I started 2018 strong, spending as much time in the woods as possible adjusting trail cams, making mock scrapes, clearing shooting lanes and countless other to do’s that I had on my list. Knowing that my new baby was scheduled for delivery opening weekend of rifle season got me motivated to get this done. Well, my baby girl came about 6 weeks early and changed my plans once again. I was not able to get out during the beginning of bow season at all, but with her early arrival, I know had a chance to get out for rifle season.
Saturday November 10, It had snowed 2 days earlier leaving about 1″ of snow on the ground and the temps had dropped into the single digits for my first morning hunt. Being that this was my first hunt, I did not even flinch at the idea of sitting in such cold weather in hopes of harvesting a deer. I had numerous photos of mature bucks on camera the last few weeks all out during daylight hours and using the area I would be hunting frequently. I had left the house around 5:30am and stopped at 2 cameras to pull the cards before climbing into the stand by 6. After settling in I began to review the 2 camera cards I had pulled and sure enough the results were consistent, mature whitetails on the move during shooting hours. With the previous days snow, cold weather, and barometric pressure at its peak just before it starts to drop, I just knew this was going to be a good day hunting.
The first sounds of snow crunching to the pace of a whitetail heading my direction was at 7:10am. As it got closer, It appeared through the trees to only be a small spike heading back to his bedding area after a night of feeding. As the rest of the hour went by I would catch noises behind me on the other side of the ravine, but could not get an eye on what it was. As 8am rolled by I once again heard something behind me, but this time when i looked over my shoulder, making its way down the other side of the ravine straight towards my direction was a mature whitetail buck. Not sure if this deer was going to come up my side of the ravine and into a perfect shot at him, I began to attempt to adjust myself in the stand (yes, I had a safety harness on) by slowing stepping down onto the ladder portion and pivoting around 180°. This left me facing the tree i was previously leaning against. By this time, he had turned around and began the climb back up the way he cam slowly quartering away from me. As I leaned around the tree and located him in my scope I let out a grunt to attempt to stop him for a shot. I followed up with 2 more grunts before he finally came to a stand still leaving me with just enough of his vital area exposed between the trees to pull the trigger. He turned and went the rest of the way over the ravine and disappeared on the other side. For some reason I was nervous about the shot I just took, I felt that the way the deer reacted I may have missed or did not hit him properly to take him down. After packing up and getting down from the stand I slowly made it down the ravine and back up the other side to the location I had shot him. As I approached the tree I was referencing I seen what I was hoping to find…fur and blood. This gave me instant relief knowing he could be just over this hill. I followed the blood trail out of the ravine and into open field filled with cedar trees. As the blood seemed to thin out, I turned to my left and spotted my buck laying in the snow only about 50 yards from where he was first hit. After approaching the deer, i was able to confirm he was a mature 5×5 whitetail, that I had actually seen on my trail cam photos I had checked that morning. 2 hours into oping morning rifle season everything came together and I had filled my tag. Onto filling some antlerless tags next weekend.