The archery season in my area has been open for over a week now, I did more pre season scouting than any year previous and from all my trail cameras and all the time spent watching the fields from the truck with binoculars I definitely was disappointed in the low number of deer this year and there were virtually no bucks to be seen. Those that know me know I'm not overly concerned about scores or size(of course a big buck is a wonderful bonus), but the one thing i absolutely love and a huge reason i hunt archery is the chance at a velvet buck, i LOVE velvet antlers. I always have the "any given Sunday" mentality and there's nothing I love more than sitting in a stand or blind with my bow wondering if that crack of a branch or rustling in the bush will be a deer that comes within range. So the first few hunts of the year I had a few deer every night in front of me, I missed a doe and had some other close calls but they were either out of range or spooked for one reason or the other and left the field. I checked the cameras on a couple fields yesterday to decide where to hunt for the evening, one field had a huge bear on the cam but no deer, the other field had zero pictures. So both fields were not looking promising but this particular field I saw two nice bucks for just one evening last week that got to within fifty yards(unfortunately there was no shot and they didn't come closer)they were only seen that one night but I figured you just never know when they will reappear. I chose a different stand location than the one I was in the night when they got to within 50 yards based on the wind direction yesterday. I get up in the stand and settle in for the next 2 1/2 hours until dark. Not long after while on my iphone( might as well keep occupied!!) I look to my left and see brown on the field. Two deer happily eating but constantly looking and scanning, smelling. I slowly get up and grab my bow undetected, the wind that was supposed to be north west according to the usually unreliable environment Canada is now changing directions every minute. Brutal. The deer don't see or hear me but I think that big old nose got me because the walked off the field not to be seen again that night. I keep checking the wind and it's all over the map as the evening wears on, I'm wondering if I should even bother staying till dark. I even put a post in the MHF shout box about the wind ruining my hunt while I was sitting in my stand. Well the wind still was switching but it was light so at least I could hear if something was coming, so I figured you just never know where the deer will come from so might as well sit till dark. About 20 minutes until the end of legal shooting time I hear a rustling of the tall grass to my right, I know something is coming to the field but with all the trees in the way I don't know what. If it makes it out to the field without winding me I should be ok because the wind is now light but predominantly blowing my scent into the bush behind me( which really wasn't what I wanted when this night began). So I grab my bow, and wait a few seconds and out walks a buck. I draw back, he stops as he walks onto the field and at 25 yards I put a slick trick right through him. He runs right in front of me and past about 30 more yards, stops, does two turns and drops right in front of me. No tracking! From when he got into sight in lower light to shooting the arrow took mere seconds and i made a split second decision so I really had no idea exactly what kind of buck I shot. I chill in the stand for a few minutes and fire off a few texts and then go and see what I will be putting my precious one and only general deer tag on this year. I get up to him and smile ear to ear, it's a beauty 5x5 velvet buck. The velvet is starting to come off so I got lucky getting him that night because that velvet stage was going to be short lived. Ok so now what? I'm a mile from the truck and I can't drive on the field because the crop is still standing. I don't have my hunting partner with me like most nights because he had to stay home so I don't have any help and nobody to take pictures. Step one was to fire off more texts with a picture using my iphone and make a few celebratory phone calls. Then I figure I'll go drop off my backpack and bow at the truck and bring back a rope to try to help drag him while keeping his already fragile velvet rack up off the ground. I get back to him and get him gutted, start the drag and it's just not happening. For those that don't know me I'm not exactly a huge man, tall but pretty scrawny lol. There's just no possible way I'm dragging this guy that far, he's a heavy big bodied deer. I figure I could drive just off the edge of the field so I don't drive over the owners crop but that will be through some pretty rough crap and bush higher than the hood, but being a dry year and pretty much having no other option it's an easy decision. I pull up to him and go to hoist him in the back of the truck, no dice! I try and try but my skinny arse just can't get him up and in. Head first, butt first, sideways, it just doesn't matter. The more I try the more tired me and my arms get. I should note that I've done this plenty of times and usually I can get them in but he's a heavy bugger and there's just no way. What to do? Oh yeah there's a rubbish pile the landowner has in the bush very close! I check it out and voila some big old wooden barn door or something. I lean it up on the tailgate and instant ramp, he slides up nicely. Unfortunately from all the lifting and dropping I ruined a little more of the velvet but it's just part of the whole story I guess. I get off the field and was homeward bound. My wife stayed up late so that I could have some pictures with a good camera with me and my deer, not just the crappy iPhone pictures of the deer laying in the field. Getting him hung up in the garage was another trial in futility, tried the quad winch but it was lifting the quad front end off the ground. Got in and cleaned up and downloaded and emailed photos to a few people and tried to get some sleep but I barely slept a wink and was up at 4:50 a.m. as usual for work. Got a hold of Darren who I use for my taxidermy and will be getting him there tonight. The score? No idea and I never will know. I have a strange philosophy, I love hunting and I love chasing bucks but I really don't care about what a deer scores. I look at a deer and if it is a shooter to me that's all that matters in my books. I can't eat antlers anyways, in the end I hunt for the meat. The racks are nice bonuses and look cool on the wall and in pictures, but for me it's all about shooting the right deer for me, not trying to attain some standard( not that there's anything wrong with people doing it). I think any deer with a bow, buck or doe is a trophy, just my opinion. That's the story, two more antler less tags to fill and I'm done for the year. Good luck to everyone else.
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