By: Robert Weller.
I was having a busy October. Busier than I had wanted it to be that’s for sure. I had intended on taking every weekend off in October and November so that I could get some quality time in the woods, especially during the early archery season here in Michigan. I think I made it out a total of five or six times to sit in the tree stand the entire month of October. To say I was getting frustrated with how my 2023 archery deer season was going would be an understatement. The phone just would not stop ringing with requests from friends and family that seemed to need something worked on or fixed. I’m an electrician and in general a handy guy so sometimes it seems I am the go-to guy when anything breaks. It’s not a bad deal most times of the year and I can make a little extra cash to fund my hunting and fishing hobbies. It just seemed like this year everyone I knew waited until the start of deer season to pick up the phone and well, let’s just say I have a hard time telling people no.
It was October 31st, Halloween, and I was at work. My phone had been blowing up all morning with text messages from a couple of my buddies that were in their tree stands. They were both reporting sightings of shooter bucks and lots of deer movement. It was killing me. I had taken that Thursday and Friday off work but was scheduled to work one more day before I could get to the woods myself. After a brief text conversation with my wife, she convinced me that I deserved to take an extra day. So, I contacted my boss and got approved for one additional day off. That was it, I was going to be in the woods on November 1st. I was finally going bow hunting!
The following morning, I got up and eagerly got ready for what I had hoped would be a great morning in the woods. I grabbed the ole’ Mathews Drenalin, jumped in the truck and headed out to Steve’s house. Steve is the landowner where I hunt and has been my hunting partner for about the past 5 years. We were both pumped when we saw a thin layer of fresh snow on the ground that morning. The temperature was 31 degrees, and the wind was calm. We got suited up, grabbed our bows, and headed to the woods. On our way back we decided where each of us would sit. I opted to walk to the South West corner of the property and sit in a hang on tree stand that I had hung on the edge of the woods with a cut corn field behind me and a thick area of brush in front of me. Steve decided he would sit on the North end of what we call the orchard. Steve’s property is a relatively small piece of land but it’s thick and those bucks love to push does in there when it’s time to breed.
I arrived at my stand before the sun started to come up and climbed in. I reached for my phone so I could text Steve and let him know I was safely in my stand. My phone? Where was it? I know I remembered grabbing it out of the truck. I frantically checked all my pockets again and again. I didn’t have it. Uhg! Just perfect, I finally made it out hunting and I forgot my phone. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I needed the phone to keep me occupied. Steve and I just have a habit of letting each other know when we reach our stands and that we are safely in them. We also text back and forth throughout the hunt to communicate on what we are seeing in the way of deer. I thought “I hope Steve doesn’t come walking back to check on me thinking I fell. This could potentially ruin my hunt.” So, I thought maybe if I grunted a couple of times real loud before light, Steve would hopefully realize I was ok. I blasted on the grunt call a couple of times and hoped for the best. We weren’t hunting much more than a hundred yards apart so I hoped he would hear the grunts. He never came looking for me, so I assumed it worked.
It was just after daybreak when I caught movement in the field to the North. A small group of doe and fawns paraded across the open field and turned South on the edge of the woods heading right for me. I thought “Man, I hope there’s a big buck following that group.” The does slowly filtered down past me but, no bucks. About a half hour later, the doe had moved on and the first buck of the morning showed up. A nice year and a half old eight point followed by an even smaller four point. From then on It seemed like about every 15 minutes or so, a pair of two bucks traveling together would come across the field behind me and pass right under my stand moving into the thick brush and head East. They were all in that same class of deer, smaller younger bucks. Then after about 4 sets of bucks had passed by, a lonely buck showed up. He was nothing special, just another small four point if I remember correctly. I remember thinking “where is your traveling buddy?” I slowly turned my head and peaked around the tree to have a look behind me and wow, there was a shooter! Sixty yards out and coming in. I had just enough time to grab my bow, turn around a draw back. He got just to the edge of the woods, and he stopped. Of course, he stopped, that’s what the big ones do. It was as if this deer knew if he took three more steps, he was going to have an arrow let loose on him. I continued to keep the pin on him and wait. I just needed him to follow the same path every other buck that morning took. I needed him to cross that property line. I had him at fifteen yards, but he was on the wrong side of the property line. Finally, the tall racked eight point started to move and then NO. He went around the wrong side of the tree. No shot. I let the bow down and grabbed a doe bleat can. No luck, he was walking away and there was nothing that was going to change his mind. One last thing to try, a snort wheeze. He kicked it in high gear and headed right towards Steve. I thought, “well, maybe Steve will get a crack at him.” But then I saw him again. He was backing up, a bigger bodied deer was telling the big eight, “Not today buddy”. I watched the eight I had wanted to shoot walk off and disappear to the East. Despite every effort I made, I could not get the buck that chased him off to emerge from the brush he was in.
Not having my phone and no watch either, I was looking at the sun and figured it must be around 11 o’clock in the morning. The deer movement had died down and I was ready to go meet up with Steve to see how his morning had gone. I climbed down and walked up the West edge of the property. I heard a bunch of deer take off as I got close to the North edge of the wooded area of the property and figured I had just scared every deer off the property. What a bummer. Only a few more yards and I would be at the opening in the fencerow that led into the duck grass open area on the property. I heard something take off and looked up to see a little doe being chased by a huge eight point. He was bigger than the one I had drawn back on earlier that morning. There was nothing I could do but watch him and a smaller eight-point chase her around the clearing. The three of them ended up at the trail opening that we use to access the property up closer to the house. They were right in front of one of our elevated gun blinds. Instantly my thoughts went from wow look at that deer to where is Steve? I had no phone to contact him with and I had no way to know if he was still in the woods or not. I had no choice but to wait. Sure enough, after a few minutes I saw Steve pop out on the trail. He was headed right for that big buck, and he didn’t even know it. I had to stop him. I whispered with my hands cupped around my mouth as loud as I dared. Steve heard me and stopped. I crawled across that duck grass for about 100 yards to get to Steve. After a brief exchange of how our mornings had gone, I told Steve we needed to go back to the woods and take the long way around back to the house. We did just that. After we got to the house, I wanted to grab my crossbow and see if I could sneak in on that deer, but Steve seemed a little skeptical of the idea. We decided to stay out there and go back around 2:30 that afternoon in hopes of catching the old boy still tending his doe. I don’t think Steve had a lot of faith that either of us stood a chance, but I had to try.
I passed Steve on his way to town on my way back out to his place about 2:00. I called and he said, “go ahead, I’ve got to run to town but I’ll be back.” I got to Steve’s house and quickly threw on my hunting suit. I grabbed my Ten Point Stealth NXT crossbow and snuck as quietly as I possibly could across 80 yards of cut corn. I just had to get up in that gun blind to see down into the tall brush where I had last seen that buck. It seemed to take forever to cross that little section of corn, but I managed to get myself into the blind and never heard or saw a single deer take off. Just a few minutes later, I got a text from Steve. It read “well?” I replied, “I did not hear or see any deer take off as I snuck in here. I do not see any deer in the brush, but he could be anywhere.” Steve replied, “I’m coming out.” My heart sank. What if the buck was bedded in front of me somewhere and he spooks it off. It could ruin my chance of shooting one of the biggest bucks of my life. Just then, I heard a grunt from right out in front of me. I immediately texted Steve “STOP, I just heard a grunt. He’s in front of me somewhere.” I was just starting to text Steve another message to tell him the grunt may have come from just West of the blind when I heard another grunt. I looked up from my phone and there he was. He was right in front of me, under a small tree that I know is 40 yards away. He was standing at a steep quartering away angle. Without hesitation I set the phone down and got the crossbow out the window. I pushed the safety off, set the forty-yard crosshair on the back rib and squeezed the trigger. It all happened so fast, I never had time to get excited. I had nailed him! He turned and ran East into some crab apple trees. I saw blood rushing out of the exit wound in his neck and I knew he wasn’t going far. I called Steve and began to shake. I told Steve the story and said, “I’ve got to get out of this blind”. Steve met me at the bottom of the ladder and gave me a hug as he told me he was in the field behind me and only 40 yards West of the blind when he heard the shot. We went and found where the buck had been bedded and found my crossbow bolt. We didn’t wait long as the blood trail suggested he was not going far. It was only about ten or fifteen yards into the blood trail that we looked up and could see him. He had expired within 40 yards of where I shot him. This was one hunt that I will certainly remember forever. It was over in a matter of minutes, but it was certainly exciting.
This is only one of a few deer in my life that I have successfully snuck in on and made the shot. Every time I look at pictures of this deer or the trophy on the wall, I will remind myself that when you are good to people and take care of others, putting their needs ahead of your own desires, God will bless you. I thank God for a good friend that is willing to share his property with me and for amazing adventures in the woods.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed telling it. God Bless and good luck in the woods!