One of my favorite things to help me through the summer is to replay some of my old hunts in my mind. I wish I had owned a video camera back in the 80s but, they were too big and mainly too expensive for me to consider. Yesterday I had a MONDAY and it seemed that most of the clients I spoke with were angry, stupid or both. By the time I got home I knew a “Tang & Tonic” was over-due, so I poured one up and settled in to my screen porch chair to “think of better things than work”.
As I walked through my den, my gaze rested on a buck I have mounted there, along with several others, and I thought about the hunt that resulted in his being there and how angry I was that afternoon but, things did not turn out so bad.
We had nick-named the buck “Side-one” since he had a very nice rack on the right side but his left side rack was stunted and deformed. He had eluded us for several seasons and we never saw him in the daylight after bow season. Even in bow season he had managed to be wary enough to stay out of range and then he went nocturnal all through gun season. He was an old, wise buck and even with the rack anomoly we all sought him as a good buck to “take out”. A couple of the guys on the lease with me said he was a cull buck and I told them I would cull him right up on my wall if given the chance. But, he was a sly old swamp donkey and the trail cameras were the only way we knew he was still around. Even then, most of the photos were time stamped from 10 p.m. to around 3 a.m. We even had a few “man-drives” through some of the bedding areas on the place that resulted in a couple of other bucks getting whacked but, old “side-one” was never spotted.
I took a few days off for Christmas and drove up to Tuscaloosa from my home in Mobile to hunt the rut that generally peaks around Christmas week over in south Tuscaloosa county where we had the hunting lease. I hunted on the “river tract” the first day from dawn until dusk. I saw good rut activity and had numerous opportunities for some young rack bucks but, no shooters came through. The next day was Christmas Eve and it was cold, clear and all I could ask for in a nice winter day. I sat the morning hunt in a ground blind out near a spot we called the “duck slough” since it often flooded in the winter and attracted a good number of the local wood duck population. It is a beautiful swamp with just enough elevation around it to for a great hardwood stand of old growth trees that looked like a hunting paradise, and it was! Still no shooter! lots of rutn and running and it was fun but, I moved on.
Christmas Eve afternoon, I signed out for stand # 6 that was located near where the property corners next to a “pay hunt” operation and they had a stand so close to the property line, if they put a hunter in it I could not hunt there and feel like I was isolated enough. I slipped into the woods about 2 p.m and walked the trail to my ladder stand location but, when I got there, it was gone! I was fighting mad! my afternoon hunt was ruined and my ladder stand was stolen! I walked on over to the property line and walked up on a hunter in one of those orange jump suits just over the property line sitting in a ladder stand but, it was not mine.
Frustrated, I turned and walked about 200 yards to a small clover field and decided to sit on the ground and hunt the field. I found a good brush pile to hide in and the wind was right so I doused myself with a little extra “Earth scent” for cover and got in hunting mode even as I fumed about my stolen stand. A little after 3:30 I saw the movement of deer coming to the clover patch and a nice herd of does and yearlings piled into the field and attacked the clover. I watched them until 5:10 and other deer had come and gone but, no bucks. Then, one of the does looked into the woods and literally pranced toward the woodline, then turned and bounced back to the clover but, she was not feeding, I believe she was flirting! And that did the trick! Old “side-one” walked up to the far end of the clover patch and stood there for several minutes, then started that “rut walk” posturing and his hair was standing up on his back like he was going to fight! I did not see any other bucks and thought his actions odd, then he just trotted on out and went to the does rear for a whiff of “love potion number hind” He had an actual smile on his face when the 150 grain 30-06 ended the affair! Actually not a bad way to go if you think about it! The big buck weighed 245 lbs and was a 5 and half year old buck.
He died with a smile on his face so actually that is not a bad way to go!
~Postoak~ Dreaming about deer season!