Growing up in a farming/surburban community afforded me a lot of chances most kids/teenagers miss. One of those chances was a great deal of outdoor related activities. Namely those pertaining too nature and the ways of the wild. While our greatest adventures never expanded past 200 acres of fields and woods, still they were adventures to us all the same. And it during these days of wilderness adventures that I learned the ways of animals abundant in our area. Rabbits, squirrels, foxes, muskrats, racoons, possums, etc...all were abundant and provided a means of food, money and a priceless education. The one animal that wasn't very abundant in Indiana during my childhood wilderness adventures were deer. Oh the occassional deer would wander through our tiny corners of wilderness only to disappear like the wind and ghosts of the woods.
It wasn't until later in life, around 18 years of age, that I began practicing with my compund bow for something other than competition. Well, I can say competition but honestly, I looked at my entries as filler of bodies. See...I could hit a bullseye at 50 yards no problem...unless it was competition. I once hit 3 out of 4 Moosehead Lager beer caps at 50 yards. But the minute we placed a bet on who bought the next 6 pack, I would sometimes just leave then and there for the liquor store. Anyways, I struggled every year from my mistakes and the genius deer. I read magazine after magazine and practiced all year with my bow. I even purchased a single-shot 20 gauge shotgun for squirrel hunting and deer hunting. I never deer hunted much during shotgun season, just never had an opportunity as archery season in Indiana offered more opportunities.
I think it was my 6 or 7th year of deer hunting that all my education and practice seemed to pay off, sort of. We had 1,500 acres to hunt during archery season. Prime deer habitat and farmland along with some of the best backwoods pond fishing I've ever come across. That year I had a stand placement worthy of bagging the huge 6-pointer I'd seen every year for the last 3 years. I had implemented grunt call, rattlin' bag and scents into my arsenal. During the first days hunt, I spotted my elusive buck wandering some 100 yards off through the thick brush. I hadn't used any scents as it was early October, well before the rut here in Indiana. Numerous does had passed with bow range and a few smaller bucks. But this stand location was set for the 6 pointer.
That night as I was leaving, I set a scrape within 30 yards of the stand and laid a trail in a circular irregular pattern throughout the area. I would not hunt the stand the following morning electing to scout and move deer for my fellow hunters. As I passed through my stand area, the area was littered with rubs and a few scrapes. I decided this was my 6-pointer telling me he was boss. I decided that afternoon to return to my stand as a front was moving in and the wind had bedded down the deer. Before climbing into my stand, I reworked the scrape I'd placed the night before. An hour before sunset, I used the grunt call and rattlin' bag. About 15 minutes later I heard noises in the thick brush. I caught a glimpse of the 6-pointer...he'd come back to defend his territory. I had lured him into my area and slowly moved into a position to draw my bow. He moved slowly and cautiously as he sensed something was amiss. It was getting dark quickly and I needed him a few more yards to be within range. I had the rattlin' bag hanging at my waist and decided to rub it against the tree. It worked! He bolted right into the area and stopped behind a tree not affording me a clean shot. It was almost too dark to see when he stepped from behind the tree and I let the arrow fly. A direct hit! He scampered off into the field and I was confident I'd bagged my first deer.
As my buddies scoured the area looking for my arrow or any signs of a hit, they started to quiz me on how confident I felt. I was confident, a good shot with the "thump" of a good hit. We looked for 30 minutes and nothing...not a drop of sign of my arrow. Only then did they notice a reflection some 10 feet off the ground in a small tree. That "thump" I heard was my arrow hitting the tree. I had bagged my first oak tree!
As I walked defeated back to our lodging alone, a figure came into view and rode beside me upon a great beast. He had seen the whole episode play out as if from the magical clouds above. He gave great advice and listened intently as I vented my frustrations. He didn't scold or berate me for my innocent mistake. He talked calmly and assured me I wasn't the first. I felt relaxed and calm after discussing the weekends event with him. However, we hadn't been properly introduced during our 15 minutes of conversation. I kindly asked his name and he replied, "From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues come our honors." And his mighty beast let out a grunt and he sped off into the darkened horizon. But not before I took this picture...
His site can be found here...