Hell of a Season: Max tells the story of his whitetail success

On the 13th hunt of my whitetail season, I finally saw a buck worth shooting. It was October 20th and I was now on a steady streak of two a day hunts. I was leaving for New Zealand on the 23rd, so hell or high water I was hunting. It wasn’t by my choice…Harrison and Stuart were making me. Earlier that afternoon I had told Stuart that we shouldn’t hunt considering it was a gale outside. He said, “Nope we’re still hunting.”

Stuart choose the spot because he was the only one that wanted to be out there. It was a small grove at the intersection of a long drainage running through a corn field and a bean field. The idea was that the deer would use the trees for a bit of shelter. I sat against a walnut tree and listened to branches cracking around me. Twice I looked up nervous that a tree limb would end my life.   

Stuart was positioned fifteen yards behind me with a video camera. I had a couple of 20 to 30 yard shooting lanes and one that went out to fifty.

After a couple of hours of sitting and singing Wheeler Walker songs over and over in my head to pass the time I heard a splash. I knew immediately it was a deer, and it was directly downwind of me. I quickly stood up and scanned the area. I take a few scent control measures but no matter what I use to brush my teeth my breath always smells like Irish ass, and Stuart’s more commonly known as tuna breath.   

I couldn’t see the deer that splashed across the creek, but Stuart caught my eye. He was pointing behind me, and I could see in his face that it was going to be big.   

I turned around steadily and saw the first decent buck of the season. He was just beginning to walk across the longest of my shooting lanes. In a couple of steps he would be behind brush. This was my only chance for a shot. I had already ranged a 40 yard clump of grass a couple of yards closer than he was. I sent an arrow across the creek, and, although I wasn’t able to see where it landed, I heard the low thump of a lung shot. I turned to Stuart who was grinning and also motioning to me to stay quiet. We were surrounded by does and I was eager to fill my antlerless tag with another 35 yard shot, but Stuart urged me to let it go. We didn’t want to kick up the buck with the chaos a shot doe would cause. Eventually the does winded us and trotted away. We snuck back to the truck and began the wait.  

It was a brutal two hours of waiting.  We had both heard the low pitch of the arrows impact and seen the buck walk away. It didn’t quite add up for us. Why was he walking?

Two hours later our hunting duo grew to a 6 person search party. We located where the buck was standing, and, before I could begin to look for the arrow, Mark announced he had found a buck. The deer had walked less than 30 yards.

It was a hell of a whitetail season. Harrison and Stuart deserve credit for all the hunts they pushed me through. As the great musician Wheeler Walker would say that season was redneck shit.

I’m writing this as I fly to New Zealand where spring is beginning and the fresh grass edge will be pulling the red deer out onto the open tops.  I’ll let you know how the red deer spring hunt goes next month.  

hunt well,

Max

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