I sat in my trees stand, tipping my head back to lean against the tree, and watched three hawks soar high above. The swirling breeze set my tree to swaying while I felt the tension of a busy work week melt away. As the hawks soared out of sight, I closed my eyes and hoped to take a quick little nap.
Before I could drift off to sleep, I heard leaves crunching behind me and to my right. I knew instantly that it was not a squirrel scurrying through the woods. I opened my eyes and tipped my head, ever so slowly, towards my right shoulder and strained my eyes to see the source of the noise.
I could see a grey shape in the edge of my vision. It was the body of a deer. Not just any deer, the very first one I’ve seen from a tree stand. As the animal continued to move, I rolled my head to get a better view. It was a buck, a big buck. It continued to move through the woods, about twelve yards from my stand, and my heart pounded.
The buck continued around me, in an arc or sorts, never putting its head down for more than a second. I was trapped in my seat. Surely it would see me if I stood and picked up my bow. The buck continued on its path, finally stepping behind a bit of brush. I shot up out of my seat, grabbed my bow, and clipped on my release.
My hunting partner, who was in a tree well out of sight, began to grunt. He saw the buck heading in my direction and hoped to stop it so that I would have a shot. Unfortunately, the buck stopped, for a brief moment, behind the brush where I couldn’t get a shot. My partner continued to grunt but the big buck wasn’t interested and moved on.
In less than a minute I had a big buck come through my area, giving me a potential shot at twelve yards, before leaving. It was a thrilling experience and I would have been proud to have shot that animal. I’ve never considered mounting a deer but had that been my first deer, I would have proudly displayed it in my home.
I stood for a few minutes, hoping that the deer would double back to check out the grunt from my partner but it never did. I set my bow back down and settled in my seat, reliving the experience in my mind. About twenty minutes later, I hear more rustling behind me, this time off to my left. I rolled my head right and watched another grey shape come into view.
Another buck had cruised into my area, this one even closer to my stand. This deer was much smaller than the first and had one broken antler. I counted four points, stood, and picked up my bow. This deer was much smaller and, to be honest, I didn’t really want to shoot it after having seen the first one.
I knew that I shouldn’t be too picky when it came to shooting my first deer. I decided that if it presented a shot, I was going to take it. I watched the deer move around for about a minute, oblivious to me standing in the tree mere yards away, it approached a clear shooting lane.
I readied myself and prepared to draw when the deer turned and walked directly away from me. It slowly made its way through some brush and into a field beyond, never to show itself a again.
I wish I could show you harvest photos of that first magnificent buck, or even proud photos of the smaller buck, but I can’t. I didn’t get a shot at either animal but I can’t express how proud I am to have been in that position. I was upwind of both deer, when they approached, and went undetected. This experience has made me even more eager to hit the woods in hopes of bagging my first buck.
Technically, this may not be a success story, but it is my most successful hunt to date. I’ll take this experience over watching squirrels forage, any time.
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