It only takes a second for an entire season of frustration to turn amazing.
The 2018 deer season in eastern Connecticut was slower than normal. After two years where gypsy moth caterpillars ate nearly all the leaves off the oak trees, they just didn’t produce acorns.
Unfortunately, on property I have permission to hunt on in Griswold, acorns are pretty much the only food source. I had only seen one deer since the start of the private land season almost three weeks earlier. That was on the first morning, and the deer didn’t present a shot opportunity.
On Dec. 4, the last day of the private-land firearms season, it was cold. A strong breeze stung my face as I sat in my treestand on the crest of a ridge.
That spot had been good in the past, but it hadn’t produced any action in 2018. This morning, like all but the first, was equally unexciting.
I had been randomly blowing on my call since first light and had gotten no response. At 8:15, I decided to call again, but it was so cold I didn’t want to pull off my face mask. I had a can-type bleat call in my pocket, and since it didn’t require me to uncover my face, I gave it a few turns.
I had little hope the call would work, not only because of the feeling that there just weren’t any deer around, but also because I’d never actually had a deer respond to that little can call before.
I had just put it back in my pocket when my luck changed.
I looked up and saw a deer coming directly at me along the ridge. I could tell it was a buck, but he was moving so fast that I didn’t have time to tell how big he was.
I raised my .243 Ruger and waited for him to stop, but he just kept coming. I decided to simulate the bleat with my mouth, and he stopped behind some trees and brush.
I guess he got nervous when he couldn’t see the deer that had made the calls, so he took off even faster, heading down off the side of the ridge. If he went much farther, he’d be gone, so I made another, louder mouth bleat.
Once again, the buck stopped again, so I took the shot. He dropped on the spot and never moved.
It turned out to be a nice, wide 8-pointer, the biggest deer I’d ever shot on the property. I took some pictures and called a friend to tell him the story.
The buck weighed 160 pounds dressed, and even with my friend and I pulling the cart, it took two hours to get him back out to the road.
The moral of this story is that even when it looks like the season will end and you’ll be eating tags instead of venison, don’t give up. You never know when something totally unexpected will happen and your season will be a success.
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