KEEP YOUR COOL
By Lee Phillips, Excalibur Field Staff
I drove from my home in Ohio to hunt with Tom and Rhonda Brakke at their place in Iowa. I would be hunting with my friend Wade Derby from Crosshair Consulting, and a couple of his friends. It was obvious that I was the first person in camp, and I began unpacking. I sat my bow and my big duffle bag down on the porch of the lodge, and I was greeted by Eric. He explained that he would be doing some of the guiding, and I got settled into my room.
Eric whipped us up a nice lunch and we discussed the plans for the day. He said that since I was early, he would take me around with him over the property for an overview. We hopped on a gator and went to pull some cards from their trail cameras. As we drove along, I couldn’t help but notice the large numbers of big buck rubs. Rubs and scrapes seemed to be everywhere, and my interest in getting to the hunting was very high.
When we got back to the lodge, I got my bag target out of the car to take a few practice shots with my crossbow. I took a few shots at 20 and 30 yards, and the bow was shooting dead on. Little did I know that Eric had been watching me shoot. He walks up and says…”What are your plans for the evening? You don’t need a guide — how about I put you on the stand at four o’clock, and you can go on your own?” I said…”That would be great”. We made plans to leave at 3:45 pm, and I went to change into my camouflage clothes.
We took off on the Gator, and drove up to the top of a long ridge. Eric stopped at a pine tree that had a ladder stand in it….AND….the truck of the tree had a big buck rub on it. Eric made sure I was safely in the stand, and told me that he would be back right at dark to get me. I settled in and took my rangefinder out. I measured some distances around the stand, and I made note that it was 30 yards to the feeder which was directly in front of the stand.
I sat there for 45 minutes, and I noticed some movement behind me to my left. I decided not to turn my head for fear of scaring whatever it was — so I just sat there motionless. After about 5 minutes, a small 6 point buck walked out from directly under me. He was acting very cautiously — as if he knew that I was in the stand. The buck continued to pace back and forth, and showed no interest in going to the feeder. After about 8 minutes or so, I could see a deer standing about 40 yards off to the left. I could tell it was a buck, but again, I was afraid to move since the little buck was still close by.
Finally the deer stepped out. All I could see was that it had some big points on the left antler, and that it was BIG! He acted as if he wanted to go to the feeder, but he would only take a couple of steps at a time. He was keeping his eyes on the little deer, and all I could think about was that the little guy was going to get nervous and ruin everything. Finally the big buck walked the last 10 yards and was right next to the feeder. I put the crosshairs high on his ribcage and squeezed the trigger. The big buck bolted, ran back from where he had come from, and piled up 50 yards out. I sat there for 10 minutes and walked over to him. He had 12 big points, which later turned out to be 23 in total. This was my biggest buck to date, and I was thrilled with him; and even more with the fact that I had kept my cool while that little buck was so nervous!