It’s Game Time!
Many may have been watching football this day. To me..."It's Game Time!" means so much more!
The buck looked back at his worthy adversary and gave out a loud snort-wheeze as he postured up and was ready for a fight. Little did this buck know he was no match for the foam antlers and clothe makeup of his opponent!
Each and every November we as deer hunters get pumped up for the rut and all the action that is about to take place when we enter the fields and woods. Our bows are tuned, broadheads are sharp, optic lenses are clean of spots, and boots are laced; all in anticipation to tighten that string and loosen an arrow at a deer of our choosing. All the preparation and sleepless nights come down to that one experience that brings you one with nature. It requires you to outsmart that critter on their turf and you need all the tools possible to help turn the tables.
It was November 24, 2013 as I slipped through the chilly darkness and onto a ridge that bucks use to cruise about in search of their next date. The sun began to do work as the sky lightened with the winter beauty that we as hunters know. The air was crisp and clean. The ground was hard and crunchy. My fingers and toes could feel Jack Frost’s efforts trying to take his toll. But I, I was ready and knew the bucks were still active as the rut was winding down. My Heads Up Decoy whitetail buck was in my pack awaiting its’ deployment. I just needed a worthy adversary to pit my wits against.
After moving about slowly on that ridge and not seeing the bucks I was looking for I decided to work my way into unchartered territory. This was my first time reaching this area and after 4 miles I was considering the validity of my location. The sun was now up and it was a blue bird day. Squirrels scampered about reluctantly as if looking for the last of their preparation for the cold winter and future snow storms. They didn’t seem to care much about me but wanted to stock up their supplies for their winter retreat.
It was warming up fast and I contemplated making my way back towards the truck when I decided to push on just a bit farther to see what was ahead. Up to this point I hadn’t seen the deer I normally do. I spotted a pretty good clearing ahead and quickly noticed a doe in the middle, alone and feeding. I watched her and spied around to see if there may be a buck nearby. She fed on and into the timber as I crept forward.
Just like a ghost emerging from the darkness; a doe erupted from the timber and ran into the meadow about 200 yards away. Something had to be pestering her. Just then a nice buck emerged with his nose pressed to the ground. He was a dandy 5 point for this area and very conducive for a closer look!
Nothing separated us but the clean air and frosty open meadow. He began to push that doe up a small hill across the meadow as I moved along the edge of the timber only when they were not looking my way. I contemplated pulling my HUD out and fixing it on my bow but decided to get closer before doing so. The doe finally moved over the hill and the buck stopped to rub a tree allowing me to close the gap a bit more. Just before he went over the hill he looked back to see if anybody may come into his bedroom it seems. I remember seeing his antler tips disappear as he went over the hill and then it was game time!
I was within 100 yards now as I quickly put boots to ground and crossed the meadow. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill I removed my pack and pulled out my whitetail buck decoy and fixed it to my bow. The foam antlers were positioned and I was ready within 30 seconds. I worked my way up the hill and just before cresting the top I removed an arrow from the quiver and snapped the nock onto the string. I was inching forward where the doe had crossed trying to make it appear that another buck was on her trail. I spotted her just ahead looking back at me. She was concerned but not spooked. She was probably thinking, “Great, I have to deal with another hormone intoxicated buck…..what gives?” But regardless I kept pushing forward with no sign of the buck.
I stopped and let out a grunt hoping this would make the buck appear but nothing happened. The doe was standing 40 yards away in the bottom of the small draw. The buck was nowhere to be seen. Just then another doe came running into the draw as if she was being pushed by a buck and not far behind her the buck stepped out below me at 35 yards with his head to the ground. He had no idea I was there and he quickly took up pursuit of the doe heading up the opposite side of the draw. I ranged him as he walked up the hill…..41, 43, 45 and I grunted stopping him at 47 yards as he turned broadside and looked back at me.
As soon as he seen the decoy he postured up, pinned his ears back and let out a magnificent snort-wheeze. He was ready for a fight and I am sure he would have came right into my lap if I wanted to let him. He was ready to close the distance but I opted to take my shot then. I lowered my range finder. My release hooked my d-loop and the string tightened as my muscles worked together to bring the bow back to full draw. I completely forgot about the decoy as I split my 40 and 50 yard pin and held low behind his shoulder. He was mad there was another buck close to his girl. As soon as he moved his near side shoulder ahead my release spit out the loop and the energy of the limbs projected my arrow forth. I couldn’t have placed that arrow in a more perfect spot! The sound of the broadhead making contact is a sound I crave and can never forget!
The buck make a quick sprint up the opposite hill away from me as I could see blood pumping out of both sides. He wouldn’t be going far after he went out of sight. I picked up my crimson red colored arrow and another smile and warm feeling came over me. I couldn’t help but stare at it for a bit with a huge grin. Weight was lifted off my shoulders as I knew I was punching another tag today.
70 yards from where that buck was standing had me admiring a truly handsome specimen. I knelt down in front of the buck taking his antlers in my hands, feeling his soft coat and praising the Lord and the powers that be for allowing me another amazing experience. The meat of this buck will bring many good meals my family’s way!
I headed back to gather up my belongings and put my pack back together and prepare for the pack out. I rested my bow with the decoy still attached up against a tree and was replaying the events in my mind when I heard a buck grunt. I looked up and noticed a young buck following the does scent right to where I stood. As soon as he saw the decoy he froze in his tracks and became aggressive but knew the buck looked bigger. He circled my position as I was able to get away with the movement of taking my camera out of my pack. At 15 yards I know he could see me moving but the decoy had his mind locked that I was another buck. Amazing what these decoys can do!
Without the Heads Up Decoy on this hunt I don’t think I would have gotten a shot at that buck. The decoy kept that doe at bay allowing me to slip into range on the buck. Without the decoy they would have taken off leaving me pondering the what ifs and should haves. I have had numerous experiences using various HUD’s and each time they have helped me in my quest for putting meat in my freezer.
After caping and deboning the buck I had a 4.5 mile pack out and with each step of the way I had a smile on my face! Another day of going in light and coming out heavy! I love this game! God is Great!