We started our morning at 4:30. Well, more like he did. I usually find my way out of bed, at the soonest, once the coffee has started. I have to lay there for a few minutes convincing myself that “today is the day”. That this early hour is “worth it”. As he is attempting to light the stove, he realizes we forgot to turn the gas on the night before. He stepped outside and around the corner to the tank. Getting to the tank, he heard deer walking behind the cabin. This guy naturally walks with slow stealth-like intent, day or night, in hopes that he may have a wildlife encounter. Well, this morning was his morning.
There was a buck and he stopped and grunted at the does behind the cabin. At which time, “E” grunts back. He did not have a grunt call. He has actually mastered this art with his vocal chords. He and this buck went back and forth for a few minutes. Once the does realized “E” was standing there, they all ran off. Meanwhile, I’m inside pulling myself out of bed and getting my gear on, completely clueless to what is happening outside. A few minutes later he comes inside and tells me of his experience. “Of course! Only him”, I think to myself. Truly though, how cool is that???? I doubt I would have had the clear mind to think about making any noise to communicate with a deer, in the dark, not being able to see that is ACTUALLY what was there. I would have probably froze on the spot, praying it wasn’t a bear, or yeti, or some creature surely set on eating me for breakfast.
A short time later, coffee in hand, we are on our way to our hunting spots to settle in for the morning. It was calm, cold and we had snow on the ground. I make my way into our pines to a pop-up blind (complete with heater), and him to the swamp to a tree stand we found already mounted in a tree. We had agreed we were going out with minimal expectation, but high hopes of at least seeing something to talk about. I saw nothing but birds and bunnies right along with the spiders that emerged in the blind when I turned on the heater. He, however, had quite a morning in the swamp.
Our neighbors yard is visible from his tree stand. Along the property line he spots 2 shooters on the back hill. He brought his rifle up to watch them through the scope, put his grunt call in his mouth,and gave 2 deep grunts with the call (using the call allows the sound to go farther than his vocal call will). The bucks turned to come into the swamp toward him. They quickly turned to watch something deeper into the swamp. Turning to see what they were looking at, he saw the buck we had named “Righty” from the pictures on our trail cams. Righty is a big bodied buck. One side of his antlers were missing, and the other side was a tall, thick, and had 5 points.
In the direction he was walking, “E” glanced forward to find an opening following the walking path Righty was taking. Putting his scope crosshairs in the opening, all he had to do was then wait for Righty’s shoulder to appear in his scope crosshairs. Once Righty made that step, “E” pulled the trigger, and Righty dropped right where he was at. Immediately, “E” reloaded his bolt action rifle and looked to find the other 2 shooters, greedily hoping to get a shot at one of them as well, and tag out in one day. Unfortunately, with the shot he took for Righty, the other 2 circled into the thicker portion of the swamp and he could not get that second shot.
Over in the pines, after listening to a morning of gunfire all around us, I knew when I heard his, that we had success for our first season. Texting him “Was that you?” just to make sure, he replied with “yes”. It wasn’t long and I was making my way to him to help him recover, field dress, and haul out his first trophy from our Crooked Table property.
It wasn’t long after getting to him, and getting set up to field dress, that my back is to the East end of our swamp. My gun is against a stump and his is slung over his shoulder. Can you imagine where this is going? It was in an instant that “E” stops, crouches, and reaches his arm out to stop me from any potential movement I may make. He spotted a buck moving into the swamp behind me. He makes a bleat noise with those trained vocal chords of his, and the buck begins walking our way. Not having my rifle anywhere near me, I get this look of complete disgust, while he hands me his gun. I pull up to get the scope on the deer and watch and wait to be able to count the antler points on this animal. State regulation for our area requires 3 points or better on one side. We are only counting 2 on the right and one on the left. Not enough to harvest this animal legally, so we stand and watch. Not only for the experience, but to see if his big brother decides to join him.
No such luck. I am told later on, that I was whispering outloud “just one more, just one more”. Meaning he needed to grow one more antler point on one side, but alas, this prayer was not answered that day. We then continue with the field dressing of the one he had down, and drag this beast on a snow sled through the swamp and back to camp.