Hunt 1: Opening Morning
I arrived on stand approximately 5 minutes after I parked the truck. I had decided to hunt an area close to home and was going to spend the morning doing some recon. Part of the challenge of hunting multiple states is that it really cuts into available time to scout. So, for my first morning in the VT woods I decided to check some areas that had proved fruitful in the past. I did hear some deer snorting down below me, but it was still dark and I couldn’t tell what they were upset at. They didn’t hear me, smell me, or see me so I hoped they were just upset about something else and would come my direction. They never did. So, I walked a big loop and checked for sign. I didn’t see much but did jump a deer up when my circle was just about complete. I never got a good look at it and it ran up the hill and out of sight.
So, that sums up my morning hunt. Oh, except for the 3 deer ticks I pulled off the back of my neck throughout the course of the morning. Stupid things.
Hunt 2: Even Stand
I decided to hunt a different location and brought my tree stand along. I chose to sit in the middle of a stand of hickory trees where I have seen a lot of deer in the past, especially during the first week of archery, but the nuts are usually eaten up after the first week of the season and the area becomes harder to hunt with a bow. I sat for a couple hours and saw nothing. But, thanks to the tick repellent I treated my clothes with I didn’t pull any ticks off of me either.
Hunt 3: The One That Got Away
I went back to the same location as the evening before and I brought my tree stand along again. It was a rainy night and there was a light breeze blowing across the hill to the west. I was sitting in the middle of the hickory stand again but in a tree about 3 yards away from the one the night before. I have seen deer come from every direction in this location which is fun but it’s important to stay alert. The whole “Staying alert” thing is much more difficult now that I have an iPhone. Did I mention it was a Sunday afternoon? There were football games to keep up with and the outcome of the Presidents Cup was getting a little too close for comfort. Thankfully, the Pats game was over with before I settled in my tree stand, otherwise I would have been yelling at the squirrels in frustration. Six points? Really? That’s all they could muster up?
Anyway, amazingly enough I wasn’t surfing the web when I looked behind me and noticed a deer walking up the hill at a steady pace. It was one of those sightings where my instinct told me it was a buck. Sure enough, a look through the binoculars confirmed it. He was only 50 yards away at that point and I knew that at the direction he was walking I was going to have a shot at about 35 yards. I still had to verify that he was legal and I watched him through my binocs some more. Sure enough, he was legal - 2 on the right, and 3 on the left with no brow tines. Even though he was only 50 yards he had quite a bit of ground to cover before passing behind my tree stand and presenting me with a shot so I continued to watch him through my binoculars. Then, just like that the entire mood changed. He came to an abrupt stop and threw his nose up in the air. “Uh oh. I know this look.” I thought, although usually I see it from a co-worker or my wife. I felt the wind on the back of my neck and I knew it was over. One whiff was all he needed and he trotted away and out of my life forever…
Perhaps I could manage my sent control a little better but to be honest I don’t really feel that it would have changed the outcome. It was a pretty solid wind and he just happened to walk in straight downwind. He could have easily turned towards me earlier on his way up the hill and the outcome would have very different. So, I’m ok with thinking that there is not much I could have done to change the ending. I liken it to a cribbage hand – there is a little tiny bit of strategy during the pegging process (choosing the location of the treestand in this case) but it really comes down to what cards you are dealt. On this night I was dealt a bad hand and even with a decent strategy the wind direction still hurt me. However, next time I go out I will move my treestand closer to where he was travelling. Although there are hickory trees all over he was on a pretty well travelled route and I can increase my odds a little bit by moving closer that direction.
In the end, it was still a fun night. I was pretty frustrated because I don’t like losing – especially when it comes to chasing the elusive whitetail buck but sometimes that’s how it goes. I guess that’s why I keep going back…