The weather has been so beautiful the last 4 or 5 days, but opening day came and went without my being able to get into the deer woods. Friday morning I was lazy and hit the snooze button. But Friday afternoon did find me in a tree.
I headed down to a public land spot on Barbour County WMA that my buddy and I had scouted out a month and a half ago. When I got into the spot, I was pleased to see and hear acorns dropping with every gust of the wind. I had almost made it to my selected tree when a doe and a fawn jumped up and crashed off into the undergrowth. Talk about deflating!
15 minutes later, I was positioned 20 feet off the ground, bow holder screwed in, safety harness in working order, shooting lanes ranged, broadhead double and triple checked, and cell phone shut off.
To the north, almost a square mile of open pine savanna.
To my east, a 40 yard shooting lane with several oak trees dropping.
To my west, more oak trees.
And straight ahead to my south was this little creek at 25 yards. Oak trees for 20 more yards, then 300 acres of 15 year planted loblolly pines.
I was positioned in a hardwood funnel between the 2 different planting of pine trees with the wind in my face.
About an hour and fifteen minutes into my sit, I thought I heard a deer popping an acorn. Using my binoculars, sure enough…a deer’s leg about 60 yards to my west and heading in my direction.
Trying to pick through the thick understory of leaves, I finally managed to see one side of the deer’s head and hark…antler! Unfortunately, that side only had 2 points which had me thinking this buck was not legal. 15 more seconds of glassing though and he had 3 points on his other side. A legal buck!
Because I was on game lands in Alabama, my level of selectivity was at the same level of the legal limit. In other words, if it was a doe without spots or a legal buck, I’m shooting.
He sauntered into range like he was reading the script, but when I came to full draw he made a wandering movement that preserved his life. Off he went sucking up acorns. I let down. Here he comes again, I draw…he saves himself. I let down.
At this point, I thought I saw more movement where the original deer had come from. A quick binocular check revealed a second legal buck. Easily weighing 20 to 25 pounds more than the one I had teasing me at the present. His rack was broken off on one side, but his intact side carried 4 legal points. Now, I’ve got 2 choices.
At one point, the half-rack gave me a good opportunity but when I tried to draw a bead on him, he was so close the stabilizer on my bow was contacting the metal of my climber. While I was gawking around my peep sight trying to determine my next move, my cam grabbed and jerked the arrow back down making a couple minor metallic noises. Not minor in the deer woods though.
The 5 pointer jumped back in the direction of his initial approach, but the half rack bounded in the opposite direction. I was between them. Definitely a good situation considering what could have happened. After a 2 minute standoff, the half rack decided he would be safer with his little buddy.
Trust me…keep reading!
At 17 steps, I grunted…he stopped…time stopped…my pulse quickened…and the arrow was on its way. (Maybe a little dramatic, but I was jacked up considering I was hunting public land in Alabama for the first time with my bow). As he made a semicircle around my stand, I could see arrow sticking out both sides of his vitals and blood pouring out onto his entrance hole side.
Just out of sight, I heard him stop. He hesitated for a couple moments and then I could hear the classic “death dash”. Fist pump, hallelujah, booyah, whatever you want to say. I was very proud of making it happen on my first ever Alabama public land bow hunt.
A couple pictures from the blood trail.
At the impact point.
Arrow fell out halfway down the trail. Looked just like if I had blown an arrow clean through him and stuck in the ground.
“Stevie Wonder” blood trail the whole 75 yards.
As I found him.
Bet you can guess which broadhead I carried to the woods. Rage 2 blade. Vicious. But I’m not saying anything else right now, because after I butcher the deer and have a chance to do a complete autopsy I will have a broadhead review to post. Not as awesome as the entrance wound might indicate! Stay tuned mid-week for that update.
If I look happy, I am. (People have thought that working all these big deer in my research the last 3 or 4 years would spoil me. Thankfully, I’ve been able to separate the two and still appreciate a small racked buck that was earned the right way).
I used my climbing stand to prop up my digital camera and take some hero shots. Took my gear back to the truck, came back with a knife, field dressed him, and started dragging and dragging and dragging. Not a good night to be hunting by yourself. A solid 300-350 yard drag.
As if I wasn’t already proud of my “every man” buck, the check station made me feel even better. Probably 20-25 campers and tents set up. Turns out I had killed the very first deer of the very young season at Barbour WMA. I figured I beat 50 or 60 hunters to the punch as most of them had already hunted 2 mornings and 2 evenings already. Little side note – the scales weighed him at 105 pounds and a jawbone removal put him at 2.5 years old. I had guessed he was just a large bodied yearling buck, but no tri-cusped molar means he was definitely a 2 year old. At this point, I’m really stoked to have had a chance to kill a public land buck and doubly proud of taking him.
So, 2 buck tags left for the rest of the season. Selectivity just increased by an order of magnitude or 10! First buck with a bow since 2006 when I took my 2 Pope and Young qualifiers. First antlered buck taken in Alabama. First public land buck ever taken with a bow.
What a hunt, bowhunting is an unbelievable rush, scouting hard paid off, year-round archery practice paid off. I’m proud of that little half-rack!