land.
Kevin was there waiting on us and he was very pleased with the buck. I felt very blessed with the harvest and the time of fellowship. As it turned out, Tom and Kevin knew each other from years ago, and three friends were able to spend a nice time together. My “Barn Buck” will always be special since it was the first one from this new spot, and the barn helped blend my blind in for the perfect cover. I can’t wait to give it another try this fall coming fall!