If you read the work of a lot of deer hunting writers, you might get the impression that they always make the correct call on the days to hunt, stands to sit and deer to target. Well, I’m not one of those guys.
I’m human like everyone else. I mess up a lot and beat myself up quite a bit in the process. With that all being said, here’s a confession: I missed a big buck last night. Should’ve had him. Man, this stings. I just flat-out messed up.
The conditions weren’t perfect, but they weren’t bad. It was 68 degrees when I climbed to my stand and settled in for what was going to be a rather brief stint (3 hours). The trail-cam photos have indicated a trend of more buck movement this week, but it’s all been during the last hour of daylight. Sure enough, as the sun pushed toward the horizon, here comes a plump spike buck out of the spruce plantation and into my sights.
Of course, I passed him up. Not because I’m a snob trophy hunter. I just know I have a pretty darn-good chance of seeing a bigger deer within the next few weeks. That decision paid off, well, almost, about an hour later.
It’s almost sunset, and here come three more bucks — a yearling 6- and 8-pointer and a pretty nice 2-1/2-year-old 7-pointer. They angle away from my stand, about 75 yards to the south, but they spar, graze and mill around for the next half hour.
With the minutes ticking down to the end of shooting hours, here he comes. Big buck. He steps out of the trees and into the food plot. He hears two of the younger bucks locking “horns,” as they say. He pins his ears back and sprints for the action.
WATCH: GUESS WHAT MAKES THIS BUCK FLINCH
All four deer are just 70 yards from my stand, but I can’t see them through the trees. Finally, at the end of shooting light, the big boy appears and slowly, methodically, steps into view.
“Oh, my God,” I tell myself. “This is it. Third pin. Mnnh, no, second pin. Hold a little high.”
The buck stops and quarters away as he’s munching on white clover.
The arrow disappears and the buck bounds off, tail high. He disappears quietly into a nearby wooded area.
I’m confused. The shot sounded OK, but the buck’s reaction tells me otherwise.
I wait 30 minutes and sneak out of the stand. My buddy and I return a half hour later to look for my arrow. Clean miss, and, yep, I overestimated how far the buck was from my stand when I released the shot.
Back to reality today. This one’s gonna sting for a while, but at least it was a clean miss. Hate that more than the next guy.
It happens. That’s why they call it hunting, I guess.
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Deer & Deer Hunting invites you to our Saturday Night Deer Camp, only on Pursuit Channel.
Saturday Night Deer Camp is a primetime block of shows kicked off each week with the award-winning Deer & Deer Hunting TV. Hosted by Dan Schmidt, Gordy Krahn, Mark Kayser and Steve Bartylla, the show is in its 14th season and covers everything related to deer hunting, from tactics and strategy to gear, biology, great hunts and more.
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