In November of 2005, I headed up north with my sons Alex and Travis to my uncle’s cabin in the remote town of Barnes. I have been hunting in that area for the better part of 40 years. The cabin is filled with memories of my grandmother’s cooking, the old timers playing cribbage, visiting neighbors and preparing for the opening morning hunt. It was great having my grandmother get us up in the morning to a breakfast buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and toast. Sadly to say, those days are gone and now my sons and I have to fend for ourselves.
Opening Morning Deer
After breakfast we packed our lunch and grabbed our gear, which consisted of knives, guns, blaze orange jackets and a good pair of warm boots. Walking out the door in the middle of the night on a blustery cold, snowy November morning waiting for the opener just gives me goose bumps! If you are a deer hunter, you will understand that we’ve been waiting almost a year to get back in the woods!
As we hiked out to our deer stands, all I was thinking about was how many deer we were going to see and if this was the day one of us would connect with the big, elusive whitetail buck. We arrived at Travis’s stand and helped him get situated before we continued our half mile journey. He was nearly to the top of a hill, right on the edge of thousands of pines that were planted in the 1940’s by the CCC’s. He overlooks a ravine that has always been a good natural runway. Over to his right there is an old railroad right-of-way and a small, figure eight shaped lake that looks like it is getting smaller every year. Travis loves this spot!
Alex and I finished walking to our double stand which was strapped around a 12-14 foot poplar. It wasn’t the greatest tree for our stand but there weren’t a lot of options. Many of the pines were harvested in the last ten years so we had pretty descent visibility. The sun started coming up over the top of the trees as the red squirrels and birds started awakening the rest of the woods.
As we scoped out the area, we saw a doe and a fawn milling around in the brush. By about 10:00 a.m., we had watched over five deer move around us, but nothing too exciting. Then all of a sudden it happened! About 75 yards behind us there was a small horned eight point buck feeding. Alex saw the buck but was unable to get a shot until he stepped up on the first trail. With the wind blowing and the tree swaying, it looked like it would be a difficult shot. He took the shot and then I shot and we both missed terribly. About five minutes later we heard a shot over by Travis’s stand. That sounded like good news!
An hour had gone by and our minds were growing crazy with curiosity. We grabbed our gear and walked over to Travis’s stand where he was cleaning up after taking care of the deer he shot. It was the same eight pointer that we missed earlier. We were ecstatic because even though this wasn’t his first deer, it was the first nice buck for Travis. We finished hunting but were unsuccessful that afternoon. We hiked our way back to the cabin for some camaraderie with the rest of the guys.
The next day we decided to walk through some small wooded areas, focus on some stalking techniques and do some short drives to our standers. We posted some of our hunters in deer stands and the rest of the hunters walked through the woods hoping to roust a few deer out of their beds. There were a few shots fired in the distance, but they were so far away, we knew they didn’t come from any of our hunting party. As the afternoon progressed, one of my nephews was able to get off a good shot and dropped a huge doe right in it’s tracks. The day was coming to an end so we decided to drive one more small patch of woods filled with scotch pines and buck brush. I told my son Alex to go stand on the edge of the pines where it opened up into a small, grassy clearing where he’d probably be able to get a nice, open shot. He argued with me and said he was bored and tired of standing, so I said, “You’re going to be mad, Alex, if I go in there and shoot that monster whitetail buck!” He thought about it for a minute, looked at me and begrudgingly walked into the woods. He stood behind a pile of deadfall overlooking an opening with scattered poplars, scotch pines and small patches of buck brush. The rest of us were about a quarter mile away when we heard the gun go off. There were two shots fired! We continued walking through the woods until we found Alex smiling from ear to ear! He explained to us that the buck walked out of the woods, he raised his gun, took his first shot and missed. For some reason the buck turned and walked right towards Alex, giving him the rare opportunity for a second shot. That well positioned shot downed a 175 pound, 19 1/4 inside spread, beautiful whitetail buck! He learned a good lesson about being patient and sitting still. It paid off!
Both of my sons shot a buck that year but I went without. It was still one of my greatest trips!
For more articles on hunting and fishing, go to myfishhunt.com