I t was a slow deer season.
Nobody was seeing anything at all. The whitetails seemed to know it was hunting season and decided to hunker down someplace safe from any hunters. It was bow season and I would try every spot I knew but ended up with the same results—nada.
And I was not alone.
However, one day I saw 12 deer from my perch in a matter of 15 minutes. A group of does were in the field and decided to come straight for me. They fed around my stand for a while and all but one decided to continue deeper in the woodlot. The lone doe headed slowly north until I could not see her anymore.
As I glanced back to a thicket, I saw nothing but antlers coming to a clearing. The big boy turned right for me and with each step my thoughts of taking a huge whitetail seemed to be more and more a reality.
There are three types of deer hunters.
The meat hunter—This is the person who will shoot any deer that comes into range. They have the attitude that if they let the deer walk, the neighbors will kill it anyway.
The trophy hunter—This is the person who has had more than a few seasons under his belt already and really wants to bring home the monster of the woods. This is also the person who adorns his house with multiple deer mounts and maybe a troubled marriage because of it.
Last, we have the newbie hunter—This is the person who is excited to be in the woods hunting whitetails for the first time. Unfortunately, these are the same people who have been watching the hunting shows on television, and they have been brainwashed into feeling guilty about taking a younger animal.
I am of the belief that if you are one of the later, then your first deer that you kill is the hardest one. Some readers might not agree with me, but I think that a new hunter needs to get that first one under his belt. Then he or she can decide if they want to wait for “Mr. Right” to come along. I say take “Mr. Right Now” and worry about the bigger ones next year.
Most hunting areas, except for QDM (Quality Deer Management) areas, will hold deer that average about two years old when they are taken. To persuade a new hunter to hold off on the smaller deer and wait for that big boy, might mean an empty freezer and tag soup for supper.
In my bow classes, I often ask this question. If you shoot a spike horn or a four-pointer, should you mount it? It is amazing how many prospective hunters say you should not mount that deer head because it’s not really a trophy buck.
Then I remind them that, it most certainly is a trophy to to the hunter that shot that young deer. If he can afford it, he should mount it to remind him of his very first one.
I am sorry I never mounted my first one. All I have is the lasting memory of everything that happened on that hunt and how excited I was to pull the trigger.
Now that I am considered to be one of those grizzled veteran hunters, I choose to let the smaller ones walk. That does not mean I bring home venison every year. As a matter of fact, there have been more than a few tag soup dinners at my house. But that is my choice.
I still get excited, and my heart starts to beat out of my chest whenever I see a deer heading my way—even if I know I’m not going to shoot it. I think that if I ever lose that feeling, I would give up the sport all together. I sincerely hope that never happens.
As I write this column, I am planning a turkey hunt in the morning. I think I love turkey hunting more than deer. When I hear that bird gobbling closer and closer, I get that same heart pumping feeling. Even if it is a jake, I still get that excited feeling. It’s what makes me want to get out a nice, warm, cozy bed at oh dark thirty every day. I can only hope hunting does the same for you.
The 10- pointer was now only 50 yards from me and closing. I looked ahead and saw the spot that would place the deer behind a big tree which would allow me to draw my bow.
Suddenly, things went all wrong. What looked like a perfect setup was now falling apart in front of my eyes. With his nose to the ground, the buck of my dreams turned north and followed that lone doe. I had no shot and no deer.
Just five minutes later, I had three more does running right for my stand, and I could see antlers chasing them. I thought for sure that this was that 10- point.
Things were happening fast. I drew my bow as the does ran under me. Once the buck came closer, I grunted, stopping him in his tracks at just 10 yards away. I watched as the six-pointer walked away. It was a “gimme” shot, but I knew that big buck was very close and would catch the scent of these does.
No sir —I never saw that big deer again until opening day of rifle season when a neighboring hunter proudly displayed a picture of himself with his beautiful 10-point buck.
My failed attempt wasn’t for lack of trying. Every single morning I went after him. I knew his area. I had scouted him hard. I was super careful about leaving my scent around. And I went home empty handed that year. Oh well…that’s hunting for you.
Have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]