Crossbows, lighted nocks, baiting and wounding loss…. Oh my!

It is a different type of blood sweat and tears, but it is work to make it happen, nonetheless.

As I've said before, it is amazing to see the vegetation come back to the south place...

(@npaden a plea for HuntTalkers not on 10 years ago to see the photos after the fire, and a link for the story on the wood chipper conversation that had the cool video of the brush hogs doing work)
I need to probably do a separate post just on the fire and what it looked like before, immediately after the fire and now. I have a bunch of pictures, I need to see if I have some larger ones, all the ones I could find are 800x600 or smaller. But it was 12 years ago and that was a fairly big image back then.

Here's a few of the moonscape that it was right after the fire.

north panoramic.jpg
Here's a close up of the tree in the middle for perspective. My son was only 4 but still give perspective.

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This is a view from my rifle blind. The white barrel is my old feeder.

nfeeder_from_blind.jpgnfeeder.jpg

Then just a few more of the burn. I have a ton more pictures but this gives you a good feel I think.
burn9a.jpgburn6.jpg

Then I scrounged up a few aerial pictures from when I bought it in 2007. These are from my brother's plane. No drones back then.

2007Aerial_Hill_Pond2R.jpg
2007Aerial_Hill_PondR.jpg
Then a couple that I just took a few weeks ago with the drone. This is after the mulching.

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The pond is as full as it has ever been in the 16 years I've owned it.
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And finally a link to my post on the forestry mulching.


Here's a video clip.
 
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Got him processed last night. He ended up being a bit bigger than I thought body wise too.

Since we didn't shoot a deer or elk last year we have been completely out of burger so everything but the best steaks and roasts ended up in the grind pile. Ended up with 37 pounds of ground and 22 pounds of steaks and roasts. A total of 59 pounds of packaged boneless meat. I weighed the fat and trimmed stuff (he had quite a bit of fat on him) and it was just over 10 pounds.

That puts him at somewhere between 180 and 210 pounds live weight. Not bad for a Texas whitetail.

IMG_8424.jpeg

Freezer starting to look good. I sure do like my new (2 years new) chamber vacuum sealer.
 
Well, I left work a little early to get things together and make it down to our property 100 miles south in time for an evening sit. I didn't mess around pulling our travel trailer down there and just planned to sleep in the back of the truck like I did a couple weeks earlier. It's right at an hour and a half drive door to door so I ended up making it down there at 5:30.

It was pretty warm (90 degrees) so sitting in the blind with the windows closed was a little uncomfortable. I ended up opening the window facing the feeder and opened another to get a breeze through the blind for a little but then shut it to keep my scent from blowing all around. With just the one window open and the wind from the south I felt like I was okay on scent.

I wasn't really expecting much, but I thought about my biggest strength as a hunter as being persistent so here I was. The sun goes down and it gets a little more bearable in the blind and I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye. A deer is coming down one of the paths that was mulched this summer. Its a buck... It's my #1 target buck!!!

My heart starts racing and I start going through what needs to get done to make this happen. I've got the crossbow cocked and ready, I'm in a good spot in the blind, I have my phone on the tripod and it is set looking at the feeder. He keeps coming in slowly and carefully. He gets to the fence and is thinking about whether to jump in or not and I decide that I'm not going to wait to get this on video. I've seen other deer catch something wrong and take off without ever coming all the way in. I've got about a 25 yard shot and he is broadside and I don't want to take any chances.

I am nearly hyper ventilating but calm myself down get the dot behind his shoulder about 1/3rd of the way down and pull the trigger. There is a definite thwack and he turns and kicks his back legs way up in the air that almost always indicates a good lung shot. He runs off back down the path and I can see him slow and then go off into some thick brush and then am almost positive I hear him crash.

Did that really just happen? Based on trail camera pictures I was pretty confident he was going to be my biggest whitetail buck ever!

I was so pumped I texted my wife and son and a few others who knew I was hunting that evening. Then doubts started to creep in. Was that really a crash or was he just running through the brush? It was starting to get dark and I needed to decide if I wanted to wait or not. I decided that I could at least go look at my bolt and see what the blood looked like. I get out of the blind and set all my stuff at the bottom and go look for the bolt. I can't find it. I move around and start looking for blood. I can't find any! This is not looking good.

I cast around a bit and find one tiny little drop of blood. I can see his tracks where he took off and the tracks are easier to find than the drops of blood. It seems that each set of tracks has one tiny drop of blood. I follow about 25 yards and it doesn't get any better. One tiny drop of blood about every 3 or 4 yards. I really start to worry. I have my crossbow with me but I didn't have it cocked. It's only been about 10 minutes and you are supposed to wait an hour. But I really thought I heard him crash and it is starting to get dark.

I mark the last blood and decide to go a little further. I make it another 10 yards or so and the blood stays the same just a tiny drop at a time. 5 more yards and I am getting close to where I last saw him. I look over to where I though I heard him crash and there he is, dead! A flood of relief goes over me as I walk up to him. He's a solid buck. His frame isn't quite as big as I thought based on the trail camera pictures but he has character and then some. I was so pumped up I forgot to take my "as they lay" picture and got him pulled out of the brush where he crashed onto the mulched path. He's a old mature buck for sure. Sometime very recently he has broken off one of his brow tines, I look around in the brush where he crashed but can't find it. I check my shot placement and it is a little higher and more forward than where I thought I was aiming but it was obviously effective.

I have my little tripod that I've been using but haven't gotten the app to take pictures with your voice so I'm running a 10 second timer on my phone and running back and forth. I take a bunch of pictures and hope that some of them turn out decently.
IMG_8490.jpegIMG_8460.jpegIMG_8480.jpegIMG_8452.jpeg

You can see in the second picture the broken off brown tine.

After pictures I decide to go get the truck and drive it at least to where the feeder is. I forgot to mention that after I found the buck and was walking back to get my stuff to start working on him I found the bolt. The lighted nocks sure make finding them easier! I was very surprised to hardly see any blood or anything on it. This was the same bolt I had used on my last deer so some of the blood on the fletching was left over I think. I guess I should wash them better so I know exactly what is the new blood.
IMG_8428.jpeg

Based on the bolt and the blood trail I would have had no idea what kind of shot I had made. Very happy that I saw him run off and heard him crash.

It's getting close to full dark by now and I need to get him cut up and in the cooler. It takes a little longer than normal as I cape him with the thought that more than likely I'm going to get a shoulder mount done and even if I don't it is a nice cape that someone would want. He is a little bigger than the buck I shot Sunday morning and there isn't going to be room for much ice in the 52 quart cooler I'm using. Quite a bit of fat on him, this wet fall has been good. I get him all cut and in the cooler and it is quite the heft to haul it back the 50 yards to where I parked the truck.

I'm headed back to the house a little before 9 pm with the biggest whitetail of my life in the back of the truck. I'm on cloud 9.

I get him iced down at the gas station 15 miles away and can only fit about 15 pounds of ice in there. I put the extra ice still in the bag on the cape. I reward myself with a Klondike bar and hit the road home. I do some voice texting on the drive home and make it to the house at 10:30. I know the score doesn't matter but I'm really wondering what it is going to be. I had guess he was very close to 150" based on the trail camera pictures and I'm thinking he is pretty close still but not sure. I get the cooler and his cape and head unloaded and in the barn and decide to measure him right then. Decent mass, lots of scoreable points (8 on the left and 7 on the right) but the tine length isn't that great. We get the numbers down and add them up and he's at 148 1/4". Not quite 150" but the biggest deer I've shot by almost 15". I think people think 150" and 160" whitetails are around every corner and all you have to do is let them grow old, but I think a 150"+ whitetail is pretty rare most places even if you let them get to maturity.

I dropped him off at the taxidermist this morning. I think he is worthy of a shoulder mount just because of the character. If I add in an inch or two for the broken brow tine he actually gets to 150" so I think that's good enough for me. This makes my 16th season of hunting on my own property here in Texas and based on that I think he may be the biggest whitetail I'll ever shoot. For sure one with the most character.

Oh well. Long winded post but I'm still very pumped and excited. Thought I would share. It's been a great season so far!
 
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What a great couple of deer!! So glad you were able to get the first one and not have to always wonder what happened to him. Hope your incredibly successful year continues for the rest of the season.
 
Here are the jaw bones from both deer. The one I shot first at the house was aged by a biologist at 4.5 years old.

I put it up next to the one from the one I shot down on the south property and if I had to pick a single year I would say 7.5.

IMG_8594.jpeg

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He was at least 6.5 but I would guess 7.5. There is quite a bit of wear. I had a buck with just a little more wear that I sent to Matson’s Lab and they aged him at 8.5. I don’t think this one was quite that old but getting close.

For sure both are mature animals and I think the one I shot down south had reached his full potential and wasn’t going to get any bigger.
 
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