Weekend two of the season was much better. A buddy sent me to another wilderness area he’d heard of people having some success in. I skipped the morning hunt on Saturday because I didn’t want to repeat the weekend before and drove two hours out there.
There was another car when I got to the trail head but I put my camo in and hiked in with my bow. About 1.5 miles and 1000’ vertical up there was a small meadow towards the top of a huge ridge. I decided to just still hunt up and rattle whenever I found a nice looking spot.
I got about half way up and found a nice rub on the trail. I decided to just rattle on the trail for kicks, apparently a guy killed a stud on the same trail two years before by rattling.
I did by best impression of an aggressive blacktail fight and sat down.
A few minutes later, I saw movement coming down the trail and started to draw. I let down when I saw a broadhead poke around the corner. An older fella with a huge pot belly came hustling towards me with an arrow nocked.
I stood up (scaring the crap out of him) and said hi. The guy was completely out of breath and asked if I had just rattled. Not sure how he was planning on shooting 😂. He said the only poop he’d found had been up around the meadow. With an two hours of light left he was hiking back to his truck. I took that to mean I should continue on up towards the meadow and set up there.
I went faster until I got a couple hundred yards from the meadow then I veered off trail and started sneaking through the woods. I got 100 yards from the edge of the meadow and saw a deer staring at me from the far side, 200-250 yards away. At this point there was an hour of light left and 100 yards of brush between me and the meadow. I snuck as quietly as possible for the next 30 minutes and got all the way to the edge of the meadow. The deer (either a small buck or a doe, I’m happy with either) was still well out of effective range but had heard just enough rustling to be curious. It continued to feed and look in my direction and slowly worked closer. By the time it reached 80 yards, it was too dark to shoot past 50. By the time it got to 40, it was too dark to shoot past 20. At that point, four other deer walked into the meadow and walked uphill at 40-50 yards. I waited for them to work off then headed back to the truck.
I met up with my buddy at his place an hour away with plans to head back up together in the morning.
We woke up early on Sunday and got to the trailhead before first light. My buddy had hunted 20 days already this fall and had yet to fling an arrow. He works his butt off training but has had very little success the last couple years.
I kind of ran the game plan and decided we should just still hunt our way up to the top and stop to rattle occasionally. The morning was extremely foggy, we were in clouds most of the day. On the west side of Oregon, much of the rainfall comes from the trees and moss dripping from fog. It wasn’t raining, but in the woods huge drops were falling everywhere.
We slowly made our way up to the top of the mountain with a few rattling setups on the way up. We found some sign but saw no deer. Visibility was pretty low and these deer move so slowly that they’re about impossible to see in the fog.
Once we made it to the top of the mountain, it was a beautiful ridge top dropping off steep on both sides. The thermals were coming uphill strong so I figured it would be great to work along the ridge and rattle for cruising bucks. We set up for another rattling sequence near the blue dot, a few hundred yards above the meadow. The woods were extremely open in a small elevation band right there and you could see where bucks had been cruising through.
for some reason I didn’t take any pictures of the woods up there, but the fog had become extremely thick. I rattled for a minute or two, then we sat and waited for about ten. Mitchell was set up about 60 yards downhill of me, and he gestured for us to move on and find another spot. We still hunted about 80 yards and I heard his bow fire , a thud and the THWACK of an arrow hitting a tree. I never heard a deer run off.
I could see Mitchell standing there looking completely defeated. I snuck down to him. He’d shot at a forkhorn but was fairly certain his lighted nock had flown right beneath it. He hadn’t had time to range and head guessed 30 but it was about 45 at a steep angle. We walked down to look for any blood or an arrow. He said the buck had run off and was long gone. I could see a rocky outcropping about 80 yards beneath where the buck had been standing and I whispered that I bet the buck was standing on the bench below that looking back uphill. I nocked an arrow and snuck my way up onto the outcropping to peer over. The forkhorn busted out from 30 yards beneath me and disappeared into the woods. I’d completely missed him with my eyes and exposed myself too much over the edge. Standing there, we saw Mitchell’s arrow buried about 40 feet up in a tree.
We walked along the ridge for a couple hours and rattled a few times. We found good rubs but didn’t run into any more deer. I wanted to get set up on the meadow by 3 but we didn’t make it there until about 345. We both slowly eased out into the edge of the meadow and set up close to the brush. After sitting there for a minute a doe that had been hidden in the trees on the far side of the meadow started blowing. She’d watched us the whole time and raised the alarm.
About thirty minutes later, I heard Mitchell whisper, “Do you see it?” I looked all over the place for about 30 seconds trying to find it. A huge buck walked right out into the sunlight from behind a tree and I said “Jesus!” so loud that he froze and stared our way for a minute. He walked up above where the does came out and stared down into that corner. He stood frozen at 103 yards for about 5 minutes looking for the does. It was absolutely dead calm, so I could make a move in him like I normally would have. He turned and slowly started working our way. I ranged the top of the meadow, and he would be inside 35 if he came above me. He got behind the one huge bush in front of me and started walking directly at me. I slowly adjusted for an uphill shot and he froze at 50 yards. He was 58 yards from Mitchell but it was an uphill frontal shot from the seated position. The buck stood there for a little bit and relaxed, then took a hard 90 and jogged through the trees at the top of the meadow. A minute later, the forkhorn Mitchell had shot at that morning did the same thing.
That was the last we saw that day. I’d almost set up on the top side of that bush for a different set of shot angles, if I would’ve I’d likely have my first blacktail.
Afternoon 1, Georgia:
Spent the whole day building shit in my moms new house but got out for the last three hours of light on the big farm. The whole area is hardwoods in steep North Georgia hills. I had found a small trail along the edge of the bass pond down beneath the house back in turkey season, and my to-be step dad had seen some new rubs on it.
I hiked down to the pond and set up on the trail with my back against a pine. I slid down the hill and walked down the creek until I got stuck in 2.5 feet of mud and had to drag myself out with a branch.
Sitting right on the edge of the pond, I had a 12 yard shot across the water at the trail and no other shooting lanes. I’m on the close left corner of the pond in this picture.
I saw nothing for the first two hours. With about 40 minutes of light left a string of does came out on the hill way up to the right. They were probably 150 yards above me walking parallel. I sat and watched with the binos for a few minutes until I heard some crunching. I realized one big doe had veered straight downhill towards me and was halfway down the hill.
I was on crunchy leaves and it was dead calm so I couldn’t turn around. Suddenly the fawns all started crashing down the hill after the doe so I spun around and prayed they didn’t see. She was inside 50 yards but somehow didn’t notice. She cruised right in and crossed the creek, popping up in front of me broadside at 25. I came to full draw and waited for her to stop. I didn’t want to stop her because I had no concealment. She stopped a couple times but never in a good place. She got too far to the right so I stayed at full draw waiting for the other deer to come past. Fawns started walking past at 20 with a doe in tow. I raised up for a shot but she stopped with her shoulder behind the big tree in this picture.
I was just to the right of the pine by the pond and had been at full draw for over a minute. I tried to lean back for an angle and could see her getting nervous about something. Another doe came in behind and stopped just in front of her quartering to me. I settled my pin on the front of her shoulder and shot.
Both does spun around and sprinted back up the hill, I couldn’t tell which one I’d shot. After a three second sprint the doe on the left turned downhill and ran, rolled then slid back down to the creek. Deader n dirt.
I was using a small kudu 2 blade head. It blew straight through her, taking out everything just above the heart. Felt good to see one fall so quick after all of the screw ups this year.
Hunted a huge ravine with the rifle in the morning. Didn’t see shit.
Did some still hunting/ calling then sat a creek bottom in the afternoon. Didn’t see shit.
Georgia Day 3:
Torrential downpours all night long, still raining steady when I got up. I grabbed the rifle and my rain jacket and went on a long slow still hunt. Absolutely beautiful land, I need to take more pictures. Ended up just seeing one small spike up close. Took a video of him without realizing I had my flash on .
Checked some cams and these are two of the three biggest bucks on the property. Nothin too exciting but I’ll shoot the hell out of em.
I drove back down to my moms house in Atlanta to hunt the backyard. They have been busy and only put a half bag of corn corn out once so the deer aren’t keyed in on the back yard yet. I dumped about 2/3 of a bag and sat for the evening after the big cold front moved in. Had one small spike come in and feed and that was it.
Hunting the stand behind my moms house. It has been 50-60 degrees at night all week, it was 29 when I got in the stand this morning. About 45 minutes after light a small fork popped out for a second 40 yards to my left. I grunted at him and he came back ten minutes later.
About 45 minutes later a parade of does started on the far side of the creek. Ten does in total. They went up to some backyards in the next neighborhood over to eat some bird seed then milled around for a while and bedded down. All were within 100 yards.
At this point I was shivering like crazy and trying desperately to keep my hands warm. An hour later 8 of the does stood up on high alert. They messed around then ran off and vanished to the left.
Now there was just on doe I could see, 45 yards away through some brush. I watched her for 45 minutes and decided to get down for a stalk. It was pretty calm but I was so cold I couldn’t sit there any longer. Just before I climbed down a doe stood up at 50 yards on the far side of the creek. I had to wait another 30 minutes to make sure she just bedded back down.
I slowly climbed out of the stand and nocked an arrow. I decided 1 yard per minute was a good pace. 3 yards later the doe across the creek saw my boot beneath a bush and jumped up. She paced back and forth snapping her head around trying to figure out what she’d seen. She looped way back around left to right. I saw the other doe standing up perfectly broadside at 40, but I decided not to take that long of a shot. I was too cold. I edged next to a tree and brush when they were further away.
Eventually they both got 30 yards to my right trying to find something to stare at. My form was broken up enough that the alert doe circled all the way behind me and didn’t find me. Eventually the calm doe started feeding on corn 20 yards in front of me. I got a chance to draw and took it. I settled my pin but my damn glasses were crooked and I couldn’t see. They both had there heads up so I tried to fix it but couldn’t. I had to wait a minute before I could let down. I slowly adjusted my glasses and waited.
The calm doe heard something and busted 7 yards to my left and stopped. She slowly walked back to the corn. After a few more minutes, I had a 45 degree quartering shot at her and took it. She ran off with my arrow about 10 inches behind her shoulder buried to the nock.
I shot her over an hour ago and am waiting another 30 minutes before I go check blood.