CNYScott

Buck Rattled In Rain

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I've been deer hunting for 12 years.  In that time I've learned plenty - patience, deer patterns, deer habits, cover, scent control, wind, sign, but perhaps more than anything - time in the saddle counts so hunt when others won't.

Third day of 2010 Southern Zone was miserable - 35 degrees, wind, hard rain.  When the alarm went off at 4:30 I thought seriously about two more hours of rack time and going to work.  I had already planned for the day off so I dragged myself out of bed. 

It didn't help that both my buddies had to work and another guy that hunts with us bagged a monster 8-pt. the day before, probably the best deer in the area.  But off I went, alone, in the dark and rain. 

I was on stand ready to go by 6:15 a.m.  Rain was heavy and made me appreciate the investment in my Cabela's 7-in-1 Gore Tex gear. 

I saw four bucks between 8:30 and 10:00 - two four-points, a spike and a six I could have jumped on for a ride he was so close.  Confidence boosters that my movement was low, scent was masked.  No shooters yet. 

Twice it got so windy I came down out of my ladder stand - the tree was swaying something fierce. 

Quick lunch under a poncho and back on stand for the afternoon.

By 3:00 p.m. I was seriously questioning my sanity.  I was still dry but that chill from not moving was beginning to set in.  I steeled myself and convinced myself I could survive another 90 minutes until dark.  Out of sheer boredom I took out my rattling bag - a skill that I was unconvinced I had just yet as it had never worked. 

I rattled on and off for about 90 seconds and tucked the bag back in my ruck, convinced that my technique still needed work.  THEN...only about 1-2 minutes later I heard this odd sound over my left shoulder at the 8 o'clock position.  I carefully turned my head and could not be believe my eyes. 

A nice buck was snorting and wheezing in my direction, stomping a hoof.  I could tell he couldn't see me in my stand, but he had focused on the antler rattle and was looking in my direction for a fight.  He was the nicest buck I had seen in my 12 years of hunting and I was determined, after nearly 9 hours of solo hunting on stand in crap weather, to bring him home.

I carefully picked up my Winchester Model 70 in .270, aimed, exhaled and held my breath and squeezed the trigger.  I knew I made a true shot and strangely enough I was stone cold during the shot - no buck fever at all (a first for me).

He jumped straight up and took off like a shot off my property, across a border road and onto the adjacent property.  As I had lost a similar wounded buck opening day in the pouring rain two years prior I did not wait.  I lowered my rifle to the ground, scrambled down the ladder and bolted towards the road thinking that would be the easiest place to pick up a blood trail. 

My heart sunk when I didn't see a drop of blood.  I knew I hit him, but could find no proof. 

I immediately set off onto the adjacent land which was slight uphill grassy fields broken up by small hedge rows.  It was tall enough to hide a downed deer, so I started a rapid criss-cross pattern, rifle at the ready.  I normally would never have pushed an animal so hard so soon but I was by myself in the pouring rain and time was not my ally this day. 

As I broke through the first hedge I began to get that sinking feeling - beginning to psyche myself out that I had lost a second wounded buck in bad weather.  Just as I about to mumble some bad words to myself I saw an unnatural white patch up ahead and to the left.  I broke into a sprint.

Sure enough I saw the belly of a deer, and to my overwhelming joy, a rack of antlers.  It wasn't moving, I approached carefully, gave it a nudge - dead as a rock.  Adrenaline surged from head to toe.  I let out a victory scream.  I called my wife and yammered on about the entire ordeal like a nervous school girl.

I marveled at the beast for about five minutes before I could collect myself to begin the task that needed doing.  I field dressed him, cleaned myself up and called my hunting buddies who were very happy for me. I dragged him down to the road, about 100 yards, and retrieved my gear and my truck. 

It was starting to get dark and realized I didn't have a good plan to get him onto the hitch platform on the back of my Chevy Tahoe.  I could get one end of him up but could not get enough of him of to stay on while I got the rest, and all I could think of was snapping the rack off on the road when he fell as I tried to get him up there. 

I called my Dad, he could be there in about 45 minutes to help.  The road is remote so waiting for someone willing/capable of helping was not a great plan.  Just as I was about to ask my Dad to head my way a car approached - it was my buddy who had bagged the 8-pt. the previous day returning from work. 

The two of us easily got him up there.  He was not a monster, but a big-bodied buck whose neck suggested active rut. 

I took him to Marsh Mill Ranch for butchering, and to North Shore Taxidermy for mounting.  He's more tasty than trophy, but I felt I truly earned him and that warranted mounting him.  He has provided many a fine meal for me, family and friends, and this mount hangs in my office as a reminder that persistence pays off. 

Here are pictures of him on trail cam in September 2010; after harvesting; mounted on the back platform behind my full sized Chevy Tahoe; and the mount that I got back in early June 2011. 

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Leave a legacy - teach a kid to shoot or hunt. 

NRA Life Member

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One more note -- I have used this hunting story as a lesson for my twin boys (age 9) and their Cub Scout buddies to do several things - 1) Make a point about persistence and sticking to a task no matter how tough; 2) Hunting is an adventure; 3) Being properly prepared; and 4) the end result of hunting pays dividends.  To that end I have introduced Pack 244 to the pleasures of properly prepared venison.  Many of the boys now ask if I'm bringing venison on our camping trips, and If they ask I will provide. 

Below is a picture of our Pack at Highland Forest in May 2011, and I'm taking steaks from this deer off the grill for the boys.  I thought I defrosted too many - about 20 small/mid-sized steaks.  Couldn't have been more wrong.  The boys scarfed them down, leaving very little for the adults, and were asking for more. 

If we want more hunters, getting them hooked on venison early is a good way to do it!

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Leave a legacy - teach a kid to shoot or hunt. 

NRA Life Member

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A very nice story.  To share with future youth hunters (possibly) is terrific.  More of this needs to be done. Looking back at all the nice bucks my two sons and I  have harvested, it was all in inclement weather conditions. Some people say you need alot of hunters out to push the deer around, we think just the reverse with several on the wall to prove it.  With rain and wind, you can throw most of the other tracking methods out the window.  The risks are greater to lose an animal in the rain, but the rewards can often pay off.  There's nothing like that  special  feeling, more  unique, in not so ideal conditions.

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I'm a convert to bad weather hunting.  I've always had better luck in rain, wind and snow.  I'm not a big fan of the "others pushing deer" method as I think it spooks them and takes them off their patterns and puts them on alert in hiding.  I'm also not inclined to shoot at a running animal.

Proper gear and proper attitude can carry you through a lot of bad conditions, and I actually like knowing I will hunt in conditions that many others won't. 


Leave a legacy - teach a kid to shoot or hunt. 

NRA Life Member

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I agree with you 100%.  Our hunting methods may not be agreed upon by some hunters, but it's something  that can be taught to our younger generation if they are willing to learn.

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Awesome story!!! Congrats and way to stay out there in those elements!

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Yes, awesome story, thank you for sharing!!  Im not a big believer in rattling as I am of the opinion that its a bit overdone today; every hunting showfeatures the practice, tons of mag articles etc. and its kind of become "gimmicky" .  However, I stand corrected , well done!!

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