It’s January 12th and I’m sitting in my tree stand on my last day to hunt of the Missouri deer season. The weather is unseasonably warm with temperatures in the 60’s and wind gusts up to 15 mph. It has been a rough winter up until this point with a lot of ice, snow and temperatures below zero. I’m hunting over a five acre field planted with brassica and turnips that has been a hot spot on my property since December.
Suddenly I hear the familiar sound of leaves crunching behind me in the woods. I know a deer is coming but I’m still not able to see what it is. A few seconds later I look to my left and a beautiful 9 point steps out, walking under my stand. I know immediately that this is the buck I am after. I draw my bow back and realize he is too close to shoot. Afraid that he may see me let my bow down I hold it at full draw as he continues to walk in front of me and circles around directly downwind. I just know I am going to get busted but thanks to my Deaux Girl scent control products he has no clue I am there.
Instead of going into the turnips like normal he heads straight to my infRACKtion mineral attractant which is 23 yards in front of my stand. He turns broadside. I take the opportunity for this shot and let my arrow fly, passing through both of his lungs. As he runs off both of his antlers fly off of his head, landing several feet apart. (This made it a little tricky for trophy photos, but I did the best I could to hold them on for photos). I have always heard stories of this happening when shooting a buck so late in season but have never witnessed this myself.
I spend a moment thanking God for such an incredible hunt. After I am able to gain some composure I call my husband Jared at home who comes to help me begin tracking. I knew I made a good shot and there was a great blood trail that led us right to my buck, about 80 yards from my stand. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong! Before this story of success lies one of multiple mishaps and failures. To say that my deer season has been tough would be an understatement!
At the beginning of deer season I first caught this 9 point on my PlotWatcher Pro from Day 6 Outdoors coming into this turnip plot. The PlotWatcher allowed me to watch the entire plot from a distance, unlike regular trail cams, to see when and where the deer were coming into it. I knew the first time I saw this buck that he was the one I wanted to go after this season. He was a mature deer and the biggest one on our property. To me, that makes him a shooter!
I finally had my first encounter with him while bow hunting in November. A cold front was moving through and to increase my odds of shooting him I sat in my stand all day. He finally came out at 25 yards broadside and it was the perfect shot opportunity. It was also a really windy day & I had on a camo scarf to help stay warm. I drew my bow back and the wind blew my scarf right over my face. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get it out of my way so I opted not to shoot, rather than to risk making a bad shot. I was extremely disappointed in myself for letting something like this happen and just knew that I would never get another shot at this deer.
Rifle season started shortly after this hunt and fell at the peak of the rut. A hot doe led this buck to me once again but they were right on the edge of a thick wood line and I couldn’t get a clear shot. I waited and waited, hoping they would make their way in front of my stand, but they didn’t come back. Disappointment hit me once again but I knew with muzzle loader season coming up soon that I may get another chance at him.
Muzzle loader season came and sure enough, I saw this buck again following a doe. They were at 150 yards and I took the shot once he turned broadside, only to shoot completely underneath him. Not only that, I gave myself “scope eye”. Now I consider myself to be a pretty calm and patient hunter but at this point I had had enough. I had a mini-melt down in my stand, which may or may not have included a few choice words and some tears! Never in my past hunting experiences had I had this many opportunities at a deer and not been able to seal the deal!
I finally calmed down a week or two after my little breakdown and decided that I couldn’t shoot a deer by sitting at home pouting! It was time to get back in the woods and try again. I realized that I was putting too much pressure on myself before and my outlook had completely changed. I had come to terms with the fact that I may not get a single deer this season and I was ok with that. Then January 12th came. My hard work and perseverance had finally paid off and I realized that I needed to have a season like this. I have never had so much appreciation for shooting an animal! My past seasons had never been this hard, but I had some hard lessons to learn this year and if I had shot him in November I would have learned nothing new.
Part of being a hunter is learning from your past experiences. I had learned a lot from my previous years of bow hunting but I can say, without a doubt, that this year was my most educational. Not only did I learn a lot about deer hunting, this year I learned a lot about myself. I will be forever grateful for this deer season and all of the memories that were made, good and bad!