By Mac Moad
-- The first week of October 2007 was a long time coming.
I spent the first three days in my favorite stand, watching a trio of raccoons I’d nicknamed Larry, Curly and Moe, even though one was a she-coon. The mother was slightly bigger and more alert than the two young ones.
The temperature in eastern Oklahoma was still in the 80s, and mosquitoes were buzzing everywhere. It was almost too hot to hunt, and I often questioned my sanity. But at least I was seeing a few does every morning and evening.
Ours is one of three families (all related) living on the mountain. Together, we own about 360 acres. Each year we hunt, we always establish the rules: Eight or more points for the husbands and any legal buck or doe for the wives and kids.
I hunted hard in 2006 without harvesting one deer. But I saw enough antlers to keep me excited. Yet my brothers-in-law, Bill and Grover, never missed an opportunity to remind me that I “got spanked.”
Both guys are avid rifle hunters. Both attached their tags to whitetails.
I was thinking about my bum ’06 season while 18 feet up in my climber. I wondered if it would be any different in 2007.
While looking down at the Three Stooges again on the fourth morning of the season, I realized how much I enjoyed watching them. Being out there with all the wildlife was a treat, and the highlight of each day might be Larry, Curly and Moe, or it could be an owl landing on a nearby limb or a squirrel sitting on my boot. We also have quail, coyotes, bobcats and turkeys.
What was going to be the highlight that day, I wondered.
The answer came sooner than I expected. Almost immediately, I saw movement directly in front of me. It was a deer.
I had placed my stand in what my wife calls the quiet spot: high cedars with no brush, not too thick, but perfect for a good bow shot. A well used doe trail was to my right, and another trail came in from the left. I could see about 40 yards around me with a creek bed behind me on a gentle downhill slope.
The deer in front of me wasn’t spooked or aware of my presence as it slowly made its way directly toward me. Sun to my back and the breeze in my face, finally, I could see him completely.
“Very nice buck,” I thought.
As it moved closer and closer, I counted four points on each side. Not sure if I wanted to take the shot just yet, I moved into position, just in case. Standing now and ready to draw, I used the bow as if I was hiding behind its small limbs.
The buck was much bigger than I originally thought. It eventually stopped less than 10 yards away, head concealed by a large cedar tree. I drew and picked my shooting lane. And the deer obliged. I took a deep breath, let it out halfway, became steady as a rock and released.
As I’d intended, the arrow clipped spine, heart and lung, and the buck dropped in its tracks. I stood for a moment and watched the unmoving buck. Larry, Curly and Moe were nowhere to be seen.
I called my wife and whispered that I had taken a good buck.
“Why are we whispering?” she asked.
Laughing, I said, “I am in the quiet spot.”
After checking the buck in and taking it to the processor, I went back out for an evening hunt in another stand.
Three days later, on Oct. 7, my 14-year-old son was ready for action. He’d been practicing every day for two months for his first bow season.
Everything seemed to go wrong, at first. I discovered he was afraid of heights – the hard way – so I helped him into a fixed-position stand accessible by tree steps. While he was pulling up his bow, the string slipped and it came crashing down on my hand.
Although it was painful, I hid the hurt, wished him luck and headed off to my own spot about 100 yards across the creek. Climbing with one good hand wasn’t too difficult. I drew my bow when aloft, just to make sure I could do it. I got it back, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it again.
Forty-five minutes later, three bucks showed – a forkhorn, small 8-pointer and a larger 4x4. (Actually, a fourth was coming in, but I didn’t realize it at the time). I shot the third-in-line 8-pointer.
I was amazed: Two 8-point bucks with my bow in the same week, and both hadn’t taken a single step after the shot. And my hand didn’t hurt anymore.
Soon afterward, I got down and walked to Chase’s stand. He’d seen the other two bucks running after I’d shot.
As we drove the four-wheeler into the yard, my father stepped out on the deck. He’d just arrived for a week’s visit.
He and my wife were excited, not so much over that particular buck, but because I’d tagged out in the first week of bow season. She enjoyed ribbing her brothers about it.
The next morning, as I watched my brothers-in-law roll out to the woods to hunt, I told them the same thing I’ve always said: “Good luck … I hope you get a big one!”