Deer Hunting 2017, Part 3

This is the buck I was waiting for in a photo taken by the game camera nearest to the ladder stand.


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In this post I am reminded why it is called hunting.


I’ve had a pretty good time this deer season.  While bow hunting I saw deer almost every time I went out, but nothing I was too serious about shooting and not much within range anyway.

Opening weekend of the bow season, I had made my way to my pop-up blind on the bottom ground.  The ripe soybeans were on the low end of palatability but the hill ground was bare so the bottom ground was the better option.

The five gallon bucket I sat on hadn’t gotten any more comfortable since the previous season but, by moving frequently I was able to find a tolerable level of discomfort.

In the gray light of predawn I looked to my right at one of the lighter areas, the field road going south to the corner of the field.

What’s that?  A dark shape ghosted silently across the road from the beans to the ditch.

The bobcat!  It was the first time I had seen our resident wild cat in person.



As wheat sprouted on the hill ground, I started making the trek to the ladder stand.  The first morning I climbed in it I got there about an hour earlier than I needed to and spent the extra time admiring the bright, star-filled sky and tracing the path of a passenger jet as it moved silently toward Memphis.  It would have taken all the money in their combined bank accounts to convince me to trade places with them at that moment.

I was just starting to see shadows cast by the sun peeking above the horizon behind me, when I looked down and in front of me, through the camo skirt around the stand.  I could see down into the gulley I had used to access the stand.

A lithe form was moving silently up the waterway.  I was watching the bobcat for the second time.


She disappeared into the woods.


After what seemed like hours but was less than half of one, a dark form materialized in the wheat field.

Deer!  Then another, and another.  Before long there were seven of the brown beauties out there grazing away on our cash crop.

I know I should be more concerned about the bottom line, about the money those deer were taking out of our pockets, but it’s tough to hold them accountable for doing what they do naturally.  It does make it a bit more justifiable to put a deer or two in the freezer though.


I’ve been watching a few bucks on my game cameras that I’d like to get a chance at, but my standards are less strict for bow season than for rifle or black powder seasons.  Bow range, for my crossbow, is about forty yards, whereas range for my muzzle loader is 100 to 200.  For my rifle it’s as much as 400.  Where I hunt, shots over 100 yards are rare.  Right offhand I can’t remember shooting a deer on our place at more than 100 yards.  Basically, if I can see it I can shoot it.

But as I said, 40 yards is my limit with the crossbow, so, when a nice-size forkhorn came out of the woods and moved to the sweetgum tree in the middle of the field, I thought I’d try for him.

I slowly raised the bow so as not to catch his attention and got a rest on the edge of the stand.  Sighting carefully I eased off the safety and squeezed the trigger.

Thunk!  Smack!  An explosion of sand and dust verified exactly what I had done at the same time I realized it.  Once again I had used the top of the three sight-dots on my crossbow.

In the case of sight dots on a bow, higher means lower.  Knowing it was a long shot I had known I needed to shoot higher.  Unfortunately, the higher sight points the bolt (arrow) lower.  The bolt had smacked into the earth at the deer’s feet.

I watched the buck run out of the clearing, blowing as he went.  I waited a while to give him time to get far enough away that I wouldn’t add to his fear, and climbed down.  The distance from my stand to the bolt was closer to 45 yards than 40, and I had been using the 20 yard dot.  I had earned an embarrassing miss, but at least it was a clean one.


It worked out OK though as my care not to frighten the buck paid off when he returned to the clearing on opening morning of the rifle season and Patrick took him with a single shot at around 75 yards with his 30.06.  My son has a good record going with his deer rifle.  He has taken two shots at deer and killed both instantly.

With brow tines the buck turned out to be a six pointer rather than the forkhorn he looked like to me.


I finished out the first portion of bow season seeing a lot of deer.  As I said earlier, though, none that I wanted to shoot at got close enough.


The second day of rifle season found me sitting in the hill-ground ladder stand that Patrick had taken his deer from the morning before.  Since Eddie had harvested the beans on the bottom ground the day before gun season, there wasn’t much of an option on our farm.  With the blood from my son’s deer potentially tainting the site I didn’t really hold out a lot of hope, but the ladder stand still seemed like the best place for me to sit.


The sky began to gray as the sun rose and I caught sight of movement.

A buck!  MY BUCK!

Sure enough, the eight pointer I had been hoping to get a chance at moved silently across the west end of the clearing.  I raised the rifle and put the crosshairs on his shoulder as I released the safety.  He stopped and I eased back on the trigger.

“Clunk,” but no “boom!”  The buck’s head snapped up and he looked directly at me.

What the…!  The rifle had never misfired before.  Never!

I didn’t have time to worry about the why at that moment.  I had to do what I could to get another chance.  Moving slowly but steadily, I pulled the bolt back while trying to catch the ejected round.  When it didn’t fall out into my hand, I eased the bolt forward, thinking I must not have chambered a round in the first place.  Unfortunately, I had.  Another round tried to feed into the chamber which was already occupied.  It didn’t work.  Now I had TWO rounds to worry about in a jammed rifle.

I was doing all this by feel and watching the buck at the same time.  It was obvious that he didn’t know what was happening, but it was equally obvious that he wasn’t comfortable at the moment.  I eased the bolt all the way back and one of the shells dropped out into my gloved hand, slid through, and “tink”ed when it hit the deer stand on its way to the ground below.

The pretty eight pointer had stayed around as long as he wanted and turned to leave.  He didn’t raise his tail and didn’t snort or blow.  Nor did he run, but he did move quickly into the woods and out of this narrative.

Clearing the blocked chamber I pocketed the offending cartridge to be examined later and loaded another.  Below the stand I could see the other round glimmering on the ground.  I frowned.

“Well,” I thought.  “That’s why they call it hunting, and not gathering.”


That’s where I’ll end this installment of Deer Hunting 2017.  Hopefully I’ll have something a little less embarrassing to tell you in a future post.  Wish me luck!



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(above) This is a little clip I put together from video I have captured so far this season.  No animals were harmed in the making of this video, dang it.

(below) Here is another picture of the buck I had a chance at.  We’ve gotten photos of others that would also be acceptable to me too.

4 Comments on "Deer Hunting 2017, Part 3"

  1. Great video and photo,

  2. Maybe next time but at least you saw him again!

    • I hope so. I’ve been so busy I have only been out once since I posted this but I’m going to keep trying. Yes, he’s a pretty one.

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