For The Register-Herald
I’ve been spending as much time as I can deer hunting since the rut has kicked in. It’s been a chess match waiting for the deer to make the next move. Up until a couple weeks ago, the deer — even the bucks — have been more concerned with feeding in the fields due to the lack of mast in the woods.
My one stand located on a point overlooking a big field bottom has been the place to be. I’ve seen several deer every time I’ve hunted there but they have all been well out of bow range. From the time I climb in until it’s too dark to see, the deer have been feeding like cows in the field.
The bucks will nudge the occasional doe, but really haven’t been chasing after them. My plan has been to sit back and wait for the rut to kick in and a hot doe to bring the 10-point I’m after close enough for a shot. Last week, I thought for sure I was finally going to get that opportunity.
On the way to the farm I noticed the deer were moving and already in the fields during the mid-day. I hurried and made it to my stand around 3 p.m. but it took me awhile to climb in. There were five deer within 50 to 60 yards below the point so I had to really take my time. I made it and have no idea how those deer didn’t see me.
I settled in and continued to watch the deer below me. A couple of them were bedded down and they eventually got up and started feeding toward me. All of a sudden I looked down and another bigger bodied deer had stepped out. I raised the binoculars and it was him — the 10-point I’m after.
It was only 4 p.m. and I knew I had plenty of time before dark. By then I had a doe not 20 yards to my left and 2 more 35-40 yards to my right. The big buck was only 60 yards below, where the deer originally were when I climbed in.
They all were just feeding contently and, more importantly, were calm. The big buck would look up toward the does as they were between him and me. I thought for sure he would eventually work his way up the way the does did.
I kept my eye on the big buck the whole time, just waiting for him to make his move. It also gave me the chance to get a closer look at his impressive set of antlers. His left brow tine is long and bladed, and at the top has a small fork. There’s a small kicker point on his left g2, as well. I hadn’t been this close to this particular buck since I shot him last year.
I surprisingly remained fairly calm while I patiently waited with my bow in hand. A good half hour had passed without the deer moving much. Then, the inevitable happened. The doe to my left quickly jumped over the hill.
I looked to my right and the two does and big buck were glaring in my direction but kind of looking behind me. I froze and made sure not to move as I wondered what caught their attention. A couple of tense minutes went by before the deer couldn’t stand it any longer and took off.
Deer were running in every direction as the field cleared. There was a skiff of snow on so I could see them running for a long ways and they weren’t stopping. I turned my head to see what was behind me, immediately thinking it was either a bear or a coyote. To my surprise and amazement, nine gobblers walked right underneath my stand and down into the field bottom. All of them had at least 8- to 10-inch beards dangling from them. (Of course, I see them now instead of during spring gobbler season.)
All I could do was shake my head the rest of the evening and mutter a few choice words toward the intruding gobblers. I’m not sure why those deer were so spooked of turkeys, unless they just heard the noise and saw black and assumed they was bears. That’s all I can think of, but who knows?
I’m just going to keep hanging in there and hope for better luck. The silent woods of bow season are over, unless you’re hunting in one of the four bow hunting-only counties, and the guns will start cracking at daylight. Stay safe, have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the West Virginia outdoors this buck season.