Hey there, welcome to another Whitetail Weekly.
The theme around my house, and most of the state, lately has been rain. Rain, rain and then some more rain really. My backyard is underwater so I can only imagine what much of our woods, that flood every spring regardless of how much rain we get, are looking like right now.
Between the crazy weather, the 4 dollar a gallon (and rising) gas prices and the holiday going up north wasn’t in the cards last week. I will not let gas prices totally keep me from going north, but when you combine the cost with the bad weather it wasn’t a good weekend to make a trip.
We definitely have some projects to get started on, as well as some cards to pull and camera’s to move so I will be heading up soon for sure. We are excited to get our first trail cam pictures of the year and can’t wait to see if we picked good spots for the cameras. Maybe we’ll get lucky and catch a picture of a few bucks starting to show their 2011 headgear.
Since I didn’t head north over the weekend I had to come up with a topic for this week’s entry. I was thinking back on some good hunts that I have had in the past and many of them have already been covered in past entries. As I looked through some pictures on my computer I came across a picture of my brother with his first deer.
It was Thanksgiving Day in 2008 and, like most other Thanksgiving Days over the last 15 or so years of my life, I was up hunting with family. The holiday weekend is our traditional gun camp and this year my dad, my uncle, my brother and myself were all in camp together. Hunting is very much a family affair for me so any time I can share camp with my dad and brother, as well as my uncle who is like a dad to me, it is going to be a good time.
My brother likes to hunt but isn’t as into it as my dad and I are. In 2008 he was a busy high school kid playing varsity football and holding down an active social life. Much like myself back in high school, hunting was a fun activity but it wasn’t at the top of his priority list by any means. He had hunted over the past few years but had never taken a deer.
Traditionally we do our Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s house which is only a short drive away from the property our camp is on. Usually my uncle will head home the night before Thanksgiving and start cooking in the morning while the rest of us spend the morning hunting before heading to his house to watch football and eat dinner.
In 2008 we stuck to our traditional patterns and after dinner I got ready to head back to the cabin and go out for an evening sit. Often times I am the only one who does so as the others fall asleep in front of the TV or just hang out and return to camp later. This year my brother said he would go with me so off we went. We got to camp and quickly changed and headed out to get a few hours of hunting in before dark.
On the property there is a 5 or 6 acre field that is planted in a mix of corn and winter wheat/brassicas etc and left standing all season. The field is close to the cabin and since we were running a bit late my brother and I decided to sit in stands surrounding the field and hope for the best. The area is always heavy with tracks and activity and usually you will at least catch a few deer sneaking into, or out of, the field.
At the northwest corner of the field the trail splits, I decided to go south and head to a ladder stand in the woods off the southwest corner of the field. My brother continued on to the east and headed to a ground blind that was right on the northeast corner of the field.
As I climbed up and got settled in I could actually see the orange of my brother’s coat through the trees if I craned my neck just right. I got settled in and ready for what would be a short, but hopefully exciting, hunt.
We only had about 2 hours or so till dark and about an hour or so after settling in I caught movement off in front of me to my right. There is a clump of cedars around a small beaver pond and a small doe had popped out and was headed for the corn field. I didn’t have a doe permit so I didn’t even reach for my gun; instead I just enjoyed the show and was happy to know I would not be skunked this evening. The deer made its way into the field and quickly disappeared amongst the cornstalks.
Every hunter knows the time of day that I call “the golden hour”, that time during the evening when the world just seems to get quiet and slow down. The woods, which were full of birds and scuffling squirrels all day, suddenly quiet down and become still. The sun rests just on the horizon, taking its final bow for the day before heading off stage. It’s the time when you just know there is a deer about to appear and all is right with the world.
Well it was just getting to be that time when I caught a glimpse of some hunters orange on the move in the distance. I grabbed the binoculars and was able to tell that my brother had left his ground blind to answer nature’s call. After a minute he was back in the blind and I muttered under my breath something about what kind of a dodo would get up at this time to take a leak.
A short while later I caught a glimpse of hunters orange and realized my brother was on the move once again. It was probably 25 minutes before dark and I couldn’t believe it. It’s not unusual for him to get out a bit early and head in but this was prime time.
I watched him through the binoculars for a minute but lost him behind a tree. I assumed he was heading in and went back to my hunt, as well as some more under my breath muttering about dodo’s that walk around during prime time.
Suddenly the silence of the night was broken by the sharp crack of my uncles .44 caliber rifle that my brother was carrying. Caught totally off guard by the relatively close shot I imagine I just about jumped out of my skin. After re-grouping for a second I called my brother on the radio and made sure things were ok, since I thought he was walking in at the time.
It turned out that he had seen a deer come from the north and go into the field but couldn’t get a shot off at it before it disappeared amongst the corn. When I saw him moving the second time he was getting out of the blind and had put a stalk on the deer. The field has some small rolling hills in it and he was able to use one of the hills in his favor and get to about 50yds before taking the shot.
As I made my way through the dying light to where my brother was waiting I was pretty excited. I was hoping that the deer had indeed dropped like he thought it had and we would quickly be standing over my brothers first ever whitetail. As I reached my brother I had him direct me to where the deer was standing when he shot it. His shot had been right on the money and the deer was right where he thought it was.
When I saw the deer I could tell right away it was a button buck and while I was definitely excited for my brother, I had to give him some grief too. I mean, what are big brothers for right? After the congratulations, and some good natured ribbing we headed up to the cabin to grab a truck as well as my dad and uncle. There were many more congratulations for him, and some more ribbing as well, but it was a great time for everyone. It’s always fun when someone in camp puts a deer on the ground but when it’s the hunters first deer, and the hunter is your little brother, it is that much more memorable.
As we all stood in the trail and talked I couldn’t help but think how good this field had been to us as a family.
One of my most memorable hunting moments is walking down this same trail with my dad years ago after shooting a doe. We had already found the deer and were walking up to the cabin to get the truck. Just the feeling of walking down the trail shoulder to shoulder with my dad knowing that he was proud of me was something I’ll never forget. Then, a few years after that, my dad and I were sharing an evening hunt on the edge of this field when he shot his best buck ever.
Now the excitement of my brother taking his first deer, a event that will be one of my brother’s biggest hunting memories, was playing out right there on the edge of that very same field.
I didn’t notice it when I took the picture, but there is a lot of family history blowing in those cornstalks behind my brother’s big smile.
Hey, check back in next week for my review of the Vanguard PRO B62 Bi-pod shooting stick. I’m gonna put it through its paces this weekend and let you know what I find. If you are in the market for a set of quality shooting sticks you’ll want to check it out.
Take care, and thanks for reading!!!!