By Scott Semingson
I am 51 years old and have been deer hunting for the past 39 years. I have had many learning experiences in the Wisconsin woods while trying to harvest mature bucks. I am very fortunate to live in an area of Wisconsin where bucks have the genetics to become trophies.
On this particular hunt, I found that making too much noise was just enough noise to get the attention of a nice buck during the rut.
Like most early mornings, I was being very careful while entering my stand, located just above a standing cornfield. I set my stand earlier that fall on a well-used trail leading to a bedding area. I built the stand with metal brackets connected to a huge red oak tree and treated lumber for the deck.
The ladder was constructed using treated 2x4s. While placing it against the tree, I hooked one of the rungs over a branch. This kept the bottom of the ladder off the ground about 6 inches.
I made it to my stand making very little noise. I’d cleared the path weeks earlier to make the approach as quiet as possible. Everything was set. I connected my bow to a string to pull it up to my stand and began to climb the ladder.
About 10 feet into the climb, I found myself on my way back to the ground. The branch I had hooked the ladder on snapped, sending me falling backwards while still hanging onto the ladder.
I landed in a pile of brush with the ladder on me, and laid there for a few seconds wondering if I was OK. I didn’t feel any pain so I pushed the ladder off from me, stood up, lifted the ladder and leaned it against the tree.
My plan was to continue hunting, even though I had already made enough noise to scare every animal within earshot out of the woods.
As I was making my way back up the ladder, I noticed something was missing: my bow. After digging around in the brush and trying to spot it with my flashlight, I found nothing; the bow had disappeared.
The sun was beginning to rise. I stood for a while wondering where my bow had went. I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t be under the tree. It was beginning to get light enough where I could see without the flashlight, so I climbed up in the stand and looked around.
I found my bow 25 feet away in the branches of a downed tree. The only thing I could figure was that the string had tangled on the ladder as it was tipping over and was shot out like a slingshot when it released from the ladder. So down I went to retrieve my bow, snapping branches, pushing through brush and making a whole lot of noise.
I returned to the stand, thinking things couldn’t get worse, but they did. My bow’s rest had gotten bent during the fall. Needless to say, I had just about had it with this hunt. I proceeded to bend the rest back to where I thought it had been, knocked an arrow and shot it at a leaf on the ground. My archery gear was good to go.
All of this took place over a 45-minute time period. After all the crashing and banging in the brush, I thought I might as well bang some rattling horns together and do some grunting.
I don’t know how far away the buck was when my ordeal started, but he came running in with his ears back, looking for a fight. I believe he had never left the area, thinking the noise I’d been making was a couple of bucks fighting. Apparently, the rattling and grunting was too much for him to ignore. I arrowed the buck at about 20 yards.
This is a hunt I will remember for as long as I live, and will use the lesson learned to harvest bucks in the future.