This is kind of long winded, but I'll take you there.
In 1985 I was on a big buck that was causing me to lose sleep at night. He was absolutely huge and one of the biggest deer I've ever seen in my life. I knew where he was hanging out at least part of the time. There were some mega-rubs on trees the size where my knee meets my thigh near where he was bedding that didn't even look real. They went from about knee-high up to about armpit-high and were just gouged in the trees. This was clearly not a yearling buck. His hoofprints in the ground below the trees looked like someone had driven big spikes into the ground & just jerked them up. The shavings on the ground around the trees looked more like somebody took woodworking tools to the tree. He was bedding off the southeast corner of a 15 acre hayfield so close to the town limits that I could hear traffic as it passed by the courthouse when I hunted there. I didn't need to look at my watch because the church bells in town kept time for me. This hayfield was right behind an elementary school in an area where it was illegal to discharge a firearm (as one might expect) so I didn't have to worry about gun hunters getting him. I could clearly hear the kitchen staff talking as they accepted food at the loading dock behind the cafeteria. The hayfield had a creek running along the east side of it the entire north-south boundary & there was virtually no way to quietly cross it undetected. The road into the field was at the school end to the west and there was no possible way to enter an the loose gravel road without being heard or seen because the bedding area was on a slight rise where the entire field was in view. There was a good reason he was using that area and how he'd gotten so big.
Before it became illegal to shine spotlights on deer at night, I rode out there to size him up a few times. I would park the truck off the gravel road before derk and wait a few hours before I'd shine to see what was there. The field would light up with eye reflections all over the place. Every other buck out there had a rack that would easily fit inside that dude's rack and not touch any part of it. The first time I found his bedding area, I made it my mission to use one of my tags on him. The first season I hunted there, I saw him a couple of times in the morning when he was returning to bed down. I couldn't get too close to his bedding area or risk running him off. I chose a tree off slight point of woods on the eastern edge of the field, so my scent would be carried out across the creek and away from his nose. I found a sandbar in the creek where I could cross without getting water over my knee boots and get to my stand without being seen. I had a few all day hunts there, which was tough on a Loc-On stand. On the eastern side of the creek was a three year old 120 acre clearcut that was completely impenetrable. That buck would have to walk up the east edge of the field and go under my stand for me to get a shot at him. There were a few giant rubs on trees about 50 yards north of my stand that said he used that path at some point in time.
In the off-season, I cut a winding path through the cutover across the creek and to the stand so I could get there silently. I also cut a few shooting lanes while leaving plenty of cover & canopy to hide behind. I sweetened my creek crossing by adding a few big rocks to the sandbar that would allow me to cross quietly on sure footing. I only worked there in the Spring before a forecast rainstorm, so my scent would be washed away quickly and the deer would have all Summer to get used to the changes I'd made. I decided to wait until it got into October to hunt that area when there would be a lot of acorns falling near my stand. Plus, I wasn't as likely to get covered in sweat on my way in there and give him a better chance of winding me, like may happen in the early season.
One crisp evening in the middle of October, I heard a deer approaching slowly behind me & I was sure it had to be him. He wasn't even trying to be quiet, like a bold boss buck who has usually gotten his way, might sometimes act. I checked to make sure the arrow was on the rest and the nock was tight against the string. I kept looking ahead so I didn't get busted turning around to check him out. I'd have the rest of my life to admire him and I wasn't about to get buck fever on this deal. I looked at the sewing thread tied to my stabilizer to check wind direction as I tried to calm my nerves. He was getting closer with every step and wouldn't be able to smell me until he was well past my stand. It was still light enough that today was going to be judgment day for both of us, one way or another. The moment I live for was about to happen. Twenty five feet right below my stand, I could see limbs twitching as he was probably browsing or maybe his antlers were hitting them as he fed. It felt like my heart was going to beat it's way out of my chest and the blood was just pounding in my ears. As he stepped out farther, I held off from looking straight down. "Be the tree", "Be the tree" kept running through my mind. I decided to wait until he was at least 10 yards from the base of the tree before I shot. This was going to happen & SOON.. He went under a big cedar, which allowed me to shift slightly toward him to get a better shot. I could only see brown & white through the cedar limbs. I closed my eyes to help compose myself until I heard him step beyond the cedar. I got ready to draw & looked down to pick my spot...only to see a GOAT standing there munching away on any branch he could get his mouth on. WHAT!?! He belonged to the black family who lived beside the school & must have chewed through his rope to escape.
&%@$! Man, was I bent out of shape.
Aggravated, I let him pass and hunted until dark. I had a few smaller bucks and a few does & fawns in range, but NOT what I was after. I had to work the next few days straight and had a bass tournament the next Saturday that I had too much money on to ignore. The day after the bass tournament, I got a call from a hunting buddy who knew I was after a huge buck somewhere in the area. He told me that a giant buck that would probably make the B & C book had been hit by a vehicle the night before where the creek crossed the road below the school. I was sick and felt a knot rising in my stomach. All the time & effort, stealth, and keeping my mouth shut so nobody else would try to hunt him came to a crashing end. I couldn't force myself to hunt that stand again & I left it alone for a few days before I went in to move it. Since that big buck was gone, I wanted to show my buddy where I'd been hunting with such dedication and not telling anybody about. I was anxious to see the look in his eyes when he saw the size of those rubs. As we walked over to where the rubs were, a giant buck bounded out of it's bed and leapt across the creek and into the big couover in three bounds. We were in shock and looked at each other in disbelief. That was on a sunday. The following day, they started clearcutting the timber where the rubs and bedding area were. AARRGGHH!!! I have never seen as big a buck since, but I hope to every time I go hunting. They do get huge if you let 'em.
I wish I had a better ending to this story, but it's the truth.
Luck Counts, good or bad