Two Thousand Seventeen is off to a good start. We had a strong showing early on in February. There was even a day on the weekend that wasn’t blowing 60mph and I was able to get my kayak out in some deep water jigging lake trout and herring.
Sunrise over Lake Superior on a chilly February morning.
It didn’t take long to find a limit!
Kayak fishing lake trout in February on Lake Superior – it might be just a little crazy.
I met up with Joe that same afternoon and within a couple of hours we found limits of rainbows too! It was a banner day!
A typical Joe expression.
The fish pile at the end of the day.
Just a couple of days after taking this giant I was contacted by another hunter who found out about it and apparently had been after this deer. Hunting over a half mile away, he had been capturing regular images of this deer on his trail camera – right up until the day before he found his way over to my stand.
This image was captured three days before I took this deer, over a half mile away.
There were pictures showing him in velvet…
The same hunter had seen this deer the previous year and had more pictures from then showing just how much more he grew in a single season.
I am always fascinated to find out where these deer have been and how far they might travel on any given day. It is always a mystery figuring out how these big deer operate, where they move, when they move, how far and why.
It was Thursday and I was heading to the woods after work. The air was crisp and the wind was hardly blowing. After checking the wind direction I knew exactly where I wanted to sit so I made my hike in and set myself up high in a tree using my modified lone wolf climbing sticks and hang on stand.
As dark neared I could hear what sounded like foot steps in the leaves out in front of me. It could have been a squirrel but just in case I pulled out my rattle bag an shuffled it around just a couple of times. Almost instantly it sounded like the steps turned and came my direction so I quickly put the rattle bag away and got ready with my bow. But then I didn’t hear much more from in front of me. Instead I heard something coming through the thick brush directly behind me. Turning my head around I waited to see what was going to emerge. A mature buck came pushing through the tangled mess. Judging by the sheer mass of this deer, I made up my mind right away that I was going to take this deer if given the chance.
I didn’t want to be stuck in such an uncomfortable position so before he got any closer I faced back forward and sat as still as I possibly could. I had no shots behind me so I was going to have to wait and see if he would make his way past me. Looking for the fight, he was taking his time and carefully studying the area. I could only hear him take one or two steps at a time and then just stand there behind me. I didn’t dare turn to look as I did not want him to catch my movement. I still had about 45 minutes of shooting light left so I knew I had some time to wait this deer out.
After about 20 minutes I could finally hear him take a few more steps further from me so I slowly turned to find him again. Once he moved I spotted him 15 yards away. I could see that he was quartering away and I was starting to worry he might head back into his thick safety cover. But then he turned and began making his way toward me. Walking directly past me to my right within 10 yards of my tree, I still didn’t dare move to make a shot as he could have seen my movement. After taking a few steps at a time and stopping and taking a few more steps, he was angling perfectly directly in front of me and quartering away. As he came into the open directly in front of me I made my draw and released an arrow.
The impact immediately shattered the shoulder blade and I could see him take off on 3 legs. I listened and could hear him crashing in the brush maybe 50 or 60 yards in front of me and then nothing. I waited quite a while and in the mean time called in some help and packed up my gear. I was very grateful to find the buck right where I last heard him as there was not much blood to follow from this particular shot through the shoulder.
This deer field dressed out at 230lbs which would have put its live weight pushing close to 300lbs!!! I tried to correct the red-eye in this photo but now I look like I just crapped my pants. That awed look on my face is probably close to what I actually looked like when I walked up on this giant 🙂
I think this is the biggest deer I have taken to date. Again, I am very grateful to my friends Mitch, Joe and Heidi for coming to help me get this deer out of the woods. It took all 4 of us and a deer cart a couple of hours to haul it out. And the buck was so heavy it pretty much wrecked the deer cart bending the steel frame.
They said I wouldn’t look at the camera. (I just couldn’t stop looking at the deer!) So I gave them a quick look at the camera 🙂
My dad took up hunting with a crossbow a few years back and has only had the opportunity to shoot a doe in the past. Quite contrary to most, I took up hunting before my dad and have many more hours of bowhunting and deer tracking experience on my side. Last night I received the following text from him:
Shot at the 6 pointer. Must have shot too high. Watched where he ran. Couldn’t find any blood anywhere. Blew an easy shot.
Not knowing what I might find, I showed up and had him walk me through the details. After placing him in his shooting position and then having him direct me to where the deer was standing when he shot, I found his bolt stuck in a tree not far away. It was covered in blood so we now knew that he definitely hit the deer. There was no hair and the blood was on every part of the shaft so it couldn’t have just clipped it. There was no foul smell either, so it was not a gut shot. I did not see an immediate trail of blood on the ground so I had him direct me to where he watched the deer run. After a few minutes I had a blood trail and from there on it was fairly easy to follow.
We followed the blood trail for maybe 120 yards through the woods and there lie the deer. The shot was a little high but still in the vitals and a good hit. I think my dad said for some reason he was looking at his 30 yard pin rather than the 20. I have made the same mistake before. It can be an easy mistake to make when you get caught up in the excitement of a deer walking into shooting range – you don’t always pause and take the extra time to judge your shooting distance or realize you are aiming with the wrong pin.
All in all it actually turned out to be a pretty easy tracking job. That just goes to show you should never be too quick to give up on finding a deer. Call some friends and get fresh eyes, you may be surprised how quickly your outlook might change on something that looks hopeless. I had the same experience last year when I couldn’t find a deer. I called a couple of good friends and we were relentless, and we found the deer.
I’m just excited for my dad now that he finally arrowed his first buck that he’s been after for so long.
The following trail camera pictures are some of the more interesting from earlier this summer. I placed this camera on a den to see what would show up.