By Everett Krause
-- What a bowhunting vacation I had been having in Ohio. I had taken 12 days off work to hunt the rut, which starts in early November. The early season up to this point had been great with lots of sightings, and I had passed on quite a few real nice bucks. I was waiting on "The Man."
My son, Kyle, had already connected with a nice 8-point buck and a doe. Those are good stories in themselves as he got to watch his buck run about 40 yards and then go down. There was another buck that was traveling with Kyle's buck that wasn't spooked at all and actually sniffed his downed buddy for a while before moving on.
Because Kyle was busy at school and work and had filled two of his tags, I was on my own. Everything was going absolutely great. The first hunt of my vacation was a Wednesday evening hunt. The weather forecast for the next day was high winds and rain. I thought it would be a good evening to tag a doe, (even though I usually do not do that when the rut is on). The weather the following day would give me time to process the doe myself and get the meat into the freezer.
I was sitting in the "Nipple" stand that evening and two does came by but they were not close enough for a shot. As they left, I grunted a couple times. A minute later I looked up and spotted another doe. The doe came in to get a drink and left in a hurry after my 125-grain Spitfire Broadhead exited the doe's body.
Kyle was away for the night so I called our good friend Zach Smoke, who I consider to be my other son, to see if he wanted to come out and help me track the doe. Zach is always on call for this and loves doing it as much as I do. He readily accepted. We found the doe pretty easily, and it gave it a cart ride out of the woods.
After Thursday's nasty weather passed, the next week was perfect. The weather was awesome and the action was smokin'. For those who don't bowhunt or hunt the rut and experience this, I'm not sure they actually believe the stories we've all told about bucks chasing does with their tongues hanging out from exhaustion. A few times I'll laugh at the bucks and say, "Buy her a bottle of wine and some flowers. Maybe then she'll give in!" I got to experience this a few times that magical week, but no real shooters. I only spotted some 2 1/2-year-old bucks. With only one buck tag in Ohio, you have to be choosey if you want Bullwinkle.
Most of the corn was still up on my farm, which is both good and bad. I was wishing they would harvest it. On the morning of Nov. 10, 2004, I hunted the "Big Treestand," which is about 60 yards from a giant cornfield and 40 yards from the "Graveyard" cornfield. The Graveyard got its name due to it being the last stop for numerous deer before "Old Blue," the Ford F-150 deer hearse hauled them out of there. The Graveyard corn had been taken down earlier, which helped a little.
That morning at 9 a.m., I heard a ruckus down in the woods and a basket-rack 9-pointer came tearing toward me and stopped 10 yards from my stand. Then the buck cut across the Graveyard and was gone.
Something had run the buck out of there. After the buck left, I grunted a few times and then rattled with no success. I left about 11:30 a.m. then returned to the big tree at 12:30 p.m. and settled in for the afternoon. The weather was perfect for this stand - 50 degrees with a slight wind from the southeast. I spotted a few deer down in the woods a couple of times but couldn't really get a good look at them.
At 3:50 p.m., a nice 120-class 8-point buck came in and was feeding 17 yards from my stand. This buck was not quite was I was looking for. It left a few minutes later. Then I heard a sound that brought a smile to my face - it wasn't a deer, but a combine! They were starting to take the corn off the giant cornfield. I immediately had a very good feeling.
I looked down in the woods around 4:45 and a deer was headed in my direction. It was about 15 yards inside the woods from the cornfield. At first I thought it was a doe. Then I got a good look at "HIM." The show was definitely on. Even though the combine had made a of couple passes around the perimeter of the field, I had the ugly feeling that is where the buck wanted to go - into the corn.
The buck stopped and took a few steps toward the corn and I grunted a couple of times. He heard my calls and looked my way, but still wanted to hit the corn. Luckily, the combine was on its way back down the field toward us. Although it was on the other side of the field, the buck wasn't too sure about it. It continued to walk along the edge about 15 yards in. Eventually, it was only 55 yards away, but I still knew the buck wanted to go into the corn. The deer took a few steps in that direction, and I grunted again. It stopped, and I think it actually thought about coming over for a second, but turned to go toward the corn.
I hung my bow up and grabbed my antlers to see if I could rattle it in. Just as I did that the combine started up our side of the field. The buck backed away 10 more yards from the field, and we both watched it go by. That's all of that the buck needed because it turned around and headed directly toward me. I thought the buck was going to walk right under my tree. By now I had my bow up and was ready for a shot. The buck was coming. Then bad news - it stopped and looked directly at me. I stood there motionless trying to avoid eye contact.
I knew the buck was 30 yards away thanks to my yardage marker on the tree beside it. The buck took a 90-degree right turn and started casually walking away. When the buck hit an opening, I grunted in hopes it would stop. One more grunt did it. He stopped and I took the 30-yard shot. The buck made a small jump, trotted for about 15 yards and started walking again. I watched the deer walk below some trees about 70 yards away and then out of sight. Well, after I tried to settle myself down, I sat there and replayed it again and again. Was it a good hit? I honestly didn't know.
After it got dark about a half hour later, I got down, snuck over and put my flashlight on the arrow sticking out of the ground. It looked good. I left it there and snuck out. I drove home as my body cranked with adrenalin. When I got there, my wife asked me to help her with a math problem she was working on from one of her college classes. All I could say was, "I just shot the man!" I was not any help to her at all.
Kyle was sick so he couldn't go. Zach did not pick up his phone. So, I waited 3 hours (twice the time we normally wait) and started tracking the buck. The trail was very spotty, and I soon got an awful feeling that the hit was not good. After walking about 80 yards, I stopped to regroup and look for the next spot. As I shined the light in front of me, I saw the buck lying there on its side. I couldn't believe my eyes. After a quick prayer of thanks, I got on the phone and called home. Another good buddy of mine, Bruce Hartley, and his son, Travis, came over and drug him to the cornfield.
The landowner was just calling it quits for the night and offered to haul the buck out on a front end loader. We loaded the buck onto it and off to the truck we went. I opened the tailgate on Old Blue, the farmer lifted up the loader, and we slid the buck into the truck bed.
I told the landowner the story and he said the buck must have been afraid of the
"Big Red Monster" - referring to the combine!
Later that night, I hit the hot tub. It was 12:10 a.m. and as I sat there with a cold celebration beverage looking up into the starlit night, I began to wind down, relax and replay the events. I had just harvested my personal best buck. It wasn't as simple as the buck walking up and offering me the perfect shot. I got to watch the buck for a while. At one point, I thought I was not going to get a shot.
Plus, I always seem to have Kyle or Zach helping me track the deer. This night neither one of them were available. It was like it was meant to be just me, alone to find the buck. I do love the company of these guys when we track deer, and we always have a lot of fun. In a weird way being alone on that night made it a personal moment that I'll always remember.
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