By Liam J. Lytle
I am what you would call a very dedicated whitetail hunter. I started hunting on public land with my father when I was a boy. Dad taught me to be ethical, and that all deer are trophies. Hunting pressure in Connecticut is high, and we always considered ourselves very lucky to get an opportunity to take a mature buck.
A long time has gone by since I first stepped into the woods with my dad. I still use his guidance and ethics when I’m in the woods I still hear Dad telling me to be still, scan your surroundings and make a good shot.
During a recent bow season I started to pattern a nice buck on public land. I chose not to pursue it until the Connecticut shotgun season opened. I was really excited. My wife and I just had a wonderful baby boy, and I had the chance to hunt when my wife had a few days off from work. I would be using a Savage bolt-action shotgun I had just purchased and found to be accurate to 120 yards.
On opening day, I was in the woods hoping to get a glimpse of the buck I had patterned. The winds were light but variable, not the best. After about 40 minutes in the stand, I began having concerns about the shifting wind. Around this same time, the birds I had been watching began acting nervous.
I was on full alert to find out what had spooked them. All of a sudden, a buck – my buck – blew from thick cover near my stand. Standing motionless and very well hidden, he blew three more times before deciding to make a quiet retreat. After about an hour, I did the same.
Leaving the area alone until the wind was perfect was challenging. I began thinking I’d blown my chance for the season.
A major cold front was predicted to come through the area on the third day of the season. The wind was going to be ideal.
Torrential rain pounded the early-morning darkness while I gathered my gear. The temperature was about 40 degrees and dropping fast. The northeast wind was blowing 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50. At least it was blowing the right way!
I had only been in the stand for about half an hour, but it felt a lot longer with the rain, wind and plunging temperatures. I had to keep blinking so my vision would remain clear. The conditions were challenging, but I knew the deer would be moving with a front like this one.
The buck appeared about 40 yards from where I had expected to see him, walking fast. I never heard him in the gusting wind. I readied my gun, chose my shooting lane and made the shot. The buck bounded four times and then came to rest.
Walking up to the buck, I thought, “What a beautiful 8-pointer!” I tagged the buck and took it to the check station.
I will always be thankful for the lessons my dad taught me. I will always try to be the best hunter I can be, being ethical, putting my time in and by making a good shot.
Thanks for everything Dad!