It was quite windy, but the direction was good, and it died down towards sunset. Just prior to that, I watched a small 2 1/2-year-old buck work a scrape, cross the creek and walk within 5-feet of the bottom of my ladder. I enjoyed the show wondering how many other people were busy watching television programs while I enjoyed nature's ultimate reality show as the buck disappeared from sight.
Several minutes later I heard grunting and he had found a doe and was dogging her right back towards me. They both ended up within 15 yards of my tree again but he stopped and looked back across the creek. Apparently, other bucks had heard the commotion and were coming down the trail behind me.
For the next 15 minutes I tried to figure out which buck was which among four or five that had come into the picture. Light was fading fast and I saw two that looked like deer I would shoot as they were both mature, big-bodied deer with nice racks. Despite the fact they were less than 50 yards from me I couldn't get a real good look due to thick cover and they were in no hurry to give me a closer view.
I had about 15 minutes of legal shooting time left when they finally got close enough to think about getting a shot. I turned, still seated in my stand, back to my left and drew my Mathews bow as a huge-bodied 8-pointer with a heifer-like body walked no more than 6 yards away. He moved through a small shooting opportunity before I had the pin settled. I stood up to turn around to the other side of the tree but just as I did I noticed another buck right behind him walking into that same spot so I held at full draw. Ready now, I grunted when he hit the opening and he stopped.
I had time to try to calm down although for me that's like going from a 10 to an 8 as I get so jacked up I'm surprised I could hit a barn. I rested the pin for a nanosecond and released. The buck mule-kicked and took off like he was running a mad dash. He and the others disappeared around the bend in the creek and the woods were silent.
When I turned back around there was another nice 8-pointer that had walked to within a few feet of my ladder stand wondering what was going on. I watched him wander off before finally climbing down as it was now dark.
I was roughly 80 percent sure I had made a near-perfect, fatal shot but it happened so fast I second-guessed myself as I often do due to the cataclysmic adrenaline rush I get every time I shoot a deer. So I headed back home figuring it was the safest bet to wait until morning and take up the track as the meat would be fine with temperatures near 40 degrees.
But on the 45 minute drive back to my house I saw four packs, with three or four in each, of coyotes cross the road and then another single dog. I had one other buck years ago I left overnight and the coyotes beat me to it. I tagged it and chalked it up to experience. After seeing all the coyotes on the ride home I was bound and determined it wouldn't happen again. I called a buddy, Kent, and loaded up one of my boys, Cody, and we went back out at 9:15 p.m. armed with flashlights and hope.
The buck wasn't a monster rack-wise, but a beautiful specimen nonetheless. I was happy and proud to put my tag on him and we shot photos from several different angles. His body was huge and I was thankful another good friend, Dale, lived just across the section and had a Kawasaki Mule he could drive right to him! It took three of us to get him in it for the drive out and we arrived back at my truck at 11:15 p.m.
I had planned to look at my photos in the morning as we got home at midnight. I was still too fired up to sleep so I went ahead and took a peek. Kent did a fine job as my photographer and I appreciated his, Cody's and Dale's help with everything else, too. It was nice to share such a special outdoor experience with good friends and family.
I finally crawled into bed at 1:30 a.m. with a smile on my face. Sleep didn't come easy as I replayed all the events of this memorable experience over and over in my mind. It would have been fitting to call this my Halloween Trick or Treat buck, but it was close enough and I'll take it!