Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

The weather forecast for today was not good, leaving me with no idea what to put in my backpack. I also wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach the day. With the forecast calling for a rain/snow mixture turning into steady rain during the day, I figured I would sit for a while then start walking. It would be ideal conditions to sneak up on something and catch it off guard. 

  I also wasn’t sure where I wanted to hunt, so Dad got an early start and left for the woods at 4:30. He planned on sitting all day. Brian decided to give the area he was hunting a break and try his hand in a different place a little south of where he has been hunting, so I had him drop me off in an area where I could hunt back to my truck, which I had parked near the place where Dad parked. 

  At daylight, I found myself still-hunting through the woods with no clear intention where I would end up. As I meandered in and out of thick beech whips, my gut brought me to a place where I thought I might get lucky. I’m not sure what led me to the place, but after overlooking a small bowl that had tracks through it, something told me another bowl in the area might be a place to sit for an hour or two to wait and see what the weather might bring. I hadn’t been to this area in a number of years, but the inner voice inside my head told me to find a place to sit tight.

  Settling my back against a small beech tree, I felt confident with my choice. When the inner voice speaks, I’ve learned to let it guide me where it believes I should be. Unless you have heard the inner voice, it’s hard to believe how much power it can have in the outcome of certain hunting situations. I believe it’s something that happens due to experience, and as a hunter gains experience, the voice gets louder and speaks with more authority when it speaks. 

  Leaning against the tree, my eyes felt heavy, but I knew I could not let them close. In this area, there would be no time to react if I missed seeing the deer when it stepped into the opening in front of me. I knew I would get picked off if I had to move, so I made certain to stay on point and remain focused. A loss of focus can easily lead to a missed opportunity. Heck, after all, I had that happen last week when I let my guard down while walking through the woods. 

  Around 7:30, I saw a big doe walking toward me, and she had a little one in tow. I figured it wouldn’t lead to much, as does that have fawns with them right now have probably already been bred. However, you never know.

  When they hit an opening about 40 yards down the hill from where I was sitting, the doe became nervous. Although the wind wasn’t blowing in her direction, I think the wind direction created a swirl, causing it to go over my head and down the hill. 

  After fidgeting around for a few minutes, she finally blew and took off. The fawn bounded away too. When they disappeared, I felt somewhat relieved to know that if it had been a buck, I would have been able to shoot him before he caught my wind. 

  An hour later, I caught some movement in the beech whips where I had spotted the doe and fawn. Instantly, I knew the buck was a shooter. I pulled the gun up and secured the butt end of it into my shoulder to prepare for the recoil. 

  When he got to the spot where the doe and fawn had stopped, he instantly stopped and became fully alert. I knew he was going to bolt. There was a small beech tree blocking his shoulder. I knew I probably couldn’t get away with much movement, but the opportunity was going to be lost in a matter of seconds. Instead of moving, I put the crosshairs on his neck and attempted to pull the trigger. Expecting the gun to fire, I flinched. I took a deep breath and started over. I realized I had never pushed the safety forward.

  Leaning to the left, I could see the front shoulder. I steadied on it and pulled the trigger. The boom echoed off the surrounding mountains, and I was pretty sure he was dead on his feet. When he bolted to his right, I racked another one in and followed it up with another shot. Instantly, he went down. I knew the second shot had connected too. 

  Walking over to him, I was excited but saddened at the same time. It’s always sad when a mountain monarch goes down. I felt elated that I had won the chess match, but I felt let down that the game was over. 

  I took a long time with the deer after walking over to it. I enjoyed every second of the moment, and I cherished the luck involved with taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me. 

  I took a few minutes to run my hands along his chest and wrap my hands around his antlers. I felt a sense of accomplishment with this buck that can’t be rivaled. I’ve been fortunate enough to kill a lot of great deer, but this deer stands above many others. 

  We’ve hunted harder this season than I can ever remember, and we have not been too lucky. I’ve seen fewer bucks this year than I’ve seen in as many years as I can remember. Although I passed five nice bucks in New York, this season just wasn’t the same as many others. I did pass one that many others would kill to have on their wall. When I look at the video, I really don’t understand why I gave him a free pass, but I’m not disappointed in the final outcome.

  After taking care of the deer, I began mapping out my trip back to the road. Normally, I would’ve boned or quartered it out, but the snow makes it much easier to drag, so I chose to drag it. 

  A few hours into my trip back to the road, Dad texted me to tell me he had also killed a nice buck. Now, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should leave my deer and go to the area where he was hunting to help him or if I should continue toward the road and get as far as I could. 

  Finally, I told him to take care of it and leave it there. I would go back in after dark and get it.  It would be a lot of work, but I was up for the task – or so I thought. 

  Shortly after the texting, I lost service and that was the last I heard from Dad. The day went by quickly, and I reached each goal along the way in hopes of getting out by dark. 

  Finally, near the end of the day, I was able to get out of the woods and make my way to where Dad was with his deer. At that point, I met Brian there to help my father, and we were able to capture a few pictures in the woods next to the road before loading Dad’s deer in. Although we had to unload mine for the pictures, it was worth every second to be able to get both of us together with our deer in the daylight in the woods. 

  Dad and I had never killed a deer on the same day until a few years ago. Now, in a few years, we have done it twice, and it feels pretty sweet. What a day in the woods. This one topped the one in Illinois a few years ago. I can never express how grateful I am that I’m still able to hunt with my father.

One Response to “Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021”

  1. Mike Homan says:

    Todd,
    Congrats to you and your father on the double!

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