The distinction of being TOO’s May Buck of the Month goes to Dannmann this month. Congrats Dan! For me personally, this was one of my favorite stories of the year knowing what Dan’s 2009 season was like. This story is one of perseverance and dedication; a story of triumph for a truly dedicated sportsman. Thanks for sharing such a great story with us Dan!:smiley_clap:
It's been seven months since opening day weekend and one of my best hunting or fishing experiences ever. I feel honored to be asked to share this story again. Some of you have already seen it, as it was posted here in a thread and on my blog. For those who haven't, I'll warn you now, it's a long story, but that's because it was a heck of a weekend. And I'll tell you what, I'm really glad I wrote it all down, because reading it again brought the memories flooding back full-force - along with some of the details that had slipped my mind. The little details and timeline can fade - so boys, if you have a weekend like this one, jot it down.
To me, this is a trophy deer. Not because he's huge, because he's not. More experienced guys would have passed on him. He's a trophy to me because I correctly recognized an area when scouting and prepared a brush blind accordingly, and then did everything right when the time came. It felt good, after the many failures of the season before. Last season, I finally came into my own, after a couple of seasons of rookieness and a steep learning curve.
The Bucket Buck
The weekend before opening my uncle and I were cutting wood for a landowner (88 yr old guy who heats with wood only – my uncle used to be his tenant and they’re pretty good friends. Great property to hunt and we help keep him in wood). I spotted what I thought would be an excellent place for a ground blind, right between two game trails running parallel along a hillside. There’s a little ravine cut perpendicular to the trails, and you could see where the deer had to go down then pop back up to follow the trails. I brushed in a blind between the trails and between two trees, cleared the floor of it, and looked forward to being there on opening day. Spent the week preparing and checking my gear and list, had the truck loaded and ready to go Thursday night. Friday I left work at midday, went home, hopped in the truck and headed to Adams County. What a beautiful afternoon and drive! When I got to my dad’s trailer, I unloaded everything, made a little dinner (pot pies…mmmmmm) and laid my stuff out for the next morning. I set up my portable ground blind and put my clothes in and smoked the heck out of them, leaving them there until the morning. 4am couldn’t come soon enough….
Got up, microwaved a frozen Bob Evans sausage/egg/cheese biscuit and started getting ready. I can honestly say that I learned a lot from my rookie mistakes last year and this year, I was well prepared. I rolled out on time and got to my hunting spot well before shooting time. So I go into the woods and for the life of me could NOT find my blind. Finally I just sat down and waited for light. I really wanted to be in that blind an hour before shooting time, but fubar’ed it up. Oh well. When it got light enough to move I quickly found my spot and hunkered in. It was still a beautiful sunrise and I enjoyed watching the day unfold.
At 8AM I heard two gunshots, one right after the other, way down the hill. On a topo map I’m about 400 ft higher and 1/4 mile away, but sound travels real good down there. About 5 mins later I hear yelling “Hey, I got two…I got two!” Then other voices joined in and “WOO HOO” was the call of the day. Then I heard chainsaws start up. Pretty easy to figure out what was going on there…..
At 8:15 I decide I gotta stretch, get some stuff outta my pack, and maybe improve my blind a bit, so I stand up. When I did, I saw a deer about 75 yards away. I slowly sat down and watched this deer pop up from the cut and travel right along the path I’d anticipated on my uphill side. I leaned over and picked up my xbow and brought it to my lap. The buck kept walking slowly…stopped once to reach up and lick a branch. All the time I was hesitant to move because I didn’t want to spook the deer. I gotta be honest – this happened fast. At first I thought his rack was broken, then as he got closer I saw it was intact and a decent enough spread to try for. I didn’t count points. So he keeps walking, and I’m not ready to shoot. Then I realize he’s going to walk behind a tree in a couple of seconds and I could raise my bow then, and when he came from behind the tree he’d be in a perfect firing lane. He goes behind the tree, I lift the bow and aim for the lane and he walks right into it. I wanted to “stop” him but I had a mouthful of dip and spit and couldn’t get anything out…so I followed for about a second and let fly. He immediately took off then peeled off UPHILL in the direction he’d come from. He was going thru brush real loud and breaking limbs and making all kinds of racket. I thought I heard him crash, but wasn’t sure. So the wait begins. I did not see the hit, and wasn’t 100% sure if I’d hit. It all happened so fast. I was thinking “2 hrs…gotta wait 2 hrs”. After 45 minutes, I eased out and went to the spot where I’d hit him and to my surprise there was no blood, no hair. Damnit! Couldn’t find the arrow either. The area behind was thick brush and briars, and I wasn’t gonna find it in there. So I started walking up the hill in the same direction the deer went. After a few yards I found a single drop of blood. One drop. So I knew I’d hit it, but not how good. Figured maybe I’d grazed him. So I went back to the stand to wait some more.
45 minutes later I couldn’t take it anymore. 1.5 hrs had passed and it was warming up, so I decided to start tracking. I next found the bolt about 30 yards up the hill from where the deer was, and it was covered in blood from end to end. Very encouraged at this point, I continued up the hill and very soon I saw him. Took a couple of pics with the cell phone then told him “you wait here – I gotta go back and get my pack!” Proceeded to dress him. Now at this point I’ve got to give this deer (his name is Rufus) credit – Rufus had the courtesy to turn around, run uphill, and fall about 50 yards directly behind the landowners barn, and only about 10-15 yards from the edge of the wood line. So I had a 15 yard uphill drag, and then was able to pull my truck down to load him up. Sweet, just too sweet. So I hustled him to the check station, where the proprietor tried his best to convince me that I should have it processed there and have the head mounted. Told him sorry, no thanks, but part of the condition of keeping my marriage running smoothly is to not have any deer mounts in my house or garage. (It’s a concession I gladly make, as my wife is very supportive of my hunting endeavors, even though she really isn’t a big fan.) Then I hustled the deer over to my uncle’s where we hung it and quartered it out and got it in the freezer. My goal is to get my uncle’s freezer filled asap, then start working on my son’s freezer.
Here's the entrance wound...
Here's the exit wound...
So that’s the Rufus part of the story…..preparation and some really good luck made for a good hunt. Not picture perfect like on the hunting shows, but who cares? That shit’s all edited anyway.
But the next part of the story is just as good, even better maybe, certainly something I’ll remember for the rest of my life...