Never Give Up; Never Give in; Never Backdown
D eer hunting surely represents one of life’s greatest challenges. In fact, more than just a sporting challenge, my lifetime of gungho deerhunting proves beyond a shadow of a doubt to this old backstrapper that it is much more than just an extremely fun outdoor challenge, but more appropriately a virtual life test unto itself.
That pesky old alarm clock can really get on a guy’s nerves after the 100th morning in the season, but in order to pass the deerhunting dedication test, I smack it hard and get up anyway.
I have to believe that my deerhunting experiences are for the most part very much like most American deerhunter’s experiences, and we struggle through many a morning and afternoon without much critter action to make our patience testing vigils oftentimes a difficult endeavor to say the least.
Now of course we must be honest and keep these tests in contextual perspective, for even a series of skunked outings is far superior on a deerstand as compared to many other activities available to us in life, that’s for sure.
Point being, after a 20 day run of no shots offered, I bet many of us are real tempted to say the hell with it and not put forth the substantial effort necessary just to subject ourselves to another long critterless outing.
That being said, history shows that those deerhunters that remain focused and diligent and never giveup do indeed eventually celebrate that highest of highs when the backstrapper of our dreams finally shows up and that “right place right time” magic all comes together.
So it was again this wonderful 2015-2016 season, where for many reasons beyond mere mortal control, I was tested more than I can remember with fewer deer sightings and fewer deer encounters than I thought I could withstand.
Still dealing with the devastating deer losses from the 2012 and 2013 EHD die-off, there were many mornings I just thought it wasn’t worth it to go through all the effort to hit my favorite Michigan stands, but did so anyway.
My grandson Jack’s birthday is November 5, and of course this day falls squarely within that magical window of rutting insanity, so I pre-heated my thermos and filled it with hot java and headed for the mystical east marsh Tamarac river stand, cocked, locked and oh so ready to rock, doc!
SpiritWild VidCamDude Kris Helms made the trip from Texas and was with me in Michigan as we buckled our Spider safety harnesses to the ancient coniferous ambush tree. The beautiful babbling brook wound beneath us through the marsh grasses and reeds as the rising sun tickled our little fen paradise.
My favorite SpiritWild soundtrack of geese, wood-ducks, crows, woodpeckers and hoot-owls provided the ultimate earthtone melodies to enhance the eye-candy all around us as a light fog drifted up from the bog.
This is how I get high! It is literally perfection!
A young buck snuck nearby, deep inside a puckerbrush hell of gray dogwood and multi-flora Rose tangles, and another immature buck cruised the big timber across the creek.
Then Kris elbowed me hard again as a bulky, tawny form emerged from our north headed our way on a prime kill trail.
Lord have mercy, a damn beast was coming!
This was a huge mature swamp-stud, and Kris and I were locked on him to make him a Spirit of the Wild TV star sure as can be.
But of course there is no sure as can be in deerhunting, and as the trophy buck was about to finally make that last step necessary to offer a shot, he stopped abruptly and jerked his horse-like head straight into our predator eyeballs for a psyche testing “game over, gotchya” pain in the you know what deerhunting moment.
The giant buck instantly swapped ends and in a flash bounded 50 yards into the thick, deadfall strewn timber, but Lord have mercy, he stopped to look back.
My Mathews Halon was already at fulldraw and as the 45 yard pin settled on his massive chest, my glowing orange Lumenok’d Gold Tip arrow was on its way.
And oh what a lovely arrow it was, the beautiful laser-like orange trace of the Lumenok accenting the already mystical flight of my arrow as it arched up and over on a direct collision course with the buck’s sweet spot.
Unfortunately, my 45 yard estimation turned out to be five yards short, and the orange glow zipped harmlessly under his pumpstation filled armpit for a clean miss.
Did I mention dammit!
Kris and I simultaneously let out a harmonized ohhhhhhh….. as the buck gathered himself for a whitetail waving adios MoFo! Gone in a flash.
Sure, I was upset, but I was much more excited and intrigued than upset, for it was a wonderful encounter with a spectacular beast on a gorgeous morning in a breathtaking setting, a fine predator ballet by Kris and I to get in killer position, a real good arrow, and a very, very close call.
The only things missing were a gutpile, backstraps and a wild celebrating dance!
I’m telling you I feel so sorry for the nonhunting public who will never know the series of intense soul cleansing feelings that this moment provides those of us who deerhunt. It can best be described as out of body, soul stirring magic.
Being senior members of the Never GiveUP Club, we didn’t dwell on this wild moment very long as I nocked another arrow and we settled in for a possible and hopeful repeat.
It was November 5th afterall.
Sandhill cranes raised some hell. More crows squawked and bickered about. A beautiful pair of big Pileated woodpeckers yelped and hammered away in the distance.
After only thirty minutes or so, Kris gave me another hard elbow and pointed downstream.
Yikes! Here comes a very big deer with very big antlers walking towards us right up the middle of the waterway.
Oh Lord let it be!
This bruiser buck was taking his good old time as he slowly strode our way, stopping and peering off into the woods and swamp obviously looking for some wang, dang sweet doe tang!
Torturing us to the maxx, this huge beast dared me to draw as he swung south at twenty yards, but stopped with his vitals covered by a lowly tangle! So what else is new!
Then as he turned back to the creek, Kris and I swung ultra-carefully and silently to our right and as the doe-whipped breeder paused below our golden Tamarac. I found a hole through the branches and unleashed my heat seeking missile.
The glowing Lumenok tells no lies and my Rage tipped Gold Tip sliced hard through his upper shoulder and exited the left armpit as the giant leapt his last into the tangle down below, dead in seconds!
Lord have mercy and pass the nerve quelling spirit tranquilizers!
I can only feel sorry for my fellow man that never gets to take this emotional physics of spirituality bowhunting roller coaster ride to backstrap redemption. The intensity of the bowhunting struggle is directly attributable to the glory of the backstrap celebration.
The SpiritWild bloodtrailing was a party to reckon with and the moment of infamy with the beast in my arms was a reward like no other.
It was another magical, mystical FUN, SPORT, MEAT, TOPHY moment in time. The beast was dead, long live the mighty beast in my belly and in my soul.
Email Ted Nugent at
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