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Rut Crazy Bucks

McNamaraBy Joe McNamara

-- It was one of those perfect brisk November evenings in the deer woods. On this day, the autumn woods were full of deer activity. The bucks sure seemed to be at the peak of their rut. As always, I was perched high in my stand and waiting for that dream buck to come along. I was pumped and ready for some action.

But this time something was different. You first have to understand that this large section of woods has not been hunted for over 40 years. It was just released for archery hunts only and at the peak of the rut. Are you with me now? Okay then, let's go hunting!

It was about an hour before sunset when I spotted a group of does headed in my direction. The lead doe must have picked up my scent because the group started to circle around me. Shortly after, I could hear what seemed to be a deer running through the woods to my left. The only problem was I couldn't see anything. All of the sudden the noise stopped. That's when a huge 8-point buck stepped out to my right. 

The buck was locked onto something. I believe it spotted the doe group that circled around me. The deer stood still, a good 80 yards out and not looking in my direction. I quickly pulled out the grunt tube and tried to work my magic. The buck was not interested. I could see that it was more focused on something else. 

Well, minutes later I started hearing activity to my left again. It couldn't be "Big Boy" because he just went off to my right. Suddenly, another 8-point buck appeared. It wasn't as big as the first buck I saw, but it was every bit as nice.

As before, I pulled out my grunt tube. Again, no reaction! Then I pulled out the rattle bag and gave it a light roll or two. Nothing! Then I thought last chance and went for the doe in heat can-call. The buck turned its head in my direction as soon as I started calling. Shortly after, a doe appeared from a trail to my left.         

The doe had several other deer following it.  There were several bucks following the does including a nice 6-pointer. I think any hunter would have loved to harvest it. The buck I wanted was still standing 80 yards out. Finally, the buck turned and started walking to my left. The green briers were just too thick, so I lost sight of him. I really started getting rattled now. However, I had a feeling that the chase was not over. He would be coming for his does and passing directly by my stand as the others did.
It didn't take long before I heard something coming. It sounded like it was busting and cracking through some pretty thick brush. Then finally he appeared. He came out of the same path as the does. I made sure everything was perfect. I tried to remember quickly everything I needed to do to make this happen. Three more steps and he would be in my shooting lane, standing perfectly broadside. 

After the arrow left my bow, I could see that all of the hard work and practice paid off. It was all those afternoons shooting 40- and 50-yard shots. I could hear what sounded like the deer crashing in the brush. I didn't want to take any chances. I waited for half an hour before climbing down the treestand. Then I gathered my things and slipped out of the area for a few hours. Later, we returned to follow the trail and found my buck of a lifetime no more the 80 yards from my treestand. 

My hunting partners, Scott and Jeremy, both gave hugs and high-fives. They were just as happy to see my dreams come true as if it was their own. Buddy, that's what hunting is all about.  

Joe McNamara
Thurmont, Maryland

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