Perhaps one of the biggest is the size of the buck, bull, or boar. There are however, many other aspects that add to the story and adventure. Yesterday was such a day.
I’ve been having a better than normal year for spotting big shooter bucks. Just none were 20 yards or less. A couple were close...oh so close.
Arriving at my lot early yesterday afternoon I was dismayed to see the lower edge of my property which border a river was completely flooded out. Not a chance of hunting a single one of them.
I had two choices. Go home or sit on the ground on one of the heavily used trails on the higher ground and hope for the best. After making the 45 minute drive, I was not interested in heading back home. Although I did consider it. The daytime high temp was around -6. The winds were simply howling. Big spruce were swaying like blades of grass. Add in the occasional snow squall and it was a full fledged blustery winter day more typical of January than the last day of November.
With about 30 minutes of light left I first caught movement coming through the thick evergreens at about 40 yards. It was a small buck with a bearing that would put him right in my lap. When he was pushing through some especially thick stuff, I got into a kneeling position. Bow arm out...fingers hooked on the black widow’s string.
The bucks kept coming directly at me. 30 yards, 20 yards, 10 yards !. After that I was measuring it in feet. I’ll have to go back and pace it off, but he came to somewhere between 10 and 20 feet.
We were almost nose to nose. The wind was in my favor. But at 10 feet, even a young immature buck sensed the kneeling blob just wasn’t quite right. He stared long and hard at me. But, while I can’t really explain it, he was still curious not completely alarmed.
Before I gave myself an imaginary slap, I briefly thought about shooting him in the chest. The things that go through your mind. With the fresh snow, I knew with such a shot, blood might be minimal, but I could follow his tracks, and if fatal ...I'd find him. The key word was “if”. I quickly dismissed the idea. I held my ground.
The buck relaxed and turned hard to his right to head out into the field of standing wheat. He was broadside but brush covered his vitals. I watched his head for signs of what he was about to do. After a minute or so, he ducked his head down and I knew he was going to take a step. I had about a 2 foot opening where I could shoot.
Luckily , he just took one step and stopped. Leaving his head behind cover but his vitals exposed. I pulled the limbs back to that beautiful S shape I love so much about recurves. My middle finger found the tooth I use as an anchor. I stared at a tuft of fur.
Almost unexpectedly, the arrow launched. I saw the tuft of fur part. I heard the thump. The buck ran out into the field. I watched him fall while on the run at 40 yards with hardly a kick.
Once again, I became aware of the brutal wind and sub 0 temps. Although the buck was down, I instinctively followed his tracks and blood trail to him.
After a couple pictures, I went to my truck and retrieved the sled. Dragging would be easy with the sled and the fresh wind polished snow. I forgot about the biting wind though. It was especially bad out in the open field.
Regardless, step by step I worked towards the truck. Being a small buck, the drag was one of the easier ones I've had recently. Make no mistake though, the fierce wind made up for the easy dragging.
Once back home, after he was cleaned and hanging, ready for the butcher’s cooler in the morning, I retreated into the house and it’s warmth in front of the fire.
By all accounts, it had been an adventure and a perfect day for a solo hunt from start to finish. Despite offers of help, for whatever reason, I enjoy doing such things alone.
Sitting here today, nice and warm by a raging fire, the outside temps are still cold. I’m glad he’s in a cooler as he would be frozen hard by now.
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday. I hope I enjoy future hunts as much.