This story is going to be different than most you will read about. In most cases, you will be reading about how myself, or a buddy, or even a reader was able to apply tactics learned, and successfully harvest a Mature buck. This story is going to take a step back and give a friendly reminder that deer hunting isn't always about just killing a deer, but in actuality, much more than that.
In the summer of 2014, I decided I was going to start hunting Nebraska. I have family that lives there, and I wanted to hunt another state, rather than just where I lived. It was going to be my first out of state DIY hunt, and I was really excited about the opportunity. My buddy Ben and I went down early in the summer and put up trail cams, and scouted the property I had permission to hunt on. It looked awesome, and our expectations were high. Later in the summer we went back down to check cams, and what we got on camera pumped us up even more.
We had multiple bucks on camera, with at least two or three for sure shooters on the property. We spent a few days getting stands set up, knowing that we would only be able to hunt a few days in late October.
After getting stands set up, and having everything ready to go, we left and returned home full of anticipation to already be back. We were able to set a date in the calendar and knew we would be back to hunt the last couple days of October into the first couple days of November before gun season rolled in. With it being our first out of state hunts, to say we were looking forward to it would have been a drastic understatement.
Fast forward to October 31, 2014. Ben and myself left early on a Thursday morning and were sitting in a Nebraska treestand in the afternoon. We weren't exactly sure what to expect, but that first day really put down the groundwork. We both saw a good number of deer, and I saw some really good rutting activity, including a little two year old buck practically destroy a tree. The next day was the picture perfect rut hunt. It was one of those days you dream of. The temps were in the low 20's with the high in the 30's. Not to mention the day before it was pushing 60. We both sat sunup to sundown, and saw a ton of deer. I myself saw 13 different bucks, including our number one hit list buck.
Even though neither of us were able to capitalize, it was one of the most fun hunts I had ever been on.
The next two days warmed back up, and the wind was horrible. We still saw a few deer, but nothing we wanted to shoot. Based on what our cameras were telling us, most of the mature deer were moving at night. That Monday, we had to pack up camp, and head back home. You would think that after a hunt like that, where you don't successfully harvest a deer or a mature buck, that you would be bummed out. Except me and Ben were straight giddy. We had a few really cool hunts, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was our first out of state hunt, and in my book, we succeeded. We put ourselves in position to get it done, but just couldn't quite make it happen.
So the next time you put so much pressure on yourself to shoot a big buck when you go hunting somewhere (I do it all the time) take the time to remember that physically shooting a deer is just a small piece of the puzzle. That shouldn't be the only thing that defines a successful hunt, or is the only thing that makes you happy. There is so much else that goes into it. In my case, Ben and I were able to successfully scout a property and identify mature bucks. We were able to successfully put ourselves in position to have a chance at them, even though it didn't pan out. And most importantly of all, we were able to successfully have fun, and remember that it's not just about shooting deer. To me, that's a successful hunt, and it is a weekend that I will remember forever.