This year’s rifle season started off much quieter than I was expecting. Even the guaranteed sound of gun fire from surrounding areas was limited compared to previous years.
I was fortunate to see two deer on opening morning but not for any lengthy duration of time. As I do every year, I set the goal early to put the hammer down on a big monster of a buck. Although this goal is always on the front burner, as the season drags on the realization that this year may not be the year for the “wall mounter” sets in and the standards begin to lower.
The first week of the hunt passed and I had yet to set eyes on any antlers. Although I had been fortunate to see a good handful of deer in the first week I was still waiting on a buck to take a stroll past my watch.
About mid-week, signs of the bucks becoming territorial started to show and their acts of dominance became more obvious. I was noticing fresh rubs and scrapes on a daily basis surrounding the ridge I had chosen to watch. I knew there was a buck in the area but was becoming discouraged as I had yet to catch a glimpse of the animal. I was certain it was a wise buck that moved at night and I would be hard pressed to see him in the daylight hours. The first weekend of the season came and went with still no sightings of the buck.
As my discouragement set in my father piped up with some words of wisdom and advised me to stay put on my watch and continue watching that area. “Persistency” he said, would lead to a reward in time. He wasn’t wrong.
Monday morning as the sun rose and shone through the hardwoods, I heard the all familiar and recognizable sound of a deer making it’s way through the bush. As per usual my heart began to race and I situated myself so that I could see the animal cross the bottom of the ridge. I struggled to catch a glimpse of the animal and began to convince myself that it would be the same doe I had watched on previous hunts.
Much to my surprise once the deer came into my line of sight I could distinctly see the antlers above it’s head. He was completely unaware of my presence but I wasted no time. As soon as I had the opportunity, I stealthily raised my gun and found him in my scope. The buck stopped momentarily on the ridge to lift his nose and check the breeze for any unfamiliar smells and that was the time I chose to take my shot. He dropped instantly. I was quite excited even though it wasn’t the big swamp donkey I had been dreaming about.
The events following the take down are just as exciting to me. Fellow hunters converge on the spot to see the result of the morning and high fives and hugs are shared. But then the work begins, field dressing the animal and getting it out the bush are always the next steps. Although with ATV’s this isn’t as much of a chore as it had been in years prior.
I am quite happy with the result of my 2016 rifle hunt but I have yet to give up on getting a great big monster of a buck. Even if that doesn’t happen, I now have a nice buck to begin working on for my next European mount, which is something I am definitely looking forward to!