Ah December, I have longed for you all year. Decorations are everywhere you look, and Christmas is just around the corner. Schools have let out for the holidays, well mostly. For some reason my kids have a packet of work to do during the holidays, but that’s a conversation for another day. This time of the year is great to relax, enjoy family, and celebrate the birth of Christ. It’s also wonderful for another reason, the rut. During this time period, just about every year, the rut in the Delta is in full swing and this year is no exception.
My cameras have been out since August, until recently. I’ve hunted four different bucks all season long with no luck. It makes me wonder if having cameras out is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s nice to know what is out there, it’s also painful. I’ve been determined to kill one of those bucks and probably put too much pressure on the deer, and myself. My wife has even used the term “obsessed” more than once regarding my pursuit of the deer on my cameras. Up until this weekend, I’d never seen a single one of them on the hoof.
I mentioned that my wife thinks I’m obsessed, and I’m not going to argue that assessment. When I’ve been at home lately, I’ve only been half at home. My mind has been constantly wondering what the deer were doing. Where are they hanging out? What are they eating? Are the does close to being in heat? Have those bucks already been killed by the neighbors? To Amy’s credit, she understands me. She can tell when something is bothering me and when my attention is elsewhere. When she tells me that we’ve got something planned for a weekend and I can’t go hunting, she can tell when I want to be in the woods. I thought I did a decent job of hiding my disappointment of not being able to hunt, but apparently I don’t do a good enough job. She calls it pouting, I call it longing. To each their own. She knows how much I enjoy hunting the rut, though, and agreed to take on the job of single mom while I fed my obsession this weekend.
I arrived at our camp just after lunch on Friday afternoon. Brad and his daughter, Emily, were already there. Brad had already plotted our evening hunt and suggested I hunt a stand on the north end that hadn’t been hunted all year. I took his advice and I’m glad I did. I didn’t kill anything, but I got a taste of the rut for the first time this year. There were a couple of young bucks grunting and chasing does through the woods. It was a great sign that the rut was in full swing at our place. The evening hunt only strengthened my obsession and the night seemed to last forever. I couldn’t wait to get back in the woods.
Rain was in the forecast for Saturday afternoon, so I needed to make the morning hunt count. I went back to a stand that I’ve hunted a few times and seen plenty of deer activity. The stand sits on a tall hill and overlooks a lot of land below. It’s the perfect place to watch bucks chasing does during the rut, and I felt like I’d have the best opportunity to see one of those bucks I’d been hunting from this position. I hadn’t got settled in the stand good when a loud “boom” went through the sky. Two other guys from the camp, David and Daryl, were hunting that morning, and I felt confident that the shot came from Daryl. Daryl confirmed a few minutes later that he was the one that shot, but he didn’t feel good about it. While I sat in the stand waiting to hear back from Daryl on what he potentially killed, the action was heating up. I watched a couple of young bucks lock horns for a moment, then watched a young eight point buck chase a doe right by me. They both stopped right in front of me, and I heard a buck snort/wheeze for the first time ever in my life, a very cool moment.
A little while later, Daryl confirmed that he killed a buck. He sent a picture of the deer to me, and I immediately noticed the deer from my camera. I couldn’t hardly wait to climb down and go check him out. I went back to the camp a little later, met up with Daryl, and we went and retrieved the buck. He was everything I thought he would be. The buck was a main frame eight point about 19 inches wide with a sticker coming off of his left G2 (second tine). My obsession grew even more to kill one of the remaining bucks I had on camera. It grew so much that I even convinced Brad to hunt in the rain that evening. We saw deer, but we didn’t see what we were looking for. I would have to wait until tomorrow.
My Sunday morning hunt was rough. I almost ran over one of the bucks I’d been hunting with my four wheeler on the way to my stand before daylight. I certainly wasn’t going to see him after that. Then, I hunted a tripod that requires you to bring a cushion to sit on. Once again, I forgot to bring a cushion and I cut my hunt short rather than have back surgery this week. Feeling defeated, I returned to the camp and decided to put all of my energy into the evening hunt. I was going to be alone so I had my pick of the entire property.
I went to the river for my evening hunt in hopes that the lack of pressure there would have the deer moving. I saw the same doe and yearling that Amy wouldn’t let me shoot a few weeks ago. They both fed until a spike ran them off. My frustration grew even greater. Another doe showed up. Again, the spike ran her off. I’ve never wanted to shoot a spike so bad in my life. Then, another doe came into the plot. This time the spike didn’t show up. I looked up and the largest buck I’d seen in a while was standing at the edge of the plot. I immediately knew he was a “shooter” and raised my rifle. I took a deep breath, let it out, and squeezed the trigger. My struggle was over. I was so excited that I wanted to skip across the food plot. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders seeing the deer laying there. When I got to the deer I realized that I’d never seen this buck before. I didn’t have a single picture of him. That made it even sweeter. He was a main frame eight point with stickers on both G2’s. He’s possibly the biggest buck that I’ve ever killed. I loaded my hard earned trophy up and headed back to the camp. I made sure to immediately send a picture to my wife to let her know my obsession had been filled, for now.