By HSP Member, Al
I reserved some property I've never hunted. Scouting was somewhat out of the question because of the distance traveled, but with good topo and satellite maps (that HSP provides) I could tell that the travel patterns wouldn't be difficult to figure out.
Day 1....I hunted the CRP field the first morning as it looked like a good travel area between feeding and bedding. I did not see any deer that morning. The evening didn't produce much more than that, just a doe at last light.
Day 2...I wanted to try the CRP again that morning. I spooked a small buck and a few does while walking to my spot. As the morning went by I saw a few more does and later a few smaller bucks, some of which were chasing does...a good sign. The evening hunt wasn't much. Did not see a deer.
Day 3...Again, I tried the CRP. This was about 60 acres that was surrounded by a creek with timber and winter wheat. I didn't see a deer all morning and the temperature warmed up quickly. Mid day is when I "could" have changed my entire hunt. I called the HSP office to see if there were any properties open in the area. Thank goodness there wasn't.
After a bite and a nap I went across the CRP field down to the creek. It was getting warm. Signs of the rut made me think that I may see bucks cruising through the timber. I only saw two fawns the entire afternoon. Right at dusk I decided to walk the outside edge of the timber and check out two small winter wheat fields on the property. The first one showed no sign of deer and the second plot was just over the hill. I crested the hill just enough to see the field but nothing was present. As I was glassing I could see that a few deer had just jumped the fence, coming out of some cedars. It was at that point that my hunt "did" change. When he jumped the fence I instantly had to catch my breath. I tried to skirt the backside of the hill to get in front of him and his does. I didn't make it as they headed to the neighbors property. I had enough time before dark to glass him and could easily tell he was at least a 5X5 and 3-4 years old.
I remember how my wife reacted when I told her that sleeping was going to be tough that night...."Why"? They just don't understand, do they?
Day 4...I sat by a small cedar down- wind from where they came out the night before, hoping this was their usual bedding area. About a half hour after sun up, the buck and his does came across the hill where I was standing the night before, but did not present a shot. They jumped the fence into the bedding area on the down- hill side of me.
Late that afternoon, I placed myself 80 yards from his bedding area. I was in the wrong place again as the does came out the opposite side of the timber and he followed. I could see them but had no ethical shot. He did finally cross the creek with his does but it was 10 minutes after shooting time.
Day 5...The morning was cloudy, somewhat windy and cold. I remember questioning myself over and over again while driving to the property, "where do I go". I was seeing that he could enter the bedding area from any direction. When I arrived on the south road, I was startled when he ran across the road in the headlights. I thought for sure this was the last time I would see him. I was wrong again. An hour after shooting light, he came running behind his does, over the same hill, right at his bedding area. I was only 63 yards away and he did not make it across the fence. One shot from my Ruger .270 put him down in his tracks.
He is a 5X5 with a couple of kickers on the right side. I put a tape to him and he will gross around 151" and net 146". His spread was impressive...18 5/8 inside and 21 6/8 outside.
I have been on several deer hunts that were over the first morning. This hunt took everything I had and really tested my "patience".
Thanks HSP for giving me the opportunity.