With my treestand strapped on my back and bow in hand, I headed into my hunting area in search of some fresh deer sign and looking for someplace new to sit. I have been trying a different strategy this year by sitting in a different tree each time I go out. By doing so, I have been able to learn the geography much quicker – with a different perspective every time. I keep finding my same landmarks from different angles and am really able to see how the land slopes in different directions, where the heavy cover is, where the feeding and bedding areas are, and where the deer funnel through. What surprises me the most is how close everything is. While walking on the ground and navigating the undergrowth, it feels like these different areas are far apart, but once I climb up into a tree and get a birds-eye view, I can see I am not far at all from other places I have sat or walked through.
After traversing the hillside, I found an appealing funnel area with fresh deer sign and a food source nearby. Strapping my climbing sticks on a gnarly poplar tree, I climbed up and got situate in my stand. The view was awesome, as it always is when you get to hunt along the shores of Great Lake Superior.
After some time I heard some twigs snapping and noticed movement across the way. The trees were swaying and I thought at first I had another hunter hiking in and setting up – making all kinds of noise. But then I saw tines and could make out the profile of a buck rubbing his antlers up and down the trees. It was difficult to see as he was a solid hundred yards away. Gradually, he vanished – but reappeared later. At least I assume it was the same buck as I spotted him working back down the hill. It looked like a big-bodied fork buck, neck swollen and all rutted up.
Scanning further down the hill, I noticed a large doe feeding. So did the buck. He immediately went down to her grunting away and she took off running directly to me, stopping broadside. I was ready, drew back for a shot, and released. My 125 grain Montec G5 broadhead hit hard in the shoulder and stuck. I panicked. Not a pass-through. She was closer than I had thought. Yet it looked like it penetrated deep. I watched her run back down the hill and could visualize about how far she went. After a moment, I could hear her a couple more times and it sounded like she was struggling – a good sign and not too far away.
After climbing down I proceeded to pack up my stand. That buck was still nearby and could hear me. I could hear him and he was tearing up some more saplings. I made my way over to the point of impact. It was dark now and I shone my light around on the ground. Nothing. Walking another 10 yards down the hill and scanning the grass and leaves with my light, I spotted a blood trail. There was a lot of blood. Immediately I was relieved as I could see from the amount of blood that it was a done deal.
Suddenly I could hear something coming up alongside me to my right. I turned with my light and there was that buck about 10 yards from me. A big-bodied 4 point buck with a swollen neck and hormone levels on the rise. This guy showed no fear of me, even with my light shining around. At this point I could have just as well been another deer because I think his judgement was clouded and he couldn’t tell the difference.
Ignoring him, I continued following the blood trail, with every few steps I could hear a few steps following behind me. I found my arrow, the entire shaft covered in bright red blood. It must have pushed the rest of the way through as the doe made her way down the hill. There was more blood now. Not much further and I came upon my deer. Footsteps still following behind me, but at least he kept his distance.
The rest of my night involved a tough drag out pulling that deer through heavy brush and rugged terrain. Mr. Buck left me alone but I suspect I will be seeing him again. It was a lot of work but I am thankful for it. After finishing with processing, I ended with about 32 pounds of meat. What a great score.