Hits and misses as the rut approaches

Atchafalaya Delta WMA deer, hog hunting picks up.

I have been very busy working, and hunting when I’m not working. Deer and hog season down at the Atchafalaya Delta WMA has been good so far.

I was able to get a few hunts in, though I did miss some of the cold days when guys turned in quite a few deer. After my opening-day success of taking a doe, deer sightings were few and far between for a while.

Finally I did see a deer about 7:30 one morning; problem was that it was out at about 80 yards. It was feeding and slowly working its way in my direction.

Suddenly I heard a slight noise to my back. I turned to see a very nice 10-point buck only 25 yards behind my climbing stand.

I slowly turned and drew back. The buck stopped and looked right at me. I settled the spot between my 20- and 30-yard pin and took an extra couple of seconds to be sure I was holding on the spot I wanted.

I released the arrow only to hear an awful “thwack” sound. I could tell by the way the buck skipped away that it was not hit.

I was totally confused for a moment, and then it hit me: I was wearing my rain jacket that morning to keep the mosquitoes off  me. At 7:30 they were long gone, but I had neglected to remove the jacket. The string slapped my sleeve, did not fully follow through and caused my arrow to dive down at the buck’s feet.

This would have been a top 5 buck in my hunting career, so you can imagine how sick I felt. The buck did run by my buddy Randy’s stand but, even though he was at full draw, he could not get the buck to stop. He estimated the weight at about 14-pounds, but the rack was very nice.

I tried to recover my composure and turned back to the initial deer I was watching, but it had heard the noise, too, and began blowing. To make it worse, there were two other deer with the first one. All three ran off in the opposite direction without me able to detect if they bucks or does.

Yes it was painful experience and one that will take a while to get over.

Randy also had a close encounter with an 8-point buck. But that one, too, is still walking the woods. So we were finally getting to see some animals, but our luck had not been good.

On another hunt, I could hear hogs squealing and grunting as I walked to my stand one morning. I climbed up in my ladder stand and, before I had all of my equipment ready, I could hear a hog coming my way. Turned out it was three hogs, but they each passed at 40 yards and, with the wind howling, I didn’t want to chance a shot.

A short time later another nice hog came out and fed, but again it was just out of range. An hour later another hog came out at the same 40-yard distance, and I decided to try to stalk this one.

The strong winds were in my favor. As I approached, I saw that there were actually three hogs all rooting around together. At 20 yards I drew back and fired an arrow at the lead hog. All three ran into the myrtles.

There was a blood trail leading in but no arrow. Ninety minutes later, I found the 134-pound boar with my arrow still in his body. That is the longest I have ever trailed a hog and still found him.

It felt very rewarding for my persistence to pay off.

On another morning hunt, right at first light, I saw a doe quietly walking toward my stand. I could barely see my pins, and I waited for the doe to duck its head down and feed. As soon as it dipped its head, I draw back and let an arrow fly from just under 20 yards.

The deer jumped straight up and bolted. I was confident that it would not go far.  Two hours later I got down and found the deer dead in less than 30 yards, but the surprise was that it was not a doe; it was actually a button buck. He did fit nicely in my freezer, along with the first doe and the hog.

Just like many other seasons, I will have to take the misses with the hits and hope that I get more opportunities to redeem myself for the big miss.

With over two months of season left, I am hopeful that the rut is starting or will start very soon, as I have 10 days off to try get back down there and get in on some more action.

I am having a blast: Get out and get you some!

Good luck and be safe!

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