Four mornings later, I got a great wind and solid conditions to slip back into the same area where I had the phenomenal 7 buck sightings on my previous hunt. This time, I crept straight into the heart of the cover and found a skinny-trunked sycamore in the absolutely perfect spot and tight to where the action had been that other morning.

The morning dawned cold and overcast with a steady breeze. I was hopeful. Then I glassed and glassed and glassed and glassed some more. It seemed like I glassed so hard my eyes would bleed. There simply was nothing happening in that area on this particular morning. At 9 o’clock, a spike cruised through about 200 yards distant, but it ended up being the only deer between me and an all-out skunking.

That is the toughest thing about hunting public land. The hardest part is not finding a place that can produce an opportunity at a mature buck. The toughest and most frustrating part is not knowing what activity an area experiences on a day-to-day basis. Maybe that morning was a dud because an ambitious group of rabbit hunters gave their beagles a pre-season workout in that field on the Sunday the day before. Maybe somebody made a crappy shot on a doe and trailed it over a half-mile from where they shot it over the weekend. Maybe this, maybe that.