Hi Mike: My husband, Joe, and I had been planning the October 15th weekend as “our hunting weekend.” We lease some land with 2 other families about 1 1/2 hours from our hometown in Iowa, so we decided to rent a cabin down there and hunt Saturday night and Sunday morning.
We headed down about 2 p.m and were in our stands by 4:00. Joe’s stand is about 600 yards from mine, so he drops me off on the 4-wheeler first and up I go.
It was a very warm evening and I guess I really didn’t expect to see much, which I didn’t, not even a squirrel. I had prayed several times that evening, “God, please send me something to look at and maybe something to shoot. A doe, a buck, doesn’t matter, just something.”
I’m pretty sure I said one more prayer, and at 6:25 p.m. this buck walks into my area and stands in front of me about 8 feet. I had not seen anything all evening so I was not prepared for this! I didn’t even see him come in until he was right in front of me.
Luckily, he had no idea I was even there. While his head was down I took the opportunity to stand up. I wasn’t positive I was going to shoot him as I could only see the side of his rack, which didn’t look like much.
As I positioned myself better on my feet, the zipper on the bottom of my pants clanked against the metal on my stand. He looked right up at me! I had my bow positioned in front of my face and I froze. I thought, great, he’s gone, but at the same time I was awestruck by what I couldn’t see before– the size of that rack!
Well, he decided I wasn’t much to look at so he put his head back down and continued eating. He was quartered to me so I knew this would be a tough shot but I had to try. I drew back and waited for him to take 2 more steps out from behind the few tall weeds and then I let it fly.
The arrow hit him hard and he let out a hard grunt, then turned and ran the way he came in. I watched him as far as I could, which wasn’t far, as the woods are thick. After I lost sight of him I sent my husband the “buck down” text. He still had daylight and hadn’t seen a thing so he waited until dark to come help me.
I waited for about 5 minutes and got down to look for my arrow and blood. Much to my disappointment I didn’t find either. I searched and searched, nothing. My husband finally came; we searched and searched, still nothing. I was so disappointed. We decided we’d go to the cabin, come back in the morning, hunt until 9:00 and then look for him again.
We left our hunting ground and about 1/4 mile up the gravel road, boom, we hit a cow! Smashed the whole side of our truck. Great, this night was only getting worse. After dealing with the sheriff and the cow’s owner for about 2 hours we finally headed to the cabin. Sleeping was not high on my list as I couldn’t stop thinking about what went wrong with that shot. I knew I hit him hard–why wasn’t there anything to follow?
The next morning we get to our stands about 6:30 a.m. My trail camera always has does on it around 8:30 a.m. so I was hopeful. I said my prayers and waited. 8:30 came around, no does, no nothing. We hunted until 9:00 a.m. and neither of us saw a thing. We met back at my stand and prepared for the search of my buck from the night before.
About 250 yards from my stand is a pond. We decided to follow the “rule of the search” and head that direction. Now that direction means it is straight downhill with very deep ravines. I found the trail that I was pretty sure he came up on so I decided to follow that.
I veered from the trail when I realized it was not going down to the pond. As I got deeper down the ravine I noticed what I thought was a big rock down at the pond. Could that be him? No surely not, it’s probably a big rock. I got within 20 yards of that “rock” and couldn’t believe there was this huge buck lying there! I seriously thought he was asleep and really didn’t think it was the one I shot.
I yelled at Joe, who was up on top of a hill from me. He said, “Don’t move, that’s your buck!” I looked through my binoculars and sure enough there was the hole from my arrow!
For the next 2 hours we proceeded to get him out of there. That was not an easy task. We had to drag him with the winch from the 4-wheeler backwards back up to the top with one of us holding his head and neck off the ground to protect his awesomeness. Once at the top we were able to load him on the 4 wheeler (catching a tine in the brand new seat and ripping a hole, what else could go wrong) and proceed slowly for the next 600 yards through the thick woods to the truck. Finally loaded, we headed home!
Thinking back, there was a reason we never saw any other deer on the hunt. God knew this buck would be all we could handle for the weekend and He was right.
This buck cost us a lot, but we will definitely never forget our “October 15th Weekend Hunt.” And he was worth it all. Thanks for sharing, Marianne.
Great buck and great hunting story…the trials and tribulations that we go through sometimes to get a buck are amazing, but after all these years nothing that happens in the woods surprises me anymore. Way to go Marianne and Joe!
I posted Friday that with the weekend beginning on October 21, the best hunting of the year was about to heat up:
Historical “rut curves” assembled by biologists over decades show that bucks really begin to rev up their scraping around October 20…the data show that 5 to 7 percent of a herd’s does are bred by bucks around October 21… With the cooler weather…that will occur in the Eastern U.S. (last) weekend, I predict the buck movement and hunting will get better… after (last) week of 80-plus Indian Summer days here in Virginia, a cold front will blow through later this afternoon, and the low tomorrow morning will be 44. …the next couple of days should be good.
@mikehanback You were oh so right, big bucks moving with cold front last night in VA. Triple brow tine. Mainframe12, 21scorable pts.
Awesome deer, heavy rack and with split brows for even more character. I’ve asked Wayne for the whole story and will post soon.
Like I said, the hunting is just heating up, and it’s only going to get better over the 3-4 weeks. Get out there and good luck, and be sure to let me know how you do.
After lazy weeks of fattening up on grain and acorns in summer and early fall, whitetail bucks get antsy and start to move around more in mid-October. Historical “rut curves” assembled by biologists over decades show that bucks really begin to rev up their scraping right now, around October 20. Better yet, the data show that 5 to 7 percent of a herd’s does are bred by bucks around October 21, give or take a few days. That’s not a whole lot, but good things happen when bucks start to rip more scrapes and prowl for the first estrus does. The more they are on their feet, the better your chances of seeing and shooting one.
Bonus: There’s little hunting pressure in the woods as compared to what you’ll find later in the peak November rut, so now is a good time to be there.
Best conditions: The thing that kills October hunting is warm to hot weather. But when a cold front blows in and drops the temperature 20 or 30 degrees, perfect. The cooler weather will kick deer into moving more. That will occur in the Eastern U.S. this weekend, where I predict the buck movement and hunting will get better. For example, after a week of 80-plus Indian Summer days here in Virginia, a front will blow through later this afternoon, and the low tomorrow morning will be 44. Although it will heat back up soon, the next couple of days should be good.
Best tree stand: If possible, hang a stand on an oak ridge within 100 yards or so of a corn, soybean or alfalfa field. Set up near a well-used deer trail or creek crossing if you find one. It is a good acorn year in many areas. Many deer will browse on the ridge before moving out to the crops at dusk, if they ever leave the ridge at all. Be ready.
Good Tactics: Try setting 2 scent wicks near your stand, one doused with buck urine and the other with hot doe. (Check your regs, with CWD disease a concern, some states have banned real deer urine, and you’ll have to use a synthetic scent.) When bucks start to prowl, they may circle in to either lure, to fight a rival or love on a gal. Have your grunt call ready and blow it occasionally. A buck might hear it and veer over. Good luck.