By Alex Comstock
A lot has happened in the whitetail woods since checking in with the last journal post. If you've been following along with us here at WhitetailDNA, you've probably noticed a lack of content in the last week or so. Most of that is attributed to spending day after day in a tree, and if I'm not in a tree, I'm in school for bits and pieces of the day. For about the last week, there has been a serious uptick in deer movement, and I was literally minutes away from having a chance to put down what would have probably been my biggest buck to date.
The hunting has gotten significantly better starting this past Thursday, November 10th. I hadn't had an encounter with a mature buck since the end of September, and since Thursday I've seen three, and possibly a fourth. Most bucks that I've seen have been hot on the trail of a doe, and if they haven't been on a doe, they've been looking for one. I've seen receptiveness to calling, having called in bucks with a bleat can, and rattling. With all of that being said, I wanted to explain how I was so close to putting down a big mature buck.
Saturday November, 12th: Saturday morning we were a little bit late getting out of the door. During this time of the year, I like to be set up usually about 45 minutes before first light. After dropping Tyler off where he was hunting and getting parked where I needed to walk in, it was 6:20am and legal shooting light was about 7am. I had a long walk in, and started for the stand. In most cases, I approach my stand very slowly and quietly, but with it already being so close to legal shooting light, I pretty much walked at a decent pace straight to my tree.
6:45am: I climbed up the tree, and stepped into my treestand. Seconds after stepping into my stand (before I even clipped in my harness) I hear the loudest grunting I've heard in my life. I look up, and can see something running right at me. It was still dark enough where I put my binos up to get a better look and could see it was a doe. She ran right under my stand (5 steps away), and as she came under me I could still hear the grunting, and suddenly something emerged from right where she came from. Binoculars went up again, and I could tell it was a buck. His head was to the ground, and it was just dark enough still to not see him the best. But as he got closer and closer to my treestand, he kept getting bigger and bigger in my binoculars. (This whole time my bow is still at the base of the tree, and my camera is in my backpack). The buck gets to five steps from my tree, stops, looks up towards the doe, and lets out a loud, deep grunt. With him being so close to me, I could see him really well in my binos, and he was a giant. From what I could tell, he was roughly a 160 inch buck with a 5x5 frame, and clearly mature. I'm not positive if he's a buck I have pictures of, but I have an idea on what buck he might be. Regardless, it was an unreal experience, but I can't help but think what would have happened if it would have occurred ten minutes later.
6:55am: I didn't get much time to do much of anything after the buck went off behind me chasing the doe around. I just had enough time to haul my bow up, and nock an arrow before I looked up and saw another buck headed my way. By now, it was light enough where I could see him pretty well, and after getting my binos up, I could see he had a split G2, and identified him as a buck I've gotten pictures of and knew he was a shooter. It was on the brink of shooting light, and he made his way to about ten yards from my tree, and stopped when he got downwind of where the doe had ran by previously. He was perfectly broadside, and I drew back my bow. I could see my pins, but I couldn't tell what I was aiming at. I knew my pin was on the deer, but had no idea where on the deer. I needed literally another minute of light or so to be able to make an ethical shot. I stayed at full draw, opening he would stand there for awhile, and give me more daylight to make a shot, but he quickly took off in the same direction as the doe, and I wasn't going to send an errant arrow at him.
The rest of that morning, no shooters presented themselves, and let me tell you, that whole encounter was the coolest, most frustrating encounter I've ever experienced. To have two big mature bucks within ten yards of my stand was awesome, but the fact that I was at full draw, and couldn't release an arrow was a tough pill to swallow. The next week of hunting should be good, as we have a major drop in temperature coming next weekend. I'll keep at it, and hopefully one of these mature bucks slips up sooner than later!