Summer Dreaming of Winter Bucks

Rainy days drive me crazy. I can’t stand being cooped up in the house, but I also can’t stand being soaked to the bone while trying to fish. Years ago it didn’t bother me, but I’ve admittedly gotten softer with age. When the weather proves too extreme for me to go out, I usually resort to cleaning around the house. This is a never-ending task when you have young children, so there’s plenty to keep me busy.

During one of my rainy evening cleaning sessions, I stopped to admire a buck on the wall in our office. This particular deer was killed just after the New Year in 2016 and was my biggest buck until a couple of years ago. I finished my cleaning and sat on our couch, watching it rain, and caught myself longing for deer season.

Deer season 2015 was a slow year for me. I’d only been able to get in the woods a handful of times and had only killed one doe, which was harvested early during bow season. The rut came and went, and I only hunted once during that time period, with no luck. As the year came to a close, I’d all but decided that this deer season would be a bust. On New Year’s Day, my cousin called and invited me up to his place in the South Delta for a hunt. I was disgusted with deer season by this time, but the other part of me wanted to see a few guys that I hadn’t seen in a while. I decided to make the trip up to at least hang out for a couple of days.

My first hunt was on the morning of the 2nd. It was cold, and the weather was perfect. I saw plenty of deer that morning, but nothing to write home about. At this point, I was just happy to be seeing deer. The few trips that I’d made that season were marred by warm and rainy weather with very little deer activity. Today just felt different, and I appreciated that. We had lunch down the road in Onward, MS at the only store in Onward. They make a great hamburger if you ever have the chance to eat there. While eating, I can vividly remember thinking of how great an afternoon it was going to be. For the first time all season, I was anxious to get back in the woods.

We got back to the property and all decided where we would sit for the evening hunt. I chose a plot that we called the “Middle Field”, which had a large, elevated box stand on the south end of the food plot. The plot was about fifty yards wide and 400 yards long with cottonwood trees bordering each side. I wasn’t in the stand fifteen minutes when the first buck appeared 100 yards to my right. The buck wasn’t a “shooter”, but was fun to watch. He fed out into the plot and was visibly run down from the rut. While I was watching him I caught a glimpse of movement at the far end of the food plot. My adrenaline began to pump as I could immediately tell that it was a much larger deer.

I grabbed my binoculars and pointed them down the plot, hoping that this was what I thought it was. A quick glimpse confirmed my hopes. The buck was definitely a “shooter.” I quickly raised my rifle and got the deer in the cross-hairs. Before squeezing the trigger, my mind began to do math. The deer was at least 350 yards away. How high do I need to hold it above him to make a clean shot? I decided that the top of his back was a good spot and squeezed off a round. The 7mag blast filled the air and my ears were ringing. The deer took 2-3 quick jumps toward the cottonwoods and stopped at the edge. Did I miss him? I quickly bolted another round and aimed again. I made sure I was steady, but I didn’t have much time before the buck disappeared. I squeezed the trigger again and the buck vanished into the trees.

Shortly after the second shot, I received a message from a friend that was hunting with us. Barrett was hunting a field to my west and said the second shot sounded like it hit. My ears were ringing so loud inside that box that I couldn’t hear anything. I climbed down and walked to the area where the buck was and found one drop of blood. I made sure to mark it and went and got back in the stand to wait for the others to finish hunting. While waiting, I could hear more rumbling in the woods to my right. It sounded like a whole herd of deer coming through the woods.

When the subject of the noise finally made itself visible, it was a large wild hog. Brandon had given strict instruction to shoot every hog we saw on the property, so I wasted no time. Once again, the 7mag rang out canon-fire and the hog dropped in his tracks. My phone began to blow up again with questions of “what in the heck have you killed now?” and “is there a war going on?”

When darkness arrived so did all of the other hunters. Everyone was anxious to see what all had been killed in the “Middle Field.” The hog was easy to find, the deer was a little tougher. We went the spot that I’d marked earlier and began to fan out in the thick cottonwood trees looking for my buck. We searched and searched while only finding a few more drops of blood. Just as we were about to give up on the search, I decided to go in one last time. Not 25 yards into the woods, I nearly tripped over the dead buck. The search was over and my luck had finally changed.

Sometimes it’s really easy to get discouraged during hunting season. There will be times when the weather just won’t cooperate and the deer won’t move. The best thing you can do is keep hunting. One day the weather will change, the deer will move, and you’d better be in the woods ready to make the most of the moment! Speaking of weather, it’s raining again and I miss deer season.

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