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Better than Magic Mountain

PhotoBy Brian Ries
-- I have hunted on small properties in western Pennsylvania for my entire life but have never experienced anything like what I'm about to tell in this story. Nick, a good friend of mine, inherited a 60-acre farm from his grandfather in 2004. We have been hunting the grounds pretty regularly since then and have only taken one buck.

We have bowhunted here and there but were kind of discouraged about never getting a buck close enough to shoot at. But November 2006 changed our minds forever. I had been hunting the property almost every other day since the start of archery season, and I had missed a small 8-point buck early on. And due to the unusual heat that year, I was almost ready to hang it up and pray for a running buck during rifle season.

I decided to give it one more try on Nov. 2. I hunted by myself in the morning in the same stand overlooking a thorn patch a beagle couldn't get through. That morning it was about 70 degrees and humid - not the kind of weather I wanted for deer hunting. I saw nothing moving at all because of the heat.

Around 11 a.m., I went in for lunch and wasn't certain I would go back out. While at home, I caught an episode of "Buckmasters" about rattling for bucks in the rut. I had an old pair of sheds I'd found a long time ago. I thought since I wasn't seeing anything by sitting quietly in the stand why not give it a try. I called up Nick and told him to meet me at the house after work and we would try it.

Nick told me it would never work. "That only happens on TV," he said. I convinced him to give it a go and we headed into the woods right beside his treestand, but we were standing on the ground. I pulled out my sheds and my grunt call and started a sequence of rattling and grunting and scraping some trees. Nick stood 5 yards from me, holding his bow but looking pretty bored. I continued to rattle for about 5 or 6 minutes when I saw Nick look at me with eyes bigger than baseballs, and he pointed straight ahead.

There was a 10-point buck! It was one of the biggest bucks we had ever seen on the property in a full-out run straight at us. I stopped rattling in amazement of not only the buck but the fact that it was coming straight at us as we held our position on the ground.

Once I stopped rattling, the buck slowed, turned broadside and started walking toward the hill to our left. Nick and I both sat frozen, wondering if this was really happing. The buck was about 15 yards away, and I grunted as Nick drew his bow back. The buck stopped, looked right at us and Nick let go. It was a perfect shot and the buck never took another step.

We were so excited with our rattling work that we called everyone we knew and told them the story. It was also Nick's first deer with a bow, which made it even sweeter.

Was it luck? I don't think so. The very next day I was so excited about rattling and the reaction of the deer that I went out by myself to give it a try. That morning I got up in a stand we had by some apple trees and waited until about 8:30 a.m. before I began rattling. Nothing came around until about 10 minutes after I stopped. A small 6-point buck and a spike came running in from different directions. Although I had never gotten a deer, let alone a buck with my bow, I passed on these two to let them grow up a bit.

I waited in that stand for nearly 5 hours until these bucks finally moved out of the area so I could get down and take a slow walk around. Around 1 p.m. I decided to make my way back toward where Nick had gotten his buck the day before. I put my pack down stood up on an old dead tree stump and glassed the brush for a minute. There was not a deer in sight.

I pulled the antlers and grunt out of my pack and began the same sequence of grunts and rattling while I looked down the hill into the thick brush. As I looked down the hill, a flash caught my eye from the right. I turned to see a beautiful 8-point buck running right at me.

The buck caught my movement as I picked up my bow and gave me a foot stomp. The buck stood 30 yards away and was broadside. I drew my bow back as it gave me another stomp. Then I buried the arrow in both lungs before it took off. I was so excited that it worked and couldn't wait to tell everyone what had happened AGAIN.

I waited an hour and picked up the buck's trail at the base of a tree and followed it into the neighboring cornfield. After a good 800-yard track, I found my first deer with a bow in the field - a beautiful 8-point buck!

Two big bucks in two days while rattling during the rut ... you can't get that excitement at Disney World!

Brian Ries
Export, Pennsylvania

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