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Sorry for the long post – I love hearing details of others hunts. If you don’t, skip to the bottom for pictures.

It has been a bit of a slow year for me. I've been out over 20 hunts, but have not been able to get on anything nice. One farm had a nice 6x6, but he disappeared. We have a really nice 3 (or maybe 4) year old on another farm, but I really want to see what he will look like next year. An old bully that I passed last year was my main target, but he went AWOL weeks ago. I'm thinking EHD may have hit the area more than I would like to believe.

Friday the 17th I decided to try another farm I've only been on once this year. I have no cameras there so was excited for a 11/17/2023 "let's just see what might come by" type hunt. I do like cameras, but feel they have taken a bit of the fun and excitement out of the hunt for me. The anticipation of a spot with no intel, but some good history, was refreshing.

I was up plenty early, made it out the door on time (which isn't always the case for me) and felt great about the day. About 1/2 way there I hear a "thump/thump/thump" and pull over. I walk around the truck and find the passenger rear is completely flat. What a nice way to start off the hunt. I generally just drive to my spots in my merino wool bottom and top with crocs. Luckily, I tossed in sweat pants, a sweatshirt, and socks that morning. It would have been quite chilly without them....

Jack and tools found. My biggest worry was if the spare would drop or if the lug nuts were too tight. All that went well. Another hunter stopped and offered to help, but I said I was good. All was great until I had the lug nuts off and the tire would not break free. I kicked, pried, and no luck. Another hunter stopped and said his buddy had the same issue. He crawled under and proceeded to kick the tire while I held the truck steady. Still nothing. I sent him on his was as there was no reason for both of us to be late. Finally, I decided to let it back down, and creep ahead a bit - that finally broke it free. Finished up the tire swap (good air in the spare) and was rolling again after the 1 hour and 15-minute delay.

The long walk (generally in total darkness) now started out in grey light. The hike in was uneventful and I put the sticks up, pulled up the stand, set it and back down the tree. Added extra layers and back up the tree. I was settled and hunting at 7:35 - just a little over an hour late. Around 7:50 a young 9 point was trailing a doe and he came broadside at 15 yards. 9:55 and a buck was grunting in thick stuff south of me. I never got a good look at him. 10:45 and a small 8 walks right to my tree. At 11:00 I see a solid shooter in the distance trailing a doe. At 12:35, I see movement in front of me and a nice buck is following a doe. I stood before they got close and picked up the bow. They were passing on my right so I had to rotate. My first movement caught his attention, so I froze. The doe moved and he started after her again. I rotated and he stopped and looked my way again. Freeze again and wait for the doe to move. The buck followed and I drew as he went behind a group of hickories. When he comes out, he is angling away a bit as he likely saw more movement. I "neet" him to a stop and he turns broadside (or so I thought). There is brush, but I find a hole and take the shot. The placement looks good, or just a touch low, and he mule kicks and runs straight down the ridge towards the creek. He actually snowplowed a bit after his initial jump or two so I thought I broke the off front leg. I expected to see or hear him go down as it was very quite. But neither happened. I could see the arrow from the stand and it was covered in blood.

I sit down and let the shakes subside a bit before texting our hunting group. I said I was going to give it a couple hours since I did not hear or see him go down. My son (deerhunter93) and good friend (bjohnson) both say they will be over for the recovery. I wait until almost 3 and take the stand and sticks down and pack up. I check the arrow and soon start finding blood so I trail slowly. The blood isn't hard to follow, but looks more muscle that I liked. The other two have arrived and I send them a pin where I'm at. I look over to see them off to my left, take a few steps forward on the blood trail and see the buck get up from a bed 50 yards away. He cuts to the right and I get a good look at him in the binos. I hit him just behind the front shoulder like I thought. He is obviously hurting and stops after a 50 yard run. I lose track of him and watch for 10 minutes. I head over to the "recovery" crew and we decide to back out. I'm pretty frustrated at this point but do feel like I will find this deer.

I'm back at 7 in the morning and make the long walk in. I go back to where I was standing when he jumped and look where I last saw him. Nothing. I follow the blood trail and find a bed just 10 yards from where I had been standing. I follow and find the bed he jumped from 40 yards further. So, he had bedded, got up, moved 40 yards, then jumped when I was trailing him. I found little blood after the bed he jumped from so I just followed the path I had seen him run. I approached a drop off and as I peeked over, I see the butt of a deer. Praise God! I watch him for a few minutes to make sure he is dead and approach. I send out the group text and all are excited for me.

The exit was just in front of the leg. I tried to autopsy. It did not appear I caught lungs or heart – likely nicked a vessel above the heart. Lots of crazy stories this year of “looks like I pinwheeled him” and then it is a tough recovery. I think he died shortly after I jumped him the prior afternoon. I was just very thankful it was around 30 degrees, and the coyotes didn’t find him.

Another “odd day” buck for me. We joke that I should not even hunt even days. Nearly 80% of the nice deer I have taken have been on odd days in November (9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 have all been good days).

The “praise God” moment.
As I found him from the front - shows the exit




2nd one for this arrow and ready to go again.


Entrance - sure looked good to me

Thanks to Brent for the name suggestion – Firestone.
Congrats. I also keep arrows in the rotation until they snap. I have a couple that have killed 4 bucks each.
Great buck, congrats! I agree...with that entry I would have thought you would have walked right to him DRT 50 yards away.
Perfect ending to a rough start. Bet that was a relief finding him right away the next morning
Love the story. Those unknown bucks add a level of excitement to the hunt for sure (the buck in my avatar pic was a stranger to me). Congrats on a really nice deer!!
Awesome job!!! Great Shot! Hopefully this means all of our track jobs will be sub 40 yards next year!!!!!
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