I’d like to say this was some kind of amazing hunt, but there wasn’t a whole lot to it.
I was hunting on private land in Botetourt County. It’s a lot of acreage, most of it woods. But there’s a large field (grass and clover) and several smaller food plots. I’d done a couple of morning hunts on a travel route from the big field to a bedding area, and seen a good number of does but no bucks. And I’d sat watching the big field a couple evenings and seen quite a few does, a few yearling bucks, and a couple non-shooter 2.5-year-old bucks.
While I knew I would have action if I went back to the field on Thursday evening I decided to gamble and go to a stand that’s a half-mile from the nearest food plot or field. We’ve been talking all season about how the lack of acorns is affecting where deer are. So why would I even bother going into the woods? Good question. I told my hunting buddy it was like violating a golden rule of fishing: Don’t leave fish to find fish. But I like this spot as it’s near a recent clear cut on an adjacent property. And no one had been even close to it this season. Two years ago I hunted the spot a few times and always had action. Last year it was a bust.
I settled in to my hang-on about 2 p.m. and tried not to fall asleep in the warm afternoon sun. About 3 p.m. I heard something coming. It was a 2.5-year-old six-pointer (but not a good six-pointer) that I had been seeing in the field. He walked directly under my stand, which was cool. He was a good-sized deer and clearly won’t amount to much in the antler department. But I’ll leave it to someone else to decide to remove him from the gene pool.
About an hour later a couple does started filtering in to the area from the clearcut thicket. They moved on. A six-pointer appeared and followed them. About 4:30 two does came in and started feeding. I am not sure what they were eating because there are no acorns. Well, 15 minutes later this buck rolls in on them. They bolted and the buck stood there, trying to figure out what to do.
He was about 70 yard away. I could see he was pretty good but didn’t know how good. We try to pass up good 2.5-year-olds on the place and I have passed up a number of them over the years. The landowner’s rule is one buck a year, which I think is a great rule, actually. I’ve also shot two bucks there (in 14 years of hunting) and both turned out to be over-achieving 2.5-year-olds. But I knew that I had to make a quick decision because this buck was going to follow the does, which had headed off in the other direction. So I aimed and pulled the trigger. (Equipment notes: I was using an old Knight LK93 with a Tasco 2×7 32mm scope. It’s a rig my buddie Alfie Hammerstrom loaned to me when I had some issues with my even older, simpler T/C Hawken. The the thing probably isn’t worth $100 bucks but it shoots like a champ. Thanks, Alfie!)
At the shot, the buck ran right at me and crashed 20 yards from my stand. The second picture is an unzoomed shot from my stand.
He is not a giant. The rack is 16 inches wide but tine length and mass are pretty good. I’d guess he’s a 3.5-year-old or one of those over-achieving 2.5-year-olds I have a thing for. He field dressed at 140 pounds, which is good for this property. Actually, he’s my heaviest field-dressed buck. I’m happy with him.
So, there you have it. A long story about a pretty simple hunt. But, I’m a writer and that’s what I do.
Now y’all go out there and get one!