Sometimes you just have to venture outside your comfort zone. I almost didn't and it almost cost me this nice buck.
If you've read any of my prior posts, you know I'm a died-in-the-wool dominant tree hunter (click on the link if you aren't familiar with that term.) Trail hunting just isn't something that I normally have patience for, but that's what it took in this case.
My hunting partner Ted and I spent opening weekend hunting chestnut oaks and videod numerous small bucks and does every time we were in the stand. On Sunday night, we were hunting a cluster of chestnut oaks with a very well travelled deer trail running through the center. As the light was fading, I heard a squirrel barking in a nearby hollow and thought it was likely that a deer was on the move. About five minutes later, I heard what sounded like a deer crunching acorns and turned to get a fleeting glimpse of a large bodied buck easing quietly through the woods about 70 yards away in the direction that the nearby deer trail headed.
I couldn't see any of the details of his rack, but based on his body size and shape, I knew he was a mature buck. I had time to try a few grunts to entice him over, but darkness came without getting another glimpse of him.
On Monday afternoon, I decided to return to figure out why he was where he was. Starting from the tree we had climbed on Sunday, I guesstimated where he had been and made my way over there. It turned out to be where the deer trail that ran through our previous hunting spot intersected a grown up logging road.
There was nothing in the immediate area that looked like it would hold deer. No acorns. No persimmons. Obviously it was a travel route, but to where?
I figured that he must have been headed to one of the other numerous chestnut oaks in the area, so with my climbing stand on my back, I set off on a half-mile loop to check for fresh sign. As I ruled out one tree after another, I was growing frustrated and almost decided to head back to the truck rather than "waste" an afternoon hunting a low probability spot.
Fortunately, I had talked with Ted by phone earlier and he had encouraged me to hunt a trail if necessary since there was so much food on the ground nearby. What the heck. An afternoon in the woods beats an afternoon driving home. I decided to give it a shot.
Boy am I glad I did.
At about 6:00 I heard a faint noise and eased up out of my seat. Within a minute or two I spotted movement on the logging road. Seeing long white antler tines instantly sent a jolt af adrenaline surging to my heart. The buck stopped about forty yards away and rubbed his face against, then chewed on, something that I couldn't quite make out. As he stood there for what seemed like an hour (but in reality was probably more like a couple minutes) I forced myself to concentrate on staying calm by repeating my little archery pre-shot mental checklist.
I actually had succeeded in calming the roar in my chest somewhat by the time he continued his slow saunter toward me. As he stepped behind a small tree I drew my bow, then waited for him to hit the scent from a Tinks #4-soaked scent wick. I had positioned the scent so that he would smell it about ten yards before he smelled me. I checked the Tiger Whiskers wind sensor on my stabilizer to make sure that the wind hadn't shifted. Luckily it hadn't.
Just like it had been scripted, he hit the scent stream, stopped, and lifted his nose. I made a good smooth release and kept my sight pin on his vitals until I heard the thud-whack of a clean pass-through shot.
He ran about forty yards, stopped, wobbled, and fell. Yes!
He was a tall-racked eight pointer with one additional abnormal point. He green scored 145 4/8 gross and 137 net. Almost three inches of the deductions were due to the abnormal point located next to his left brow tine.
I don't think that I'll go back to hunting trails often, but I'm sure glad that I gave it a shot in this case.