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Double Jokers

EisentragerBy Pete Eisentrager

-- I grew up in Minnesota hunting and spending time in the outdoors with my entire family. Hunting is truly my one great passions in life. My older brother and I have been hunting together since I was 6 years old. We started out hunting ducks, geese and pheasants. Bird hunting eventually led us into deer hunting once we were old enough. Since the time I shot my first arrow, it has been my goal to harvest a record-book whitetail with my bow.

I moved to Missouri to attend college and decided to make it my home after school, which limited my ability to hunt with my brother on a regular basis. To make up for the distance, we began an annual tradition for him to travel to Missouri and bowhunt for a week every fall. We've been fortunate over the years to both harvest deer on the same day, and in some cases, almost the exact minute several times, which is how we came up with the nickname "Double Jokers," since neither of us takes life too seriously. 

On our annual trip last fall we had been hunting extremely hard for the first four days without any shot opportunities at mature deer. We had seen a lot of deer activity, but just couldn't close the deal. On the fifth day, we made the decision to change up our tactic and move some stands around the farm.

I had seen several deer traveling a ridge just off the road, which was bordered by a bean field and a creek that made a natural funnel for the deer to follow from bed to feed every day. The other area we chose was an oak ridge that dropped off into a deep creek bed, and it had several good trails leading up to the top where deer had been feeding on the falling acorns. I personally didn't like the oak ridge setup much, and my brother wasn't thrilled about hanging a stand 50 yards from a major road, but we went with it anyway.

I had seen deer by the road all season up to that point, so I told my brother to hunt that stand. Since he'd traveled 500 miles I was pretty sure he'd get a shot opportunity over the next two days. That left me with the oak ridge stand, which I wasn't thrilled about but that's what good brothers do, right? The first night in my new setup was uneventful, except for the constant sound of acorns falling and squirrels going crazy stockpiling them for the winter.

When I got back to the farm, my brother was all smiles, and by the look on his face, I knew the roadside stand had obviously produced for him. He went on to tell me he was covered up in deer all night and about 40 minutes before dark he got a shot at a mature doe about 20 yards away and hit the mark perfectly. The doe expired within sight of his stand. 

While he was waiting for the woods to calm down, he heard steps coming from the creek bottom behind him. He turned to see another mature doe walking right to his stand. At 9 yards, he took the shot and his second arrow hit its mark as well. The doe ran back into the creek and expired going up the opposite bank - two deer down in about 10 minutes. Not bad for a stand he didn't want to hunt!

The next morning I headed back to the oak ridge to try my luck again. The morning was extremely slow, except for the constant dropping of acorns. The squirrels had even vacated the ridge. Around 9:15, I stood up to stretch my legs, and to my surprise, saw two mature does walking up out of the creek bottom on my left. They fed on acorns right under my stand, and at 6 yards, finally gave me the shot angle I was waiting for.

The shot placement was perfect and the doe I hit ran around in about a 10-foot circle then dropped just 3 yards from my tree. The other doe had no idea what was happening and simply stood there watching the downed deer. I began to knock another arrow and try for the second doe, but the arrow slipped through my fingers, hit the stand and that was all the encouragement she needed to get out of there.

I regained my senses, knocked another arrow and began to replay the events that had just unfolded. That's when I caught motion on my left again. Two little bucks were coming up from the bottom on the same trail the does had just walked up. As I watched the first buck crest the ridge, I noticed antlers materializing behind the second one. I didn't even have time to think about it, this was the buck I had been hunting for 16 years! 

The big buck topped the ridge and went straight to eating acorns at 12 yards slightly quartering away. I drew back, picked my spot and released the arrow. It hit the mark. The buck took off running instantly but only made it about 20 yards before crashing to a stop, about 2 feet from tumbling down the steep embankment.

I couldn't believe what had just happened. Two deer down in under a minute and one of them was the buck I'd dreamt about my entire life. I could hardly contain my emotions, so I let out a holler that was probably heard in the next county.

My brother had been hunting several 100 yards away and heard all of the commotion. He was at my stand before I could get all of my gear down, and he could tell I was shook up. I told him about the events that just occurred and then pointed to the downed buck, not 40 yards from where we stood.

We walked up to the buck and stood in silence, just taking in the beautiful sight of the downed giant. We couldn't have written a better ending to the week if we had to. We had harvested four mature deer within a 15-hour timeframe with our bows. I had fulfilled a lifelong dream of harvesting a record book animal. And my best friend and hunting partner was there for all of it. It is a day I will never forget and my brother had the perfect closing statement for the trip, "It looks like the Double Jokers strike again."

Peter Eisentrager
Independence, Missouri

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By Big_Holla @ Thursday, March 20, 2008 11:58 AM
Great story! Taking the doe first lets us know you are in the woods for the meat too and not just the antlers. Great job!

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