This morning was about much more than just the plainly stated and the titled obvious. But yes, I saw a Boone & Crockett gross buck from my treestand on this day. And no, I did not get to drag him, err…canoe him, out. These are the events of November 4th.
I was not overly discouraged that I needed to move away from the old field that I had been hunting around for the previous week. In fact, I was excited to move back into more inaccessible terrain to hunt, especially given the forecasted NE wind that is incredibly elusive but an absolute requirement to hunt my #1 public land stand in Ohio. My buddy and I also strategized a more stealthy, low-profile approach that would shave quite a bit of walking off our morning hike. Also, if we used the canoe to slip in to our stands, we would eliminate all our scent contamination that sometimes drifts into one corner of the bedding area. Hopes for this hunt could not be higher.
Way before dawn, I was at the base of my tree and working in the pitch black darkness to hang my stand as silently as possible. It took me nearly an hour to successfully do so, working painstakingly and methodically slow, as I had deer working back and forth in front of my set-up almost non-stop. On two different occasions, I could hear bucks grunting and chasing does out in the bedding area.
Finally, I had my stand positioned perfectly and dawn broke. And I saw nothing. Zero. Zilch. Just one time, around 8:30 AM I could some deer grunting and snort wheezing at one another deeper into the bedding area, but that was the only action I had before 10:30 AM. Meanwhile, my buddy was having a public land sit for the ages. A two-year old buck, a yearling buck, a doe and a fawn, another doe and a fawn, 2 more does, another yearling buck, 2 different does, another yearling buck. A non-stop parade of deer the whole morning long. Does moving in to and out of the bedding area with intermittent bucks cruising nose to the ground scent-checking for those first receptive does.
Back to my hunt, just past 10:30 AM I could hear deer pacing down one of the two ridges that dead-end into the steep bluff that border the creek. I am positioned with my back to the creek and overlooking the ditch crossing that connects the two ridgelines. With a loud grunt, almost what I would consider a “buck roar”, the deer burst out of the thick cover and into the slightly more open hardwoods where I could see. Although there are no shooting lanes directly north or south (only due east and west), there is enough visibility to pick apart the cover with binoculars. What I saw through my binoculars, my eyes could hardly believe. There, standing just 30 or 35 yards away, was a bona fide Boone & Crockett grossing buck. Two or three inches outside both his ears, wrist-thick mass throughout his beams and his tines, brow tines that measured 8 or 9 inches, and a towering frame that featured absolute spears for second’s and third’s plus solid G4’s. I could not see a doe, though there surely was one in the immediate vicinity, and he was locked in place. As a couple minutes ticked by and he did not move, I let that image sink into my brain as I studied him through my binoculars. Finally, he slowly turned and moved off in the opposite direction, I have to assume following the doe that still remained unseen. Simultaneous with him turning and walking away, I threw a couple soft grunts out and got an instant response from a button buck that drifted right in below my stand. What an encounter!!
An hour later, at 11:35 AM, a yearling buck came grunting right down the same trail and walked right out in front of the tree inside 15 yards. Oh, for that to have happened an hour ago!! In any regard, I let that buck pass underneath me and wander off before sending my buddy a text that we had better start conserving our respective water and snacks, because it was looking like an all-day hunt was in order.
Not necessary. Just 30 minutes later, I got a return text back that an all-day sit would not be necessary. Deer #13 on his morning had just cruised underneath of him and taken an arrow right in the vitals. He was confident the arrow placement had been on the money and that following the trail would be a mere formality. Success!! He had just connected on his first OH public land buck out of our other quality set-up in this general area.
We convened at his arrow around 2 PM and followed the short trail to his buck before taking field photos, dressing the buck out, and dragging him back down to our awaiting canoe. Thankfully it was all downhill back to the canoe, and after a bit of wrangling, we had the buck positioned for what is surely one of my favorite hunting photos of all-time.