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Nov. 4, 2011

Big Bucks Corner

Bill Mitchell’s 11-pointer

Sat, November 05, 2011

bills buck


I knew with a weather front coming through Thursday night and Friday cooling off, (combined with a rapidly approaching rut), that Friday would be a good day to be in the woods. Unfortunately I had to work until noon that day. My plan was to be in the stand by 2 p.m. My hunting partner had the whole day off and was in the woods at daybreak planning to sit all day.  He kept me posted as to how the deer were moving. As I suspected by mid morning he had already had multiple buck sightings.  He passed on a borderline 9 pointer early in the hunt and was seeing deer steadily all morning.

On our farm we only have a couple stands that we can hunt with a NE wind. My buddy was in one of them so I had the choice of 2 others. The Mackinaw River divides our farm and in order to reach these stands you have to cross the river. It had rained on Thursday and the river levels can be quite variable. If you know anything about the Mackinaw it can be dry one day and a raging torrent the next.  Anyway my buddy had texted me and said the river didn’t look like it had changed much and thought I might be able to still cross in my knee boots. 

I arrived at the farm about 1:30 and proceeded to get dressed and head to the tree. I reached the river and began to wade in and quickly found out that knee boots, while adequate on Wednesday, were woefully inadequate this particular afternoon. I had 3 choices; go home and forget it for the day, go home and get my hip-boots, or hunt with wet feet. Back to the truck I went and back to town to go home and get my hip boots.  Round trip was a little over an hour. I arrived back at the farm about 3:15.  At the last minute as I was crossing the river I could see deer on there feet up stream a few hundred yards which made me change my stand location and hunt my second choice. As luck would have it this would prove to be a smart decision.

We had noted some good sign in the area; several large rubs were present so we knew we had a good buck frequenting the area although we had not yet seen him. This particular stand had not been hunted yet this season, mainly because a NE wind is somewhat unusual. We had been having westerly and southerly winds which create an entirely different set of circumstances for us. So this afternoon, it was nice just to have a change of scenery if nothing else. With a near perfect wind and, hunting in a narrow stretch of timber that runs along the river I felt I had put myself in the best possible location for what ever happened to meander along that afternoon.

I wasn’t in the stand very long and a 6 pointer came into range, he was around my tree for a while and my main goal was not to spook him. He finally moved on after loafing in that location for a while. He was a nice looking deer but clearly only 1 1/2 years old. About 4:15 a doe came along browsing with an 8 pointer following behind her. I estimated him at 2.5 years with decent body size but no mass to speak of. She moved along at about 25 yards from my stand and the buck followed her after a time. I sat for a while admiring the Fall foliage and watching a squirrel, typical fall afternoon.

Finally about 5:10 I could see the tips of deer tines 75 yards or so out in front of me moving through the timber. The buck was in a low spot so at first I couldn’t see his entire rack. As he moved closer it appeared as though he would go wide of me but at the last second he turned at an angle that would put him well within bow range. I was sitting down with my bow on the hanger and at that point I figured it was time to get ready in the event he was something I wanted to shoot. I stood up when he went behind a tree at about 35 yards as he closed the remaining distance quickly.  He came out from behind the large tree in front of me and I about fell out of my stand. That was the first time I had gotten a clear look at him. 

He looked my direction and at first I thought he had seen me but he put his head down and moved on up the trail to my left he stopped behind a bushy tree with is head down at 18 yards. I came to full draw and settled in on him releasing the arrow cleanly and watched it fly through both lungs. He jumped and ran about 30 yards stopping and looking back. At that point I knew the longer he stood there the shorter my tracking job was going to be. A second or two later he turned to run and his rear end was already going out on him. He went another 30 yards and crashed.  I watched him go down.

It happened like it always does…one minute nothing’s happening and the next minute you are celebrating.  Anyone who participates in this sport knows what I am talking about. Anything can and sometimes does happen. It is truly an amazing sport; this is my 20th year of climbing into a tree, some people think I’m crazy but I can’t imagine life without it.