So before we get to the end let's start with the beginning. This summer my father and I were on pins and needles just waiting to see what RD, AWD, Houdini, Hobble and more bucks on our properties were going to be in the 2013 season. The first three were already 150+/- inch bucks in 2012 and every single one lived through the hunting season...assuring some possible GIANTS around. Not to mention many young 2 1/2 year olds had gotten the pass in hopes of 2013 being special. Well it wasn't...honestly it was the slowest year for shooter bucks on the numerous cameras running on our 3 small properties.
This was the only buck showing his face regularly at one of the properties. He was a fairly consistent visitor to the Monsterraxx site during the summer. I wasn't sure what he'd grow into but I felt that I'd probably not be able to pass him up should he walk out in front of me come the fall.
1 Minute, 1 Sit, Staying 1 More Hour
Never gave much thought to a nickname for him, but I often referred to him as 'Kicks' in my notes or own thoughts due to his kicker of his right G2...so 'Kicks' it is.
Pretty much all of August, September and up until one pull in October we got nothing of any substantial size on camera pulls anywhere....Rocket Man a buck with growths was it...Kicks was not around it seemed.
Well I would hunt fairly often between October 1st through October 28th and going into that 28th hunt I had yet to see a buck...not even a spike. My father did likewise and actually saw two shooters at one property but never had a shot...outside those two bucks he also wasn't seeing much. So needless to say as 4:30am came on Monday morning of the 28th I had a hard time rolling out...but with the coming New Moon just a touch over a week away (Perigee) as well I knew things could start warming up and I might as well take advantage of having the day off.
I left the house just a touch later than I'd liked...and forgot sd cards for possible cam checks between hunts so had to turn around once....not a good start to the hunt.
I did snap this photo and posted to instagram:
After getting dressed outside the truck and pre-hunt prayer said I headed for the stand. It's a somewhat short walk but took my time as I decided to wear all my gear so no dressing in the stand would have to be done outside of my headgear and gloves (wish I'd put gloves on).
I was heading to an oak stand positioned in a stretch of oaks overlooking a micro food plot which was primarily brassicas. The stand choice was based on the fact it's a minimally invasive stand with great cover and a great travel corridor between night food and potential bedding. The wind for some would be deemed possibly bad for the stand but with rising thermals and only light and variable winds present I trusted my scent control and hunted despite the slight wind possibly blowing towards the night time fields the deer would "most likely" come from.
Crisp and cold morning...heading to my office 25ft up in God's creation.
I would bump a deer once I got to my stand, but it didn't blow or stomp...just two jumps and than seemed to be silent. My gut told me it was a buck as I've always noticed decent aged bucks slip off quietly rather than running or making tons of noise; I can neither confirm or deny whether this was the case.
Got up the stand and nearly had frostbite in my fingers which had no gloves on them...BIG MISTAKE. I had to spend time rubbing and blowing my fingers just to be able to nock an arrow. Got headgear on, gloves on (albeit late), new deer call hook hung to my right and rattle bag out in case needed. (that newly hung hook would be HUGE)
All was silent as light crept across the forest floor save for the squirrels waking up. So I decided to do some grunting and light rattling...this was approximately around 8am....shooting light had only been present for 20 minutes or so.
Everything would be silent for the entire first two hours of the hunt.
As 9:30am approached I chalked it up as another hunt of zilch to show for it. I even posted in an online forum to my 2013 forum team members this message:
"Well another sit is looking pretty ugly in the deer category....story of my season. All can change in one minute on one sit though keeping the faith." -tynimiller
Then around 9:45 a dinky little buck (fork horn at best) moved in directly behind me and slipped N of me out of sight.
Relieved I'd finally seen my first buck of the year I decided at 10am I'd get down and check the camera setting right in front of the stand, head back to the truck, warm up and then head back out possibly to a new stand for the afternoon....obviously nothing was really moving this morning.
That's when I saw legs of a deer moving off to my NW slipping south over near another set up we have about 90 yards away....a series of calls to it never did yield anything and it went out of sight. It was just minutes after 10 once this was concluded and I decided what the heck I'll stay till 11 instead.
At about 10:20am another deer in basically the same spot as the last one, slipping S about 80-90 yards away to my NW. Looked slightly larger so I decided to softly bleat at it just to see if buck and toy with it if it was. Soft bleat, it stops moving....puts head down-soft bleat again...it stops and looks my way. Not having binocs up still not sure buck or doe....it turns S slightly and I noticed antlers but looks like something small...I bleat anyways to test calling skills...he turns and starts walking my way. At this point he's probably 70 yards away and I'm looking through woods filled with bare bushes and sapplings....at a bout 50 yards he turns S again-soft bleat-he stops, turns and keeps coming my way again...
At about 50 yards and still coming directly at me I see he's not the fork but appeared to actually be a young decent little buck...not one I'd probably shoot but nice. Well at about 40 yards he turns S and as he does I instinctively without hesitating grab the bow with my left hand and right hand re-grabs the True-Talker hanging there on the freshly hung accessory hook put there just for times like this...I did this all because I caught a glimpse of his one side and it was much bigger than I'd thought. From this moment on I never again glanced at his rack...and to be honest wasn't sure what he was really until the moment I walked up to him...I just knew "enough".
The next seconds seemed like eternity...you see when he turned S at 40 yards he now was walking behind some Oak trees directly in front of me...I could see nothing. I anxiously peered into the poplar trees to the S of the Oaks which is where I suspected he'd pop out of his angle was judged correctly.....nothing......nothing......nothing......LEGS! He is angled to hit the micro plot to my left front right around 25 yards and be perfectly broadside.
I put my release on the string and get ready to draw before he stepped out....wait, he's turning S again...crap. I quickly un-hook release, grab the True-Talker hanging right there ready for this moment like before and turn the call away from him and let out a very soft bleat....let go of True-Talker and hook the release back up as I turn my head back to him just in time to see he's turning on a dime and angling SE now and coming into the micro plot.
This put him quartering to me at about 25 yards when he entered the plot...believe it or not this three shot burst of him is taken just seconds before I would shoot him. During this moment his head turns and looks SE, this is the moment I am drawing....and trying to read his body. If he was going to turn and go N along the two-track trail, which would give me 3 shot openings...or was he going to turn SE, giving me just one shot right at the turn.
I'm at full draw and watch him as he gets to the two track and begins turning his body SE...I knew instantly I had to stop him...but not yet....his left front leg was back in essence shielding a large portion of the kill zone...he takes a step and picks it up and pulls it forward. The second that foot begins to touch the ground I let out a "Blat" and he freezes....pins are already on him and I squeeze instantly....100% pass through by the 125 Slick Trick Magnum tipped arrows.
It was a 20 yard shot at most and I knew instantly he wasn't gonna live, it was just a matter of how far would he make it. He spins around and runs back into the woods (Poplars he just walked through)....lots of noise...then I see him wobbling back south right at the end of the micro plot 40 yards away. That's when the drunk wobble happens and he drops...takes one....two...three breaths and then no more.
The moments which followed are those which all of us love....disbelief...thankfulness....sadness for the animal....unexplainable joy for the hunter. I quickly texted my father and sat down...thank you God.
40 yards away laid a deer which I knew was big enough but still couldn't really see his rack clearly to know what I had for sure. I wait some time and slip down and out back to the truck...can still remember Tom Lester calling to congratulate me and when he asked, "So, what is he?" I had to say "I don't know yet".
I would head back to the deer for the walk up and it is always special when you put down a buck you've gotten pictures of...I instantly suspected it was 'Kicks' but wasn't 100% at the moment.
I patiently awaited my father who was on his way....all who know me know my hunting relationship with my father is something I cherish more than nearly everything in this world (save for God, spouse and family as a whole)...this picture on the trail camera captured the moment he sees him laying dead just 20 yards off camera:
After over 200 hours hunted last season and coming up so close a couple times with multiple bucks at multiple locations it was tough having such a slow 2013 hunt....but it's like I said:
"It just takes that 1 minute, on that 1 sit...when you stay that 1 hour longer."
Story of Kicks Walked Through Video
Specs of the Hunt
-Date: October 28th, 2013
-Temperatures: At sunrise-30, time of shot-43
-Wind: Light and Variable morning through till shot (ENE if existing though)
-Moon: Waning Crescent (30% Illuminated)
-Bow: Mission Venture 63lbs w/28.5 DL
-Broadhead: 125grain Slick Trick Magnum
-Arrow: Gold Tip Pro Hunters (with 50grain inserts up front)
-NAP Quickfletch Quickspins
-Shot Distance/Death: 20 yard shot, died at 40 yards
-Neck Swell Estimation: 60-70% neck swell, wanted the doe I made him think was there.
-Rut?: I would say pre-explosion...scrapes were everywhere but he wasn't rushing anywhere...but like stated was very curious and receptive to the doe bleats.
-Age Estimation: If pressed I'd guess 3 1/2...not over 4 1/2 (may send jaw bone in though)
List of Thank Yous
-Thank you first to God, what an awesome creation He made and I'm simply in love with it in every shape and form. He blessed me with warmth, health, safety and still flowed my cup over more with this buck.
-My Father, I won't attempt to express the love I have for you and the hunting bond we share.
-My Wife, the countless stories you hate to listen to and the hours spent away I know are hard on you....you are amazing!
-Bill Vale, my dear friend, brother and mentor. Your deer knowledge is so vast I pray to keep absorbing more and more of it each and every day. I truly know this buck may not have been possible without your book, your advice and your visiting the property.
-Randy Vanderveen, introducing me to the wonderful site of WAS (Whitetail Ambush Secrets). Love everything about it and what it stands for.
-Tom Lester of Monsterraxx. Your friendship is priceless and your product is amazing!!! 'Kicks' utilized the mineral during the off-season habitually.
-Covert Cameras for simply being amazing.
-Anyone and everyone else which has been in my hunting brethren, love each and everyone of you.