In Season Scouting Pays Off

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Last year was a great season filled with close calls but at the end of the season I was left with an empty tag but I did see some really nice deer. I decided that for the 2004 Archery season it was time for a fresh start. I started by buying a new Mathews Outback Bow a half dozen A/C/C arrows and a new trophy drop away rest. I also decided to try a new broad head called the slick trick 125 which is a 4 bladed broad head. I had always used mechanicals but wasn't getting the blood trails I liked. After the bow was broke in and adjusted I felt really confident and excited about the upcoming 2004 archery season. I took my climbing tree stand out with a 3-D target and practiced with my broad heads at 25 feet up and that was a real confidence builder. I decided to approach this season a little different than in past years. Usually I spend every minute I can in a tree from Oct. 1st till Dec. Most of the places I hunt don't have crops on them and big buck sightings are far and few between in Oct. I hung a few early season set ups along with my "rut" stands. I only hunted when the temperatures were a little cooler and when the wind was right as most of my stand were in funnels and on creek shelves which don't get hit heavy until the rut gets closer. By doing this I didn't get "burned" out before the action really heated up. I passed on several smaller bucks early in Oct. I use aerial photos and I spend hours looking at them trying to find something to help me intercept a mature whitetail! One evening while perched 25 feet up in a red oak I had 4 doe's come down off the hill top and cross a ravine at 45 yards. This got me wondering where they came from. I remember earlier in the year I wanted to scout out an area of the farm but had other obligations. The next weekend I walked the ridge and found a great looking area with quit a few rubs both new and old. The hill side dropped down and made a bench then dropped down again into the creek bottom. I picked a tree just up from this ledge and moved one of my deer stands from a field edge. From this stand I could see how the land funneled down. There is a big tract of woods to the north. A pond and pond dam makes the woods split into a "Y" which funneled the deer even more. Just to the south of this wood's was a small pasture. Here the woods funneled down to about 40 yards wide with another pasture at the top of the ridge. The ridge ran N. and S. connecting several tracts of woods. There's also a fence /tree line that separates this farm from another. It run's in from the E. and "T"s into the fence that runs along the lower pasture. The first morning I hunted this stand was Nov. 1st and the wind was out of the N. to N.W. A good wind but not perfect. I heard a buck grunting shortly after day light and looked down in the creek bottom. It took me a while but I eventually made out a nice high racked 8 point buck. I watched as a doe trotted out of the thick bottom and out into the pasture with the buck following behind. An hour or so later a small 6 point buck made his way along the lower pasture and the timber and into the thick creek bottom. Two hours later I saw five doe's break out of the ridge and into the top pasture. Not far behind them was a huge 8 point buck that would score well into the 160's. Unfortunately they were all down wind from me approximately 75 yards. Hopefully the scent loc was doing its job. I felt pretty good about where I hung this stand as I saw two shooter bucks and several other deer. I could also see where the two fences met that there were a lot of deer crossing. I didn't have a good wind to hunt this stand until the evening of Nov. 3rd. It was pretty windy and I didn't think deer would move all that well. I was watching a hunting video and I remember them saying, "You can't kill him while home on the couch". Needless to say I hopped in the shower and was soon on my way to the stand. I was in stand and set up by 2:00 PM. It was really windy with wind gusts up to 20+ miles an hour. At 2:30 I looked up and saw a little 6 point buck that made his way within 20 yards of my stand. The wind was out of the N. At 5:15 the wind died down to a faint breeze and I thought ok it's about to break loose. At 5:30 I saw a doe in the lower pasture. She slowly made her way to the fence crossing and jumped the fence. She continued to browse her way up the hill to the bench and was about 25 yards from me.

Then I heard some loud grunting and looked back down into the pasture. A nice buck was chasing a doe. The doe crossed the fence and made her way up along side the other doe with the buck 10 yards behind her!! This buck had nice length and decent mass so I decided Id take him if a shot presented itself. The does walked by at 10 yards with the buck following. I drew back and the buck stopped behind a tree as the does stopped and were feeding on some acorns so I let back down but stood ready. The does finally decided to move on and the buck started to walk. I drew back and grunted at him twice and he stopped. I took a deep breath settled the pin behind the shoulder and let it fly. The arrow seemed to fly in slow motion and I saw it disappear behind the shoulder and knew it was in the boiler room.

The Slick Trick broad head really did the trick as it was the easiest blood trail I ever followed. The deer ran 40 to 50 yards and piled up. While climbing down two more smaller bucks made their way past the stand. The buck was a nice 9 pointer with a kicker point coming off his right main beam. I saw a lot of really nice deer in 2004 and can't wait to get back at it in 2005!!

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