It was a cool November morning in NW Georgia as Jayden and I got ready for the day’s hunt. The previous evening Jayden got what we call “buck fever” as she took a shot at her first deer. Buck fever is when you are so excited that you start to shake and your heart is pounding so loud you swear the deer can hear it. She squeezed off a round from her .243 bolt action rifle just a bit too soon and sent the deer running, scared to death but not bleeding. I heard the shot but continued my round through the woods as planned and came up behind her. On the ridge as she saw me coming, she was excited and asked if I heard her shoot. She sat in her stand and I walked out from her as she tried to navigate me to the spot the deer was standing. We combed the ridge for a blood trail, hair or fat, anything to show us that the bullet hit its target but, we came up empty. Sometimes the bullet doesn’t fly the way we want and misses the mark.
This morning was going to be different. After a pancake and coffee breakfast we set out from camp and formed our plan for the day of hunting. We descended from the ridge where our camp site was into the valley below. The valley is approximately 100 yards wide, 300 yards long and surprisingly flat and in it a creek snaking north to south. We had set up a blind weeks before almost to the bottom of the ridge on the east side that over looked three different scrapes and several rubs at the southern most part of the valley. She was going to sit at this blind as I was going to the bottom of the valley and move north about 100 yards and sit at a different tree stand for a bit and then start rattling. I moved as quietly as possible, I always fancied myself akin to Daniel Boone as I move quietly through the woods. I got to my stand, made a quick look around scanning the landscape for any "sign" and climbed up. It’s a comfortable stand that you can easily take a nap in, but there would be no napping this morning. I sat for about an hour and decided it was time to rattle. I climbed down from my stand carefully and quietly looking around the woods as I took each step just to be sure I don’t miss out on a nice buck. I leaned my Marlin lever action against a fine looking oak tree and grabbed my rattling horns. I began the rattle. I was making as much noise as one can make and being in the valley the noise was echoing as if I were shouting into a canyon, I rattled my horns, I broke branches, rustled leaves and pounded on trees with logs. I kept this up for about 10 minutes, grabbed my trusty Marlin and continued my Daniel Boone walk through the woods. Stepping slowly and purposefully as I constantly looked around for the nice buck. I had gone about 100 yards and found a really nice tree to sit by, it had this weird kind of growth at the bottom that formed a perfect back support. I was sitting quietly for quite some time and as the sun rose over the top of the ridge it began to warm me up, it is a really nice feeling to have the warm sunshine on you on a brisk November morning. After being there for a good bit I noticed my feet were getting cold as they began to sweat on my walk in, I took off my boots and socks as quietly as I could and began soaking in the vitamin d that the good Lord was providing. It was calm and peaceful and I was enjoying myself very much. I was facing east watching the sun come over the ridge and quite pleased. So pleased that I began twirling my socks in the air to dry them, as I forgot all about best hunting practices and was simply basking in the sun and quite pleased with myself and the nice spot I found. To my amazement (because I was doing everything wrong) Behind me and to south I heard some noises that caught my attention. These were not the common squirrel noises hunters hear but snorting and hooves pounding and branches breaking. Barefoot and totally unprepared I grabbed my rifle and turned to the west, about a quarter of the way up the ridge I saw two does running north, they were wasting no time as they moved through the woods, a short distance behind them came this ruttin’ buck hot on their trail. He was moving fast and crashing through the brush and snorting like a mad man. I had my scope on him more than once but I never had a good shot. Then they disappeared into the woods. I waited a bit in hopes they would come down into the valley in front of me so I could get a shot. But they were gone. I was facing north at this time and heard more noise to my right - another buck coming, crashing through the brush and charging like a bull.
I turned east with my all readied rifle in hand. Put the scope on him and followed him, lots of brush and trees in between. Directly east of my position he stopped dead in his tracks, as my scope continued forward I had to back it up a bit and he was standing just far enough ahead of a tree and I squeezed the trigger. He jumped off the ground and ran north, I cycled another round into the chamber and watched his hind legs fly into the air and drop to the ground with a loud crash. I knew I had him. I walked over to make sure he was dead and went and got Jayden so we could experience tracking him together. We dragged him out of the valley to the top of the ridge where camp was, it was an incredible morning hunting with my daughter and we made some awesome memories!
11 points. 19 inch spread.