Third Times A Charm!

It was mid November, 2002, and the rut in Charles Co. MD was in full swing. I had saved a few vacation days to bow hunt this week, as I usually try to do. A heavy fog settled down on the small woodlot I was hunting that morning, and as a result, I couldn't locate the tree I had planned to hunt with my API climber. I must've stumbled around the woods for a half hour, dragging a scent coated rag, until I found a tree I thought would be suitable.

Finally, sweating profusely, I pulled up the old High Country and hung it up, put on my release, and sat down and started freezing from the sweat I had worked up while lost in the woods. As darkness turned into daylight, I heard the leaves crunching out in front of me, but due to small holly trees I couldn't see the culprit. Sounded like the legs were moving too briskly to be a deer. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Mr. Red Fox trotted by looking for breakfast.

Nice to know the area was "settled" and I had managed to blend into the scenery, or so I thought. Half an hour into daylight, I heard the filmiliar sound of a deer walking in the crunchy newly fallen leaves, again out in front, where the thick Holly trees obstructed my view.

I picked up the bow and readied my release. All got quiet for a minute or two (seemed like 20). "There he is" I said to myself, as I saw a beautiful heavy rack making it's way right toward my tree. Seems he had picked up the scent I had laid out, and was coming RIGHT AT ME!.

I still hadn't drawn my bow, and the deer was literally five feet from the base of my tree. Just wait till he walks off a few yards, then I'll draw I thought to myself, heart trying to jump out of my coveralls. Well, didn't quite happen that way. I guess the ole buck didn't get that way by being stupid, cause all of a sudden he looked straight up at me! The jig was up, and he almost comically, started a slow back pedal until he was obscured by a Holly tree, then turned and bolted. MAN, That will probably be my only chance at a nice buck this week I thought, as I painfully hung the bow back up.

A couple of hours passed, Mr. Fox came back through, and I was getting a little fidgety. Lemme try out this grunt call, I thought to myself. I blew on it in a tending grunt fashion for a minute, and no sooner had tucked it back into my coveralls than I heard the all familiar "CRUNCH,CRUNCH,CRUNCH,CRUNCH" sound of a walking deer coming from behind me.

I spotted the nice buck about 50 yards out, as it was not as thick in this direction. He too was headed right toward my tree, but I decided that I would be ready when he got there. I drew at about 20 yards, as the bucks attention was focused on finding the intruder in his area. He kept coming, and coming, and coming!

When he was at five yards, I settled my impact sight pin just to the side of his spine, as I visualized the arrow heading straight through the vitals and out the brisket....pick a spot, deep breath squeeze the relea...OH SHOOT!!! Before I could figure out what had happened, my bow was lurched forward and almost out of my hand, the arrow was sticking in the ground about 8 feet from the deer, and Mr. Buck was standing there looking around trying to figure out what the hell just happened, as was I.

Stay calm, he still hadn't spooked. Just knock another arrow and... NO WAY... the bottom cam of the bow had hit the edge of my climber, and had caused the cables to jump right off the friggin cams!! At this point I was wondering if a folding buck knife could be thrown with any degree of accuracy, but decided this wouldn't be a good idea.

Having no bow press at the house, I hopped in the old truck and drove to Freds Sporting Goods, 20 minutes away, where I told my woeful tale to Joe at the archery counter. We both got a good laugh. He re-strung the bow for me, and told me to be sure I shot it before I went back out in the woods. I assured him I would sight the bow back in, but wasn't going out till the morning. "Why" he asked. "The rut's kickin, and anytime is a good time to be in the woods." Ok, he talked me into it! So I went home, slung a few arrows, and back to the wood-lot I drove.

After making a heck of a racket again crunching through the leaves to my stand, I jacked back up the tree to about 25 feet and hung the bow up and sat down. It was now about 10:30 am, and my hopes of seeing anything were slim. My wife had just bought me one of those rattle bags for my birthday, and I had never used it, so I figured what the heck, nothing else could go any more wrong than it already has.

I rattled the bag around for about a minute or two and hung it back up. No sooner had I done that, than I heard "CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH GRUNT CRUNCH." No way, this can't be happening, I thought. I grabbed my bow and secured the release to the string. Then I saw him coming the thick way through the Holly. I came to full draw at 15 yards, but had no shot. The buck passed my tree to my left at 10 yards, and had a few steps to clear one more Holly tree. As he entered the lane, I made a soft "mmuurrrp" sound with my mouth, and stopped perfectly. Pick a spot, firm anchor, THWAACKK!!! The buck bolted without the use of his front legs, "snow-plowing" the leaves as his chest was pressed to the ground, and hind legs were kickin like heck.

He went out of sight, and all fell quiet. I got down after about ten minutes, knowing it was a good hit, and had no trouble tracking the path and blood the nice buck had created in his departure. 50 yards later I had him. A beautiful 8 point with a fairly narrow spread, about 17 inches, but a heck of a lot of mass. Just goes to show ya, don't give up, especially in the rut. You never know when or where a good buck will come your way.

by Mike Heckman

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