There are some things in hunting you have to experience before you believe they’re true.
It was opening day of muzzleloader season in McNairy County, Tenn. The days had been getting colder, so I was hoping the rut was about to kick in. I had been scanning several areas for a place my set up my ladder stand and decided on a pine tree in front of a spot where the landowner had turned around his tractor and bush hog.
I got to the woods at around 5:45 a.m., so it was just starting to get light enough to see where I was going. I made my way to the stand, climbed up and loaded the old smoke pole.
I heard a few shots early. Then, a few hours later when I hadn’t seen anything, I started to get discouraged. I was about to get down out of my stand when I heard something moving in the brush.
Suddenly I heard grunting and saw the tips of antlers moving through the thicket. I quickly raised my muzzleloader and found the buck in my scope.
I slowly pulled back the hammer, buck the buck locked onto my location at the sound of the hammer’s click.
I could only see the buck’s head and couldn’t believe my horrible luck when the antsy buck turned and slowly walked back the way he came.
Then I realized I had a grunt call on a string around my neck. I pulled it out and grunted three times, keeping my muzzleloader at the ready.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of movement to my left. I glanced over to see that the buck had stepped out on the same trail I had come in on.
I brought the gun up to the ready position, but a pesky pine limb blocked the vitals.
It felt like an eternity as the seconds ticked by until the deer finally took two more steps, which finally brought it into the open. It fell in its tracks at the boom of the muzzleloader.
In total shock at the size of the deer, I called my dad for assistance. I figured I might need help getting the deer loaded in a vehicle, and I was sure my wife would have been furious if I put it in her minivan.
The buck was an 8-pointer that weighed 185 pounds field-dressed.
It was the first time in 20-plus years of hunting I have ever called in a deer, but I’ll never again go into the woods without a grunt call.