Watch Where You Walk
By Barry Dart
It was during the deer hunt of 2011 when I learned a very important lesson about mature bucks. In the pre-season I started getting pictures of a mature 10 point that was moving in one of the farms I hunt. It was clear he was living there but moved around regularly. For days he could be found feeding in the field every evening and with the rut starting to ramp up conditions where great to keep him there. I set a stand on the main trail, pulled the camera out and waited for the southern Ontario bow season to start.
Fast forward to just after the gun hunt ended in mid November. With the corn harvest under way in our area, it was time to start hunting that stand. My plan was to hunt the farm on the Friday evening after work, so earlier that week I decided to run in and make sure everything was ready. Thinking I was being careful by spraying down with “scent control” I walked into the opening ahead of the tree stand to see if there were any fresh buck tracks in the mud. Yes! he was still using the trail.
With last legal light at 5:30 I was on stand early that next Friday hoping to connect with the buck. A light dusting of snow had fallen the night before which I was thinking would make it easy to track a deer.
Just before 5 pm I saw movement about 60 yards down the trail, then an antler tine. With his nose tight to the ground he slowly worked his way up the trail. If he followed that same path it would put him broad side at 16 yards in front of me. With his nose still practically dragging the ground he stepped into the opening. I was ready. To my surprise he stopped, right where I had been standing 3 days before, turned around and headed back out the way he came in.
I was still able to make the shot with my Excalibur Phoenix crossbow and later found him 40 yards back down the trail. I still find it hard to believe that even with the new snow he could smell me where I had been standing. Although the point might seem insignificant, the results would have been much different if I had walked anywhere else on or around that trail.
Remember “hunt smarter not harder”