I t was opening day of bow season and dawn found me perched in my tree stand as I waited for another beautiful sunrise. It was unusual to have the wind come from the south, but the warm breeze on my face was a welcome surprise.
I had made all the necessary preparations that I could think of to help me achieve success. The anticipation was almost too much for me. I showered with Scent Killer Gold and had my camo tucked away in an airtight bin in the back of the truck. I had been practicing for months and felt confident. All I needed was a nice buck to cooperate with my plan of attack and my hunting season would be complete!
Well… that was just not to be, at least not this morning.
I always allow myself plenty of time to go through my tree stand ritual and let the woods calm down for a while. It is not uncommon for me to be sitting perfectly still in the pre-dawn darkness for at least a half hour before it even thinks about getting light.
After I harnessed myself to the tree, I took a Realtree Easy Hanger and secured that to the tree as well. Then I screwed in a smaller hanger to put my backpack on. Once I was secured and safe in my stand, using a haul line, I pulled my bow up. Quietly I placed my bow on the easy hanger and nocked an arrow. I sat down and waited for sunrise. Have I given you a good picture of opening morning so far?
Hunting over a food plot that my cousin Tim and I put in, I could see the entire field. I had the big woods to my left and a small hedgerow about 25 yards to my right. My cousin decided to hunt in the thicket of the big woods. Pre-season, I had set up my Wildgame Innovations trail camera near where Tim was hunting. We had a picture of a pretty nice eight-point in the area.
Hours passed and boredom set in. Nothing was moving. Tim only had a few small does behind him. He texted me and asked if I had any action. I answered with a capital NOTHING! And as soon as I put the phone back in my pocket, it happened! Out of the small hedgerow came a beautiful 10-point buck. A nice majestic heavy rack that made my heart race a bit. (I love that).
There he was, 20 yards in front of me! A “gimme” shot and my bow was still hanging on the hook. I tried moving slowly to take my bow, but he was on alert and already knew that something was up. I could not move without getting caught in the act. The big buck decided to go in the big woods and as he walked across the food plot, I stood up and grabbed my bow in one motion. I bleated, grunted and might have even shouted for him to wait a minute (well… maybe I did not shout, but I wanted to). The ghost disappeared in the big woods just as fast he appeared. It was all over in an instant.
I grabbed my phone and texted Tim to warn him about the big buck headed his way. He did not believe me at all and never saw him.
The following morning, I decided to go to the same stand. I was determined to get that buck and knew he was not spooked the day before. Oh… I did everything. Brought my Flambeau decoy and sprayed it down with Scent Killer, placed some scent bombs out, and quietly climbed in the stand. It was 6:15 and I was ready with my bow in my hand. 12 hours later I climbed down and headed for the truck. Never saw a hair all day long! Believe me when I say that it was a very hard thing for me to do. There were times when I thought I’d have to take a walk and stretch my legs, but I was sure that if I climbed down, he would show up right at that moment.
I could not hunt the next day. I had to go to a wedding and reception that evening. While the meal was being served, I received a call from my cousin telling me that he just shot a beautiful buck and asked if I could help him load it in the truck. Then he sent me a picture and my heart sank. It was the same buck that I had in front of me a few days before.
Oh well, that’s hunting. I was sincerely happy for my cousin. I had to tell him that I was at a wedding and could not help him drag and load the big buck. I was sincerely happy about that, too.
Early the following morning Tim stopped by the house with the deer. He was on his way to the taxidermist and wanted to make sure it was the same one that I saw earlier. Yes, it was! I had Tim take a picture of me with the buck and I sent it to Chester. Chester congratulated me over and over. It took me a few more days before I finally confessed to him that it was not mine.
I did not go home with a deer that night, but I did go home with some great memories and that will last a lot longer than venison in the freezer. As a matter of fact, I know that every time I choose to hunt that stand, I will be thinking about the “one that got away”! As I write this, I still have three weeks to try to score on a nice whitetail. And I still have three weeks to make more memories to tell my grandkids about.
Have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]