The little things...

This past bow season has taught me – once again – about the little things. You know what those are right? They are the little things that can go wrong while bow hunting that cause you to come home empty handed with one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda stories! Yeah, now you know what I'm talking about, right?

My season started off wonderfully. On Oct. 12, a day where the temps soared above 90 degrees, I was so fortunate to be up in my ladder stand, when a nice 8-point 160-pound buck came sauntering by at 25 yards. A quick shot put him down in his tracks. Yeah, baby! First time I had ever shot a nice buck in October at the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area.

On Nov. 4, while being filmed by Jason Aycock for the Bayou Bucks 2 DVD, I had two does come up from behind me. Jason had already seen the does and was in the process of filming them, unbeknownst to me. He had whispered to me that they were coming, but I didn't hear him. When I finally did see one of the does, she had already seen me. I could not get my bow up before she scampered off, leaving a yearling behind. I chose not to shoot the smallish yearling. The little things ….

Three days later, I was still with Jason, being filmed; not much was going on. Jason was looking out one way, and I was covering the other. I thought I may have a heard a small splash and turned back to look over my left shoulder. I saw one of the bigger bucks I have ever seen in my hunting days. He was sporting a wide rack, with tines that were not very high, but he looked to be close to 200 pounds. Jason was looking off in another direction, so I quickly whispered, "Jason!" Well I guess my "whisper" was a tad too loud. That combined with Jason swiveling around to start the camera, brought the big buck's full attention directly up into our tree. He did not hesitate as he turned and bounded away to safety. Oh the little things ….

In early December, I was hunting a stand inside the myrtles, when I heard the definite sounds of a deer cracking some branches and approaching from my back. I repositioned myself and waited, the deer was coming down a trail that would take it to within 15 yards of my tree. Suddenly a work crew on a nearby dredge boat started talking on their radio over the loudspeakers. Aaargh! The deer stopped and ran back a few yards. After everything quieted down, I began using my grunt call. The deer started coming back, using another trail that would still bring it within 25 to 35 yards of my stand. I drew back as it came into view.

Honestly, what I saw next took my breath away. It was the absolute biggest buck I have ever seen in person. It had four points of thick massive antlers on the one side I could see, not counting if it had brow tines. But it was the huge muscular body that was so stunning. My guess would be 230 pounds or more, but I could be wrong because, again, I have never seen a deer of that size. Still at full draw, I saw I had a small area where I could put an arrow in its vitals. I took the 25-yard shot, and instantly knew I had made a mistake letting that arrow loose. There was an immediate thwack as the arrow hit branches long before it ever got to the small hole I was aiming at. The arrow actually turned up and hit the hole sideways, falling harmlessly to the ground 5 yards from the buck. He ran back about 20 yards, stopped and started blowing.

I quickly nocked another arrow, but as I did I heard another deer approaching from my left. I looked up and a very nice-sized 4-point had entered, and I would guess was checking to see what the bigger buck was blowing at. I had to freeze as this buck was only 12 yards away. Finally, it turned and walked away, and I went back to trying to entice Mr. Big to come back. Unfortunately he never did. This one REALLY hurt!

Again, the little things ….

And finally, in January, I was hunting a buck I had seen six weeks earlier while scouting. He was a nice 8-pointer with a good-sized body. I jumped him up from his bedding area and got a pretty good look art him as he escaped into the myrtles. I set up my ladder deep in the myrtles in a thick area that had a few natural shooting lanes, but it was tight.

I have often heard that the first time you a hunt a stand is many times the best chance you will have to see a deer. This turned out to be true for me that afternoon. About 5 p.m., I heard and then a saw, a nice-sized deer that I was sure was a buck. As it got closer, I could not detect any antlers. I thought it was at least a spike, judging by the shape and size of its head. Finally I got a good look and it had no antlers. I still think it was buck that had already lost is antlers, but I will never be able to prove that, as I could not get a good, clear shot. After my earlier misadventure I did not plan on shooting through any branches if I could help it.

While the deer was very interested in my grunt call, I could not get it into an opening or any closer. Right before it got too dark to shoot, I heard a deer approaching rather noisily. I got a good look at the deer, and it was the buck I had seen six weeks earlier. He had no idea I was there but he was in some very thick stuff, although he was heading down a faint trail that would take him to within 5 yards of my tree. While he was almost out of sight in the thickness, I decided to draw back and hold it until he came out under my tree. I figured that would only take about 10 to 15 seconds and that way he wouldn't hear or see my motion of drawing the bow. No, not quite. As soon as I drew back, he stopped – dead – and did not move another step for, well it seemed like an eternity but all I know is my arms began to shake. Then my legs followed suit. My entire body was now shaking as I knew if I let down it was going to be over.

I lowered my bow and braced my left arm against my leg trying my utmost to hold on. Finally I had to let down. The buck immediately bolted back a few yards and stopped. I could still see one hind leg, and then it began blowing. Same old scenario, I grunted and while it did respond somewhat, it never came back into shooting range until after it got completely dark. Then I had to wait up in the tree for 20 minutes until it eventually walked away, to keep from spooking it.

Yes the little things ….

Those little things in each case, kept me from getting a nice deer, but you know what? Each one of those hunts were extremely exciting. My heart was racing each time and to me that is what it is really all about....the anticipation, the pulse pounding excitement and the fulfillment that I did get that close to each one of those beautiful bucks. It is what keeps me coming back time and again.

The little things ….