Thursday, October 29, 2009

`Hey, he's not half bad'

Mac Arnold shot his first buck in three years with a bow on St. Clair County public land Oct. 26.

I just knew I had to get out into the woods the first chance I got with the rut starting to kick in.

And despite having worked the night before and only having about three hours of sleep, I was up at 6 a.m. and scrounging around for my gear.

What really got me thinking was how a friend of mine, John Breck, had knocked down a doe and possibly a nice 8-pointer who wouldn't leave his damsel in distress the past evening of Oct. 25.

The other thing that had me cranked up was how many deer I was seeing over the past couple nights while driving home from my job in Mount Clemens. Every night, and not just deer, but big ones -- both doe and buck.

With money tight and not wanting to gas up the truck, I decided the place to go would either be behind the St. Clair County homestead or across the street in the public land.

As always with this dilemma, the wind would make the decision for me. And since it was coming from the south-southeast, public land it would be, which was fine because that was really where I have been seeing most of the deer when out on stand watch.

I was en route to the location about 7:15 a.m., which by most experts is considered way too late but is actually the time frame I prefer -- just before sunrise. I think it can be more damaging to go crashing through the woods in the dark than to be a little more stealth when you can see, whether you have a big-ass headlamp on or not.

As you'll see, it really doesn't matter -- at least with me if I'm in an hour before sunrise or right at sunrise, especially when the rut kicks in.

I was in the stand and hunting by 7:54 a.m., which was right around the time of sunrise for Oct. 26. Shortly after 8 a.m., I watched three deer move 100 yards to the north and head into the thicket where I hunt this patch of public land. I get about 50 to 75 yards off of it and lightly grunt with cotton balls and fake scrapes made up with scents from Bob Kirschner, a Pa. deer guru. (The stuff works.)

After those deer passed, the action slowed.

I turned my attention to finding out how John was doing with his buck search via texts.

He was on a blood trail but it was beginning to peter out. But he at least had the doe.

I was going to leave at 10:54 a.m. and make it exactly a three-hour hunt.

And as it often happens, I was just about to drop down from my climber perched 20 feet in the air and there was a buck! He was right in my wheelhouse, and I didn't have the bow unhooked. I was totally caught with my pants down.

I grunted and grunted and didn't expect to get another chance at him when he broke back into my direction.

Then ... I got the shakes. I couldn't figure out what the heck happening ... buck fever on this guy? C'mon, he's a mere forkhorn or less. I thought I was calmed enough to hit him but the first shot I yanked on the release. Thunk! Into the leaves. But he didn't figure out what was up -- carbon from above.

Zinger No. 2 -- went just under him.

Again, I was willing to quit from pure personal embarrassment but then he circled back around and zinger No. 3? Crack! I hit a branch somewhere. At least this was more of a legitimate botch.

No way would I get another opportunity. Plus, I was down to my last arrow. Yet, he came back and stuck his nose into the scent I had out but he was partially obscured by a overhanging maple branch that still held its leaves.

I had already lowered my draw once and my arms were burning. I saw an opening and on the hardest shot of the four. Down he went from the famed shoulder blaster hit.

He wasn't a hulk or anything but after he was down I saw he was bigger than I thought.

"Hey, he's not half bad," I muttered to myself.

The buck turned out to be a wanna-be 8-point but only two points made it on the right side, so he was a 6-point.

I guess there's truth in the Thomas Edison saying, "Ninety-nine percent persistence and one percent inspiration."

OK, so I altered it a bit. Still fits this situation though, and believe me, I'm hitting the backyard range extra hard for next time.

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