December 7, 2007
5:30 am. Threading cautiously through the fresh snow, I retrace my tracks to a stand location. Aware not to disturb my immediate surroundings, the rope is knotted onto the crossbow stirrup and hoisted. I never transport the bow when climbing nor load the ‘bolt’ when pulling it up, a simple and important routine which could save your life. I start my ascent positioned seventeen feet above the edge of a cattail swamp. Attaching the safety harness to the birch I sit down, raise the bow up the tree and prepare to hold court. The stand rests on the east, flanking to the south for two hundred yards is ‘the swamp’, directly facing west is a vast bedding area where whitetails bed, a sanctuary of sorts. It consists of a jig saw puzzle of blow downs, cedar swales and prime refuge for trophy whitetails, a silent world with limited access. To the north is ‘the grange’, a concession extending perhaps two hundred yards made up of thick timber and cedar.
7:10 am. Dawn brings a 10km an hour wind from the west. Ambient light is decanted by a steel grey residue of mist along with cascading traces of snowflakes rendering an artistic impressionist painting, similar to the likes of A.Y. Jackson or Franklin Carmichael.
9:30 AM. A yearling doe weaves silently towards the corn. Resolute and determined, she meanders through the battalion of red squirrels and begins feeding. Indistinctly I remove a Knight & Hale doe bleat from my pocket and project 2 bawling bleats. The doe immediately responds and motions to investigate. Confident the sound is not threatening she continues refueling while every so often looking towards the timber behind her.
9:45 AM. Deer commonly display this form of body expression. Be unshakeable and stay still, too often a hunters impatience results in the loss of an opportunity to tag a trophy animal. As the story was unraveling, she showed limited nervous behavior. Whatever it was traveling in the shadows was now audible, notably the ‘ticking’ of antlers. Then out of the cedar copse, a two and a half year old six point joins her in the pile followed by a second four point and at a safe distance a ‘spike’ buck charged with anxiety. Here was a text book scenario, three bucks in obvious pursuit of a ‘hot’ doe.
Shortly after the team entered her space, she flanked to the left side of the stand heading directly behind my post, a potentially perfect setup. I could hear her in the snow as she stepped through the cedars directly opposite the rear of the birch.
No sooner had she disappeared when the four point buck decided to follow, virtually in her tracks. The ‘spike’ buck hadn’t moved more than ten feet since his arrival. The six point buck was fascinating to watch, at no time during the event had he tightened or looked behind him… then the plot thickened!
10:00 am. The next few minutes revealed the plot line. A dark grey massive bodied ten point suddenly appeared. No introduction, no sound just materializing out of what seemed like thin air. (Thirty minutes have passed up until this point.)
Guardedly he crossed the threshold of security into the open area where the six point buck stood. The big buck stood stock still, scrutinizing any ill intentioned behavior from his subordinate. The six point buck nosed the patriarch on the neck which erupted into a lightning quick response and a crash of antlers. As a subordinate animal, he turned away from a potential beating and continued in the direction of the doe.
Between myself and the spike buck (who remained still) covers twenty five yards to the right, twenty yards out to my left at eleven o’clock is a monster buck running on high octane. What’s favorable and to my advantage is a westerly wind blowing out from the staging area, the downside being the trio somewhere behind me and catching my scent.
The big buck leaves the pile and swaggers past the ‘spike’ buck who receives a menacing stare by his rival. In an instant, something stops him in his tracks. In a motionless and statuesque pose befitting a champion boxer, the monster holds tight behind a 30 foot pine. Crossbow fixed on a gap between two cedar bows measuring twelve inches I wait. Reversing the bow opposite my natural shooting position, the shakes set in more from tiring than nerves; or so I tell myself. It was the only way possible to make the shot since his choice of direction determined the outcome. This lasted a solid five minutes… without a sound he took three steps into my shooting lane and the bolt connected.
An immediate “mule kick” was evident followed by a phenomenal burst of speed down the belly of the mire, perhaps a quarter of a minute to cover 200 yards.
After a 10 minute wait, I lowered my bow, disconnected myself from the birch and made a slow descent. Following his tracks in the snow carried with it concern… no blood. Exiting the cattail swamp in a mixed emotional state, I see his 300 pound frame idle in the snow with the bolt deeply penetrating his vitals.
Standing beside his large mass I notice his left ear is torn in half along with a 4 inch scar below his right ear traveling five inches down his neck. The ‘purveyor’ estimates the buck to be between seven and nine years old.
Great thanks to Jay Wilson (see the “Wilson Homestead”), without him the chore of getting “Scarface” out of the area would have been daunting if not impossible.