One more for the road...

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bowhunter1023

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When we first pulled into the driveway of what would become the first home we would own together, I looked at Tracie and said: “We can kill deer here.” That was 9 years ago and despite being only 2.34 acres, the property surrounding our house has given us more “hunting” memories than I could have ever imagined. From exciting springs with beard dragging gobblers meeting their demise within mere yards of the playhouse, to a big male coyote in artic conditions, to multiple big does and even a couple decent bucks, this property has yielded far more than either of us ever expected. With woods along both sides (travel corridors) and an acre of woods in the back that’s part of a 1,000-acre block of woods, with very little hunting pressure in the neighborhood, it’s as strategically located as a small property can be. Entering the season and knowing this is likely our final hunting season here in this house, I wanted to make sure we put one more memory in the bank and a little more meat in the freezer. In the same way, this place has never disappointed when it came crunch time to keep “The Streak” alive, it didn’t disappoint in giving me one last memory for the road.

Two years ago on the Sunday of gun season, I killed an 18” wide 6-point. At 5.5 years old, he was one of only two older age class bucks I’ve physically laid eyes on in 9 years of living here and thousands of trips down our road, passing quality deer habitat the entire way. In addition to not seeing many older bucks, we don’t see many “big” bucks either, so when I do see a good one around the house, I take note! Late last July, I spotted a “good one” and I’d have sworn at the time he was the Big 6’s twin brother. I would see him every so often through the fall and in the back of my mind, I knew if I still had a buck tag to fill after muzzleloader, he, and any other good neighborhood buck, were in danger of getting arrow’d in my backyard!

With 100+ hours of treestand time under my belt before gun season, and a buck tag still haunting me, I shifted focus from my hunting to putting my wife on a deer so we could maintain “The Streak”. I hung a camera behind the house to assess the situation ahead of gun season and as always, the pile of golden acorns started drawing deer in from all over. We had three candidates to consider including a main-framed 6x6 that was later killed on Saturday of gun season, a unique racked 2.5 year old we both wanted to shoot and the Big 7, which turns out to be the same buck I saw back in July. After seeing him in pictures, it almost seems certain either the Big 6 is his father, or they share a father/mother. And at 3.5 years old, he’d make a great buck for Tracie. However, he would no-show all of gun season and managed to avoid detection during the 2-day season as well. It wasn’t until the cold snap at Christmas that he showed back up. Late Christmas day as we sat in the house playing with the girls’ new toys, he stood broadside to my blind for over an hour. The next afternoon, I was in the blind. At 5:15, I was having trouble seeing my pins. A quick visual inspection of the surrounding woods and a good listen indicated the coast was clear, so I hustled back to the house to avoid spooking deer. At 5:28, 10 minutes before the end legal shooting light, he was at the corn. I was beginning to take things personally, but knew we still had muzzleloader and I really felt like Tracie would be the one to do the honors.

We saw him multiple times before the New Year, then he vanished like a fart in the wind. From everyday regular, to what I presumed was dead. By now, the funky racked buck was becoming a regular, along with a nice basket racked 8. With “The Streak” continued another year, I had to face eating another buck tag or getting the job done one way or another. I decided I was killing something with antlers behind the house for the main reason of food acquisition, but also because I needed to redeem myself after two piss poor shots in 2016. When I saw the approaching winter storm, I knew conditions would be perfect for not only shooting a deer, but letting one hang, which I love doing. Last Friday I started preparations by moving the blind to provide better cover and easier access when sneaking out in the evenings. I also added hay to the floor and set it up with cold weather provisions like a heater and sleeping back. I waited for the freeze/snow to end on Saturday, then I hauled up the first two full 5-gallon bucks of feed. One all corn, the other rice bran, roughly 25#s in each bucket and the secret recipe that only those in the Grape Drank Mafia are aware of, got sprinkled all over the top…

Sunday night was the night. I knew it was going to happen. Settling in around 4, it had the feel of being “the night” just like I thought it’d be and then… my neighbor fires up his old beater and commences to loading firewood 50 yards behind me. No problem. We’re hunting “slightly suburban” deer, they are used to this, so I wait him out and by 5, he’s back at the house with the fire rolling and a cold one in his hand. Not 5 minutes after he left, here comes the first of what I’m certain will be several deer. It’s a little doe and she comes straight into the bait. I’m watching her and all of a sudden, I take a blind roof to the head! WTF?!? Son of a bitch! Lmao

She snorts, I scramble out of my collapsed blind and realize my heater was melting light fluffy snow and making wet heavy snow, which brought the roof down on my head. Alright, so not tonight. Tomorrow.

Monday night I’m in the blind by 4:15, but it’s a new routine and more can go wrong. See, my wife is not home from work, which means I have the girls. Normally, the 5-year-old is not taking a nap, but you know what, it was a school day, so you need to take a nap. And BTW, I’ll be out back. If you wake up, just talk to me on the monitor. The 11-month old has a video monitor which just so happens to work 100 yards away in the ground blind. Perfect! But… dad duty could ruin a hunt, so it’s just a roll of the dice.

So anyways, there I am with two sleeping kids and deer all over the bait. There’s still 45 minutes of light and I have most every deer in the neighborhood hanging out 20 yards in front of me. The wife pulls in and prolongs the hunt, but she puts the deer on edge since they can see her pull in and get out to walk in the house. No sooner than they relax, the neighbor across from us pulls in and commences to blow every deer out of there by banging his trash cans around as he picks them up and tosses them in the bed of the truck. Shit. Well, maybe tomorrow.

Nope. I need to stay in and cut up Tracie’s deer, plus, it’ll let things mellow out back there. At 5:30, Tracie and I stood in the dark in our bedroom, both using binoculars to check out the Big 7 as he emerged from the forgotten and proceeded to take over my bait pile for his own. He spent the remainder of legal light running other deer off and posing broadside to my blind. I just laughed. That’s the story of my entire hunting career: day late and a dollar short. Maybe tomorrow…

Wednesday is a tough roll of the dice. I’ll have the kids again, this time until 6:15 due to the wife having yoga after work. Nap schedules are off, but I roll the dice and somehow, by 4:30, I’m in the blind with two sleeping kids and a strange sense of “no really, it happens tonight”…

At 5PM sharp, I put my phone away and lean ever-so-slightly to look towards the bait and there he stands. “No shit…” is the first thought in my mind and then, a little dose of “The Fever”. But I’ve been here before and this time, I have time. Slowly, I calm myself and ready the Mathews for what may be its last kill. I’m waiting for a broadside shot as he feeds at 23 steps. I look up and here come 4 does, trotting down the hill and I know that’s what it’ll take to get him to move into position for a shot and sure enough, it works to perfection. I draw, lean to clear the window, check my bubble and then I hear Brock say “enjoy aiming”. I remember how bright the lime green pin looked as my bow surprisingly went off and I watched the white nock disappear behind the lime green. As he bounded off, I knew I’d executed perfectly and that the stench of last year was gone. I’d redeemed myself.

At 6:10, I slammed the tailgate to my truck, the Big 7 safely inside and safe inside my house, still asleep, my two beautiful little girls. Killing one in the backyard is not killing one somewhere more “epic”, but the real value in your hunts is the value you take away from the experience. As someone who takes pride in being a provider, doing so with food acquired on my own land in an ethical and efficient manner, that’s lasting value that will surpass 99% of all my hunts.

Thank you to all my TOO brothers that constantly provide support and encouragement. I spent 141 hours chasing deer this year and there were times, I did it because I feel compelled to grind it out for you guys. I’ve never hunted harder than I did this year and as a result, I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied with the outcome of a season than I am with this one. That’s TOO good.
 

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#18
Another very enjoyable read, Jesse! Congratulations again. He's a dandy buck and would have been the same deer if you'd hiked ten miles into the Wayne to hunt him. Nicely done!
 

bigten05

*Supporting Member*
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knox county ohio
#20
Congrats again always enjoy your write ups. The first thing I said to my wife when we bought our place is I can kill a deer here I've killed 5 does in five years here and it's only 2 acres you don't always need a couple hundred acres to fill the freezer.