By Rich Miller
I am now headed back through Nashville on my way home from my Kansas bow hunt. Every year there is always a great debate with they guys I hunt with (and a lot of other guys around the country) about the best dates to head out west to hunt. We try not to hit the wild chasing rut, but to catch all of the pre-rut activity when the bucks are on there feet during daylight hours. You want to get the timing all of that set, and then you want the weather to be perfect, also. That all being said, I have figured it out: if any of you want to know when to plan your hunt for the upcoming year, just ask me when I am going and go the week before or the week after and you should hit it perfectly!
The first morning of the hunt was the best, weather-wise, of the whole trip. The temperature was 34º F and not much wind at all until later in the morning. I saw three does and several little bucks but never the big buck we had on camera. Saturday afternoon and Sunday were about the same; all the does I saw were scared to death and trying to stay hidden and there were a bunch of little bucks running around like crazy. The bad part was, the weather had turned hot and the wind got up and was blowing between 30 and 40 mph. Tuesday morning, the forecast wasn’t going to be any different – hot and windy was the forecast – but those were the days we had so we had to be in a tree.
The two previous mornings, I didn’t see any deer until later in the morning, and with that being the case, I had planned to sit all day (plus, it was Nov. 9th, and that is my favorite day of the year to be in the woods). When nine o’clock rolled around I had only seen one deer but between nine and ten I rattled in seven more little bucks. Every time I touched my horns together or hit the grunt call, it seemed like a little buck would came running in. At ten o’clock, I rattled for the last time and when I looked to the south of my stand I spotted a giant deer fifty yards from me and getting closer. As he was standing there trying to figure out where the fight was, I grunted at him and he twitched his tail, dropped his head and headed in my direction. The wind was in my favor, and he was going to have to offer me a good shot to get down wind of me. As he came around behind my stand, he gave me a slightly quartering away 24-yard shot. I settled my pin and released my arrow, but when the arrow struck him slightly back of where I had aimed, I was disappointed. I don’t know if it was nerves, the wind, or just plain old buck fever but I hit him about five inches back. When the deer ran off, I could see the signs of a good hit and that did make me feel a little better. I slipped out of the stand as quietly as possible and headed back to my truck to get some help.
After a couple of hours, we were back and picked up the blood trail. It was as good of a trail as a hunter would have wanted to find. After an easy one hundred yards of tracking, the deer lay down twice and when he got up from there we couldn’t find anything after that. We looked the rest of the afternoon and never found anything else. After a sleepless night, I went back to the same stand the next morning to listen for coyotes and crows to see if they would help me find him. There was a large CRP field to the north the way the deer was headed and I thought that was where he would be.
When the crows left their roost that morning I noticed that they stayed in a pasture to the north and east of me all morning. Also, I saw two coyotes that morning that went toward the same pasture. At ten o’clock, I climbed down and drove around to the top of that pasture and watch for the crows and see where they were. After seeing a few flying around the same area, I decided to walk down there and check it out. About halfway to them, I jumped a coyote and then I spotted about five more crows on the ground. After a few more steps, I spotted the side of a rack sticking up. I swear I ran the fifty yards so fast to that deer that NFL scouts would have been after me if they had seen me! The bad part was we were within a hundred yards of the sucker the day before, but there was a little pond there where he was laying and we just didn’t see him. The coyotes and crows had destroyed him already in just one night, but I guess I was lucky to find him either way.
Most deer get smaller after you shoot them, but this buck was bigger than I originally thought he was. I am sure he is my biggest buck to date and he is the third nice buck I have killed on Nov. 9th. So any of you guys wanting to plan a trip next year you can be assured I will be there the week of the 9th!