posted by Jim on Jan 6
2008 started out like any other year, trail camera pictures produced a few shooters and, of course, one long shot monster target that was very nocturnal. I have always said, “Trail cameras are the world’s best invention and the world’s worst invention at the same time.” That statement was definitely fitting for the outcome of my 2008 bow season. You always like to picture yourself shooting the giant you set your sights on year in and year out, but things just aren’t that simple. The rut just seems to magically put those cruisers right in your lap, just to see if you will hold true to your pre-season plan. Luckily for me, I’m the kind of guy who seems to be a little weak when it comes to temptation and big bucks.
My season started out a bit slow as I had a tragic passing of a family member near the beginning of the season. I didn’t make it out much in October but November held a lengthy vacation as usual. We experienced extremely high winds during that first week of November, but things began to change and as the weather cooled the rutting action definitely heated up. I passed on a nice 10 point in the 150 inch range on November 10th that had me slightly nervous about a possible mistake. My confidence remained high as activity was at its peak and I had nothing but time until the end of my vacation, which was still over a week away. I hunted the morning of November 11th along an oak ridge which should have provided plenty of late morning rutting action, with the addition of a fresh rain over night. Unfortunately for me, that movement never happened but luckily for me, the forecast had a wind shift moving in around lunch time. I headed to the house around 11 A.M. to check the weather and grab a bite to eat. Upon checking the weather, I noticed the haze and gloomy look in the air outside and it just felt like a great day to witness movement at any time. I verified the wind and headed to my new destination, a transitional rut funnel that headed out to a large pasture filled with grassy draws and plenty of cover. This type of area has been good to me over the years and I am a firm believer that during the rut the biggest bucks will seclude does out in these open areas. You can also sit in these locations in anticipation of catching bucks between does or just heading back from crop fields in the bottoms to head for these secluded hideouts.
I arrived at roughly 12:00 that afternoon. It’s a bit of a walk in but I took my time as it was also a bit muddy from the fresh rain. A large set of buck tracks on the road had my optimism for a good day on the rise. I checked my trail camera at about 12:15 as I wanted to see what kind of activity had been going on prior to my arrival. This was one of those spots where the action can be short-lived and slow during the times leading up to and after the rut. Timing is crucial and I take pride in staying out until things are just right. My excitement for the hunt was a bit dampened when I found that there were only a dozen photos on the camera. The camera had only been in this location for a few days as I set it up in a rain shower on a windy day a few days prior. It wasn’t totally discouraging, as the weather hadn’t been that great leading up and trail the camera sat on was only one option out of about 4 in traveling through this funnel. However, it was what I felt was the best trail in good shooting and video range. I climbed up into my stand and was setting up all of my gear when I happened to look up briefly and caught movement heading in my direction. I was totally caught off guard and after pulling up my binoculars I knew I had to hurry to get my video camera attached to the camera arm. This was a buck and he was definitely cruising! I got enough of a look to see that I couldn’t pass him up. I knew he had a few stickers and a good frame, but honestly I just looked him over enough to see that he was a good buck and that was about it. It all happened so fast that I think I was just going on adrenaline. I got decent video of the approach but he took a different trail than what I had my good video lanes for and I missed getting the shot on film by a couple feet. I knew the lane he was working towards was great for me, but not for the camera angle. I grunted him to stop at 30 yards and released a good arrow and I watched it disappear in his chest. I knew after the hit that he wasn’t going far. I was able to get the camera on him right away after the shot so I was able to get him on film going down just 50 yards away. I backed out and requested the help of a good friend and was back in for the recovery a half hour later.
My buck ended up having one broken sticker off the left G-3 but I don’t think that would have changed my mind had I known it anyway. The blood trail was the most incredible thing I have ever seen as it looked like somebody emptied a paint bucket the entire way. I soon found out why as my arrow penetrated the heart and put the animal down cleanly. I had always wanted to take a buck in the mid-day and I am a firm believer in the all day movement during the rut. I haven’t had him officially scored yet but I taped him out myself and green scored him at 159 2/8.
Whitetails truly amaze me with their uncanny ability to appear and disappear all at the same time. The buck I had my sights on for the season never showed up on the trail cameras during the rut and I feel that he was just there over the summer while eating on the summer soybean crop nearby. Changing habits including diet and breeding status seem to play a huge role in the ever changing season and that is what keeps me going strong at the same time. I had no idea about the buck that I ended up harvesting but the coolest thing happened the night that I harvested him. I was at home checking out my SD card from my trail camera when I got to my last three photos and, you guessed it, it was my buck cruising through the same spot that very morning! Had I been on stand then the wind would have been wrong and I probably never would have seen him. That just goes to show that when whitetail hunting, every day is a new day.