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Went to Wisconsin

Come on dude, come on. Move, move, move.

He just stood there.

This standoff, though, only a standoff for me, because the deer is just standing there probably thinking about goin and finding a doe to poke, starting stretching close to the 2.5 minute mark. I could feel my hands start to tingle a little and my shoulder feeling some strain.

I was telling myself you can hold out, you can hold out, he'll move any second, just hold it, just hold it.

I got about 20 more seconds before I had the thought of even if I can hold this for what might be another minute or two, the odds of me making a good shot have enormously dropped off already and are only going to get worse as I hold this draw.

A big giant exasperated "#*^@#*" went through my brain.

Okay, it'll be fine, you can carefully, oh so carefully release this draw, and wait for him to move 10-15 feet further and you'll have an even better shot. He's chosen his direction it'll all be fine. I tried the hardest I could to slowly, carefully, quietly release my draw.

But, my elbow brushed the tree behind me in the process.

His head snapped in my direction.

The true standoff began. I stood there, frozen, almost trying not to breathe. He takes about 20 seconds of staring straight up at my tree stand and decides that he does not like this situation at all. Whatever it is that's going on, whatever made that ever so slight, but certainly unnatural, noise, he's done. He slowly turned and slunk right back off from whence he came.

Gawd. Damnit.
Welcome to our world of deer hunting. Disappointing, but exciting!
 
Good stuff. Glad you enjoyed your intro to whitetail stand hunting.

I think the "buck fever" in a tree stand staring down a whitetail is enhanced by the sometimes LONG awaited encounter and the inability to move, at least when you're stalking something you have somewhere for that extra adrenaline to go.

It's also cool when u get to the point that you can tell when a buck is coming vs a doe just by the sound cadence of his footsteps in the leaves.

Hope you come back for more...came right through my neighborhood so LMK if you want to grab a beer next time. 🍻 great way to break up a LONG drive.
 
I had spent a lot of time thinking about what went wrong with this big buck.

Draw too soon?
Should've held longer?
Didn't analyze his direction well enough?
Didn't analyze the potential of where he was going well enough to notice the potential shooting lanes or lack thereof?

I think part of the reality is the answer is none of those and all of those. You can't know where he is gonna go, you can't know when he is going to randomly stop and stand and stare off down the hill side for no reason, you can't know that he could have just as easily stopped and stood broadside with a clear shot in the game trail at 25 yards for equally as long.

But I think there is a real answer, to some degree, and I do believe I should've let him wander a little longer before drawing. I was too antsy watching him come in. I saw him start to veer towards my right and thought that was the chance I was gonna get. But if I had just waited for him to continue on that path he would've ultimately been even closer and in some great clearings for a shot.

But you can never know. He may have ultimately decided to start walking directly towards me again, pass under my tree, and continue straight down the hill side, or veer broadside on the down-hill side of my tree then providing a shot.

It's impossible to say. On one roll of the dice drawing when I did would've been perfect but unfortunately when I rolled those dice, it was way too soon.

That said, this was the kind of experience I came to the midwest for. A big heart-pumpin "almost" with a big deer. That was cool.

I would later describe this deer to my cousin and he said that deer sounds familiar. He pulled up a trail cam pic and sure enough, that was the deer. He was a big, thick, symmetrical, wide 10-point deer whose main beam held low and close to his head, paralleling the ground if he held his head straight with little vertical curvature.

He was a cool buck.
 
I had spent a lot of time thinking about what went wrong with this big buck.

Draw too soon?
Should've held longer?
Didn't analyze his direction well enough?
Didn't analyze the potential of where he was going well enough to notice the potential shooting lanes or lack thereof?

I think part of the reality is the answer is none of those and all of those. You can't know where he is gonna go, you can't know when he is going to randomly stop and stand and stare off down the hill side for no reason, you can't know that he could have just as easily stopped and stood broadside with a clear shot in the game trail at 25 yards for equally as long.

But I think there is a real answer, to some degree, and I do believe I should've let him wander a little longer before drawing. I was too antsy watching him come in. I saw him start to veer towards my right and thought that was the chance I was gonna get. But if I had just waited for him to continue on that path he would've ultimately been even closer and in some great clearings for a shot.

But you can never know. He may have ultimately decided to start walking directly towards me again, pass under my tree, and continue straight down the hill side, or veer broadside on the down-hill side of my tree then providing a shot.

It's impossible to say. On one roll of the dice drawing when I did would've been perfect but unfortunately when I rolled those dice, it was way too soon.

That said, this was the kind of experience I came to the midwest for. A big heart-pumpin "almost" with a big deer. That was cool.

I would later describe this deer to my cousin and he said that deer sounds familiar. He pulled up a trail cam pic and sure enough, that was the deer. He was a big, thick, symmetrical, wide 10-point deer whose main beam held low and close to his head, paralleling the ground if he held his head straight with little vertical curvature.

He was a cool buck.
It's certainly not easy. Do you have a pic of the buck to share?! So we can see what could have been?
 
The next day I wanted to be back in the same stand. With all the action of the first full day in there and an "almost" with a big buck, I saw no reason to move.

Layers on layers to stay warm. If I so much as sneezed in all of this I would break out into a sweat, but while sitting there, I was just toeing the line between warm and cold.

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The morning would be dead. Dead, dead, dead. Well, kinda.

A small forky rolled through under my tree in the first hour of the sit and I came real close to drawing on him. He came along the hill side from down valley. Passed under my tree at under 20 yards pausing multiple times. I let him pass. I broke my vow to stop passing.

So I thne made the true promise to myself and I knew it was real this time: that would be the last deer that walks.

In a weird turn of events not even five minutes after this deer had left I caught movement up the hill side again. I grabbed my bow, stood to prepare, and peered up valley between my two tree trunks again.

That same little forky was coming back.

Bad decision little man. You could've been the last deer that walked.
 
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He was walking back along the exact same path, which would shortly drop him right in the 15-18 yard range in plenty of open area just down hill from my stand.

As he came within 5-10 feet of walking into these areas with clear lanes I drew and he paused, staring off into the trees ahead of him. It's as if he was thinking "wait, why did I turn around? was there a doe back there? I forget." I imagined he was wondering where all the deer had gone today just I was wondering the same thing.

He stood there looking off down valley, shrouded in branches from me having a clear shot, for maybe 30 seconds, then turned around and kept on his original path. Never a clear shot opportunity.

I slumped back into my seat pissed off that I had let him walk the first time.

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The corn had been cut at the family farm during our first full day of hunting, another reason we did not go there that day. This is usually a good thing. Hunting during the cutting would be bad, but it takes no amount of time for the deer to come back out into the fields to munch on the kernels that remained. With such a lack of activity at our spot this morning, it was off to the farm for the evening.

I was hopeful, there are a ton of deer on that farm. And food. Ooodles of food.

Activity was light, well nonexistent really, up until about 5 o clock.

Shortly after 5 o clock a doe showed up in the corn field behind me. At this point, I was willing to shoot a doe. But I only had one real problem with this, does usually meant bucks were near or would show up and I wasn't interested in messing up those chances. So, while I was willing to shoot a doe, it wouldn't be worth the potential, and admittedly unknown sacrifice of missing out on a potential buck by doing so.

This doe milled about between 35-60 yards for a good while, in a position that provided me no shot due largely to being left handed and as is obvious when she was under 40, having branches in the way.

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I learned a big lesson with this doe hanging around.

@Treeshark alluded to this in my previous thread regarding pooping. Whenever you feel the need, the answer is to go now. Right now. Don't wait.

However, with this doe, I had needed to pee for probably about 10 minutes before she showed up. If my memory serves me right it is when I stood up to pee that I realized she was back there and realized peeing was going to be slightly risky while she was so close.

The doe hung around for up to 20 minutes, ever so slowly filtering closer to me. By the time she was under 40 yards I was doing the tree-stand-pee-dance, if there even is such a thing. At least there is such a thing now. Slowly writhing and moving your legs to try and distract your brain from your bladder and she was absolutely too close to take a leak without her noticing. I realized it applies to peeing as well, maybe even more. The absolute second you feel you need to take a leak in the stand, you do it, immediately.

I strain under my angry full bladder watching this doe and eventually a tiny, I guess really just a forky, buck emerges from the trees further up the hill on the other side of the corn and starts investigating the open field.

2 other does and a couple of fawns had started milling about up there as well, maybe a couple hundred yards up there. He trots over to them and starts sniffing around. Those does seem largely unbothered and he quickly becomes uninterested. He then catches sight of the doe down by me.

He looks down at her for about 10 seconds, and begins his slow, broken, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting along move to come down and check her out. His path continues along the far side of the corn field curving around to come at her while she is between me and him.

Yes, yes, yes. Come on over man.

I manage to forget about my bladder.

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The doe takes brief note of this buck coming towards her and immediately goes back to feeding.

I have bow in hand, standing, anticipating the buck will likely, hopefully, push her to my left and he will follow, bringing them right across where I can shoot and remain under 40 yards, or closer.

The buck trots up and slows to a walk, brings his head down to start sniffing about, and the doe immediately bolts right up towards to the other does and the buck immediately chases.

Well, that's not what was supposed to happen. Dangit.

The buck hangs around up there for maybe 2-3 more minutes and get's bored, the seemingly hot doe wants nothing to do with him. He ducks back into the trees and looks to head down towards where my cousin is sitting in a stand.

Probably about 15 minutes later i catch sight of a much bigger buck moving along the cornfield 400 yards or more up, definitely not heading in my direction. Once he drops just behind the the crest of the hillside on the cornfield I grab the antlers and start rattling.

I notice that he has come back along his path and is looking down my direction. I let out a few grunts. He grows uninterested and goes back along his original path and disappears.
 
Nothing else happens. It gets down to the last 30 minutes or so of light and I had again mentally given up. Just wasn't gonna happen.

Remember this is the stand with about 40-50 yards of trees in front of me that stop at a bean field at the bottom with a scrape and rub directly on the tree edge in front me.

about 10 minutes into this final 30 minutes window I catch a deer moving along the edge of this beanfield. Not sure what yet. It reaches the scrape and immediately get's on it's hind to play with the brush above it. Okay, but, take your nice game trail the leads straight up to me and get some of this freshly cut corn, you know you want to.

I can't tell much about his size, but he's definitely a more mature buck.

He does what I don't want him to do, he keeps on walking the bean field and quickly disappears. I'm not 100% sure of where my cousins stand it, as I had not been to it yet, but I know it's generally in that direction.

Probably only 2 minutes pass when all of the sudden I hear a distant "ffffft THUNK".

I immediately know what just happened.

I'm both excited and a little deflated at the same time.

Text comes in: "just shot a 7 pointer, hit was maybe a little far back, i'm gonna go get the car then we can track"

"i thought that's what I heard! i'll finish off shooting light and meet you down there"
 
Arrow was covered in blood. But even in the bean field, there was no trail of blood to be found. He at least saw roughly where the buck ducked back in to the timber.

It's obviously dark now, so the trailing will be slightly frustrating. We start well above where he entered the timber about 3-5 yards and parallel the edge of the timber looking for a blood spot that would indicate where he entered at which point we would then continue in.

No blood found. I take not of a game trail I pass while doing this.

I go back up to the arrow to start again looking for a blood trail from there. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

My cousin is further down still paralleling the timber edge. Meanwhile, I decide that game trail just has to be it, deer don't do a whole lot of bushwhacking, especially when injured. When in doubt, trail it out.

I get probably 20 yards along this trail and finally find a small splotch of blood. Nothing promising. I yell my cousin over and stay put on it. As he is approaching perpendicularly to the trail through the thick stuff there is a sudden crashing maybe 30 yards further up the trail comingled with some grunting. He gain the trail and we slowly push forward another 20 yards.

More crashing. There he is. Abou 30 yards ahead in an opening of tall grass. He is struggling, badly, but is not able to walk anymore.

He would attempt to get up and roll, than lay there trying to breath occasionally bringing his head up to look around, then attempt to get up again and then crash. I hate it, my cousin really, really hates it.

I've watched stuff like this a couple of other times, one time it was my own doing on a solo mule deer hunt with a rushed shot, and the other couple of times were at the hands of friends I have that I was with who made a bad shot. Archery is definitely worse though, because you can't just rip a follow up shot in there super easily, and worse, he didn't currently have his bow.

It hit me in a weird way how emotionless I was watching this deer in such agony. It still bothered me and I hated it, but I just sat there crouched, very matter of factly watching what was unfolding. I was almost bothered by myself. I could tell my cousin was not handling it well.

We watched this for about 5 more minutes before we decided to just leave and come back in about 15 or 20.
 
We came back, bow in hand, and he was dead.

Yes, I felt a little deflated because I really wanted a deer, but I was certainly still excited.


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Gut and drag. Really not much to deal with out here. Which is nice.

We got him loaded up on the back of the car and headed back to go get dinner. The family was excited to come out and look at the deer.
 
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At this point, I was down to one day left. Though, it had been planned that if I made it to saturday without a buck I would stay all sunday and give it one last go.

The regret of having passed so many little bucks was beginning to weight on my mind.

The Saturday sit proved extremely uneventful. No shot opportunities, and almost no deer seen. The regret grew.

All in all I was at peace going home empty handed. I was at peace with that before coming out. I've got an elk in the freezer already, a little bit of cow elk left from January. And three tags left at home to hunt.

That said, I thought the odds were decent I would get at least any buck on this trip, and was certainly a little disappointing to still be empty handed after having had several opportunities, a botched a shot, and having passed so many little bucks.

Sunday came and I was eager to get back out to my primary stand after giving it a break all day Saturday.

I wanted to go back to the farm, but they would be baling all day Sunday. So that was a no go.

My FIL, MIL, and wife and the baby would be flying out after I would be in the stand for several hours.
 
The woods felt dead Sunday morning. My regret grew to slight anger at myself for passing so many deer.

I was also tired. I actually started coming down with a minor cold during the latter half of Thursday and it had been dragging on me and my sleep while out here hunting.

I was really tired.

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This whole trip I had watched a lot of does and bigger bucks filter through the bottom of the little valley in here. Largely, the entire drainage bottom was out of range, save for one little opening almost directly down from me, where it was in the 45-50 yard range.

It was across my 40 yard line I drew in the sand. But I had watched so many deer walk through there that I started telling myself I should maybe take a stab at that if another deer walks through that spot.

I did a bunch of practice draws on it, ranged it again and again, my opening ranged from 46-48 yards.

I don't know if this is what smart white tail hunters do. But, I was just too curious, there a few very thin branches, like millimeter level thin, that posed potential hazards to an arrow flying down there and I just wanted to know. The broadhead I had been flinging at the block target to check and double check zero was in my quiver still.

I decided to send an arrow down there and see if it hit where I was aiming. It was basically perfect.

Good to know.

Though, it had been like 3 hours and not a single show of deer in the woods. This was a hopeful exercise as much as it was one in boredom. I had been really wondering about that little opening down there this whole trip.

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The clock rounded about 9:45 or so and I caught sight of a couple of bucks down on the opposing hillside. They looked a little agitated, they had been trotting. I couldn't imagine what from.

Nonetheless, great sign.

One of them was a little bigger and the other clearly a young forky or so.

The bigger one disappeared from my sight but the young forky appeared to continue down towards the bottom, it looked like he was about to drop into the drainage and continue up.

No way.

I stayed seated as I had a good angle to shoot down into that opening. He dropped into the bottom and started meandering up right towards where I shot the arrow. I drew as he was about 5 yards out and as he approached the spot I grunted with my mouth and he stopped.

Damnit, just a little too soon. He didn't quite clear into the opening. He luckily decided to continue forward after about ten seconds and I stopped him again.

Arrow released.
 
It looked like a decent hit, vertically, it was a good hit, that was obvious. But it was clearly a tad far forward. But I was unsure how far.

He turned an started trotting back down the bottom and I could see that the arrow was still in him. He made it about 35 yards and the arrow seemed to disappear.

This hit felt much better than my hit on morning 1, but I was unsure. Was that a raw shoulder hit? It might have been.
 
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