I have been hunting strictly public land for the past month. I spent most of October and November chasing one specific buck on a piece of private, but lost access to the property when firearm season started. Luckily for me, the other hunters who have access to the land for firearm, muzzleloader, and late antlerless firearm are finally done hunting for the year so I was able to get back out and take a few more shots at seeing this buck during shooting hours. Yesterday, I headed out around 2pm and was surprised to bump three deer on my way in to set up in a tree. Luckily they didn’t stomp or blow and just dashed off for a bit before settling back down.
Setting up, I was as quiet as possible and didn’t want to bump the group of does again. The first two hours were quiet. The wind was in my favor, but the mostly bare trees were not. Ever conscious of how much visibility has increased on the property since winter began, I basically settled in to not moving any more than absolutely necessary. Around 4:30pm, a group of two mature does and four younger deer were headed in my direction. As they got closer to and eventually passed my tree, I froze and was careful to remain still. Thinking they would wind me when they passed by my tree, I waited for the inevitable sound of them running away, but it never came. The Ozonics device I was running, my scent control regimen, or maybe just my silence and stillness made me temporarily invisible to them and they just carried on slowly moving toward the nearby food source.
Several minutes later, a four-point I’ve seen a few times this year came into view. I picked up my binoculars to verify what buck it was and realized it was a young deer of probably 1.5 years old. Oblivious to my presence, the buck moved down the deer trail that ran next to my tree and remained in shooting range for several minutes as he worked his way through the trees. I knew by passing on him I am setting the property up well for next season and also, possibly setting up a chance to see the eight-point I was waiting for. The final half-hour of shooting light came and went without any more deer.
I was bummed out to not have seen my target deer but began reflecting on the hunt on my way home. I had picked a good location to hunt. My time scouting and hunting the property this year has paid off with a pretty good knowledge of how the deer are using the area. My patience and care in setting up in the tree meant that I didn’t scare off any deer all afternoon. I also passed on a younger buck that meant I was practicing good management and conservation. While I would have been happy to see and get a shot at a more mature buck, the fact was that I did everything right that was in my control. All in all, it was definitely a successful hunt. With 5 more chances to hunt that property this year, I will be back out tomorrow and hoping that a small bit of luck goes my way and I see the eight point.