This year I tried to be extra-intentional about only hunting when I had a prime wind in prime conditions to where I could access a prime spot. If any of those factors were missing, I simply stayed home. But when those factors all clicked in harmony, I have done my best to be in the woods. Now, as of when I am writing this specific post, I am still the proud owner of my buck tag, but this year has been my best overall and favorite to date in Ohio.
When Ohio’s archery season opened, I was leading undergraduates on the field trip to Winous Point Marsh Conservancy. Because I had drawn into the first 2 weeks of the season in an urban archery deer management program, and only had those 2 weeks to hunt the zone I had drawn, I was a little bummed to miss the opener. Upon returning to Columbus, I made a quick scouting trip to my zone after work and found a couple trees in spots that looked promising. In order to “earn my buck” tag, the urban program required me to shoot 2 antlerless deer. Normally, having to take 2 antlerless deer in a couple weeks’ time, would have seemed like a tall order on the public land I have been used to hunting in Ohio, but I was confident I could make it happen. Given the amount of sign I noticed on my short scouting hike and given the fact that I saw several deer up and on their feet while walking around, I thought it was reasonably possible.
On Wednesday, October 4th, 5 days into the season and nearly halfway into my allotted 2 weeks, I finally got a favorable wind to slip into the best spot for a morning hunt. Unfortunately, I was halfway from my truck to the stand, when I bumped a group of deer out of the zone that had been feeding on some red oaks upslope from the tree I was planning to hunt. 2 steps from the bottom of the tree, another deer started blowing and snorting in the opposite direction. It was definitely not an ideal start to the morning.
It was nearly an hour and a half into my hunt, when I spotted a deer feeding through the old overgrown field and into the corner of the zone where I was perched over the oaks which were actively dropping acorns. A quick check of the binoculars revealed a lone doe headed in my direction. Once inside 30 yards, she spent a good chunk of time feeding slowly towards my tree but always quartering strongly towards me. After several minutes, she offered me a perfect broadside shot at top pin range. With a well-placed arrow, she barely made it back to the overgrown field before tipping over. One down.
I quickly climbed down, grabbed my arrow, threw a temporary tag on my doe, and climbed back up to continue hunting. Just 15 minutes later, a group of deer spilled off the ridge behind me and angled down towards the bench where I was sitting under the majority of the red oaks. This time, the biggest doe gave me a slightly quartering towards shot within just 30 seconds of easing into range. I was ready and my second perfect arrow of the morning was stuck in the ground. The deer scattered in all directions and within seconds I had punched my second tag of the day. Just like that, I was in the buck hunting business.
As easy as the hunt was, hauling both does back up the hill to the top of the ridge where my truck was parked in the suburban subdivision was quite the chore. In fact, it was probably the hardest I have worked for a whitetail. In the urban/suburban hunt zone, making quick and easy work of the deer via the quick-quarter and backpack method was out of the question. Ugh. Two and a half hours later, I had successfully moved both deer the measly 300 yards from where they fell and into the back of my truck. I could not imagined having my buck tag in hand after a single hunt, and I was excited to see if I could get an opportunity at an urban giant.