When you see anything on the internet, watch any TV shows, or read magazines on hunting you get the feeling that it’s “all about inches (score)” or on the other spectrum just about “filling the freezer”.
It’s almost like politics...choose one side or the other and we’ll continue to fight over it constantly…
Personally I like big racks and I like to eat.
That being said, there was a time in my life where I was chasing the big racks and my mom didn’t want any more meat for the freezer. We were dairy farmers and had a plentiful supply of beef so we didn’t rely on venison much. What that led to was not shooting any does and because I didn’t connect with a big buck, not shooting anything at all for a few years(with a bow at least)…
To be honest after that dry spell I was losing my drive to hunt at all…
So that next year I decided well before the season that I was going to kill something, I almost had a type of blood lust...I felt like a predator....something was going to die.
My target for a buck was at least a 2 year old that year (previously 3+) and luckily for me there was a bounty of them that year and oddly enough not much else bigger on camera in my area, that made the decision pretty easy!
On the morning of November 3rd after finishing up farm chores I jumped on the 4 wheeler and checked a trail cam I hadn’t looked at in a couple weeks. There were bucks all over that area the last few days with 1 coming through about an hour before I checked it!
That evening I had a Northwest wind which works out pretty well for that spot. I got out of the truck, got ready and headed across the alfalfa field. As I neared the crest of the hill I decided to glass the grassy creek bottom to make sure there wasn’t any deer out and about before I made my way down to the grassland to set up. Low and behold I spotted a 2 yr old 8 pt in the tall grass and making his way to a larger woods to the East. I watched until he disappeared from sight and headed down towards the East end of the grass near the woods.
As I got down to the area I wanted to be I realized there wasn’t a good tree where I wanted to set up so I pushed in a little farther towards the creek. As I got closer movement caught my eye, I could see the antlers of a buck standing down in the creek!
I decided to slowly backpedal as the buck disappeared and find a place to set up on the ground.
I had planted a few white spruce in this area years ago, they were now about 8’ tall and just a little wider than I was. After surveying my options I realized I needed to stand as the grass would hinder my sight and shooting, so I tucked myself up against one of those white spruce. With my ASAT Leafy Suit on I was pretty confident I would blend into that setup, they just needed to stay upwind.
I waited it out for another hour or so without much activity when I saw a glimpse of some movement on the other side of the creek. I got ready and reconfirmed the spots I had ranged earlier. Before I knew it the deer were in the brush no more than 10 yards in front of me! Then a doe shot out to the East and turned South coming right for me with the buck only a few steps behind her. I drew my bow back immediately, as I did the doe caught my movement and darted to the side (she was maybe 5 yards from me), the buck sensing the does sudden reaction came to a halt broadside next to the spruce I ranged at 14 yards. I settled the pin and watched the arrow disappear right behind his shoulder. It made that perfect thwack/thump sound as the arrow passed through the ribcage and exited the other side, double lung. As soon as I released that arrow I knew he was dead.
And as Rut Daniels says “he didn’t gooo 20”!
Although that buck was far from my largest…
That hunt...the way it happened...the way it all went down and taking that deer off the ground at that range will always be one of my most memorable hunts. I’m getting all jacked up reliving it now as I write this! There was absolutely no shame in my game after shooting that buck like there might have been in the past. I was hunting for ME now, not for anyone else's approval.
And I’ll tell you what, that buck relit the fire to hunt hotter than it ever was!
My size standards have returned to larger bucks, but the gauge that tells me whether to shoot isn’t the tape measure. It’s in my gut and in my heart.
I will say there is a difference between making up a lame excuse to shoot a smaller buck and making a conscious choice to do so. I believe that choice should be made before the season starts, don’t lower your target as the season goes on. As the saying goes “don’t pass a buck on the first day that you would shoot on the last and don’t shoot a buck on the last day that you wouldn’t shoot on the first”.
If you feel like you’re losing your drive after years of failure like I did then maybe you need a reset year to rekindle your fire. Just try to make that choice before the season starts, believe me it was certainly much more fun and rewarding!
- Brandon Urmanski
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