The 2010 archery deer season had been fairly uneventful for me due to a mass acorn crop and more than enough rain; the deer did not have to search for food and water. I had seen only one decent buck, but I managed to take a good-sized doe late in the season. Due to my rigid work schedule and lack of time, I was not anticipating much going into gun season.
Before I knew it, the last day of the regular Ohio gun season was upon me. I woke up early and prepared to leave for a last-chance sit. On my way out the door, my wife wished me luck. “Get a big one so this season can be over!” she said. (I don’t think she was expecting much from gun season, either.)
It was a cold day with temperatures in the teens and wind speeds of approximately 10 mph. I was dressed for action in my Cabela’s Scent-Lok Mossy Oak bib overalls and Rocky boots. I was hunting my mother-in-law’s property at the end of a long, natural funnel that is a popular travel route and bedding area for deer. There is a natural spring nearby with an abundance of browse, as well as an oak and hickory flat. My stand is located in a white oak tree on the flat, 35 yards from an open field. I made my way to the stand at 6:30 a.m. and waited for daybreak for about an hour. After 3 hours, I decided to climb out of the stand. The woods were very quiet, except for squirrels and the occasional gunshot from other hunters. It seemed like a good time to head home for a bite to eat, give my uncomfortably cold feet a break and change into warmer boots.
While I ate my lunch, my mind circled around ideas to ensure I was making the right decisions during the last hours of the season. I had not seen anything promising during the morning sit, so I considered heading to a nearby lake that is open to public hunting. I quickly dismissed that idea and decided to stick with the original plan to hunt my “honey-hole.” I changed out of my preferred pair of Rocky boots, put on my insulated knee-high rubber boots and headed back out.
When I got within half-mile of the property I spotted several does bedded down near the side of the road that had not been there when I left, so I hoped that more deer would be moving into the area. I parked my Jeep, grabbed my rattling antlers and a bottle of Trail’s End deer lure, preparing to sit in my stand for the next 6 hours.
As I walked to my stand, I passed within 100 yards of a barn on the property and heard a grunt. I stopped to look around and spotted a buck in a thicket approximately 60 yards away, bedded on the other side of the barn at the edge of the woods. I crept slowly around the barn and it was then that I sized-up his impressive rack. I got into a crouching shooting position and waited. After only 5 minutes the buck began to stir. I tore my eyes away from his rack and raised my Remington Model 870 12 gauge slug gun. As the deer stood broadside, I put my BSA red dot scope on his vitals and squeezed the trigger. It was obvious he was hit hard, but he still proceeded to take off down the creek bed for one last glory sprint. Just then, a small-racked 8-pointer and a doe jumped up and began to breed. When one life is taken, another is created—nature’s balance is a beautiful thing.
After a short tracking job, I struggled to settle my emotions—and pounding heart—as I stood over the buck in awe. I returned home to my wife and daughters, anticipating their excitement as I revealed my trophy. I told my wife that she should have wished me luck earlier in the season!
As deer season came to a close, I reflected on the ups and downs of the year. Rainy days, people hiking through the creek-bottom close to my stand, missed shots and long work hours that limited my time in the woods were among the frustrating moments. But it’s about focusing on the high points, which, for me, included helping a friend get into bowhunting, a fat doe that added meat to the freezer and one awesome buck that was taken all because of cold feet.