It just dawned on me recently that I haven't posted much on here in the last 6 months or so. Between kids, career and a multitude of other activities, it seems I haven't had a great deal of time for anything, except hunting. This is just a vent on what turned out to be the most frustrating season I've had in a very long time. But I guess there may be some lessons to be had from this, so I thought I'd share. October Opening day came and went and I got a chance for an evening sit. Now, I made up my mind this year that I was going to change up how I hunt early season, only hunting evenings until October 25, unless something suggested I do otherwise. The very next week, I had a funeral service to attend for a cousin. After services, I had an afternoon to get back in the stand. I was in doe mode, and made a b-line for my favorite early season acorn flat. The same flat I took a surprise shooter eight out of in early season last fall. I got into the stand around 2:30 PM and waited for my freezer queens to show up. Nope, not a one. But I had two small bucks come into the flat, feed and work by me. But there was a third deer that lagged behind them in some thick stuff. I watched it through the binos until it materialized into another buck... a VERY good 10 pointer. I was in perfect position and just had to wait him out. He slowly worked to my left. "perfect I said to myself" as he was headed right into a perfect 20 yard opening. I slowly started putting pressure on the string to come to full draw when all of a sudden, he turned to his right, staying in the thick stuff and walked straight away to the top of a little bank some 70 yards away. He then proceeded to rake a tree, lick a few branches and do the usual "buck stuff". I'm standing there, watching this, not believing he did this. Then, another shooter shows up with him.. and another. Three, 130"+ bucks, 70 yards away, with the biggest, the ten right in the middle. Darkness falls and I leave. Now, it stung a bit to let a deer like him slip out of my grasp, but hey, its hunting and its only the first week. I decided to nickname this deer "Houdini". Fast forward two weeks. We were in the midst of a crazy wind/rain storm from the remnants of a hurricane that came up the coast. I didn't hunt the morning as it was too windy and I was sticking to my guns. Afternoon came and I decided to sit in a blind I setup to get my kids into the woods with me (which I did several times early on). This blind is not more than 60 yards from where I first laid eyes on Houdini a few weeks ago. Its setup in a spot on a ridge with an old logging road to its left. The ridge area, we logged off about 10 years ago and its now paying off huge as a prime bedding area. The deer, especially bucks have a habit of coming up out of the bedding area and doing one of two things. Walk the edge of the road, past the blind at 10 yards, or cross the road at the blind at 20. Perfect for me and perfect for the kids to experience a deer up close and personal. So, in doe mode yet, I crawled in. 6:30PM and two does come blasting out the thicket in front and to the right. They ran across the road at 20 yards, never giving me any opportunity. 15 minutes later, from where they came from, Houdini. I knew as soon as I saw him through the binos who he was and I knew exactly what he would do. Sure enough, he worked up to the road at 60 yards and started walking to me on the edge. I said to myself "wholly crap, I'm gonna kill him at 10 yards". I readied myself and waited for him to appear on the road in front of the blind. Then, there he was. He slowly worked to me. 60, 50 and at 40 yards he paused. I had a great draw opportunity at 30 and his next steps would put him at 20 or less. Then he performed is next trick. He started winding the air. "crap!" I said to myself. "How the [email protected]!l is he winding me?!" The wind was good for this sit, but it must be swirling a bit. Then he started staring right at the blind. Now, I was situated in the back half of the blind with all of the back windows completely closed up. "He can't possibly be seeing me in here?!". He then turned around and made circle around me. I had him once at 40, but it was simply too breezy to take that shot. Out of my grasp again. This blind was setup in early September and brushed in well into a big blown down pine. I replayed and tried to figure out what happened. My guesses are he winded me a bit, and also that when I got into the blind, not trusting that shoot through mesh, I opened enough front and side windows to give me shots. Perhaps the blind looked different to him? Rookie blind hunter mistake I guess. Two week later I left for my annual Missouri trip. Warm temps made the rut trickle along and our best hunting was morning with afternoons very slow. Day 5 and I found myself watching a huge shooter 8 who walked around me, but returned an hour later. I was able to get drawn on him and when I got him sideway and stopped, left it rip. For whatever reason, luck was not on my side, the deer spun, arrow sticking out of the front side of his shoulder. Something just did not look right at the shot... the arrow did something strange, it kicked before reaching the deer. Turns out, in the heat of it all, I missed seeing some small limbs and green briar in front of him and it deflected. I was crushed, having wounded my first deer in probably 15 years. We recovered the arrow that came out 20 feet from the shot site and pulled out of there. 3" of penetration at best. Came back six hours later and tracked tiny spots of blood for approximately 100 yards, grid searched then and retired to the lodge at night fall. Two days later, still stinging from that experience, I arrowed a decent 130" nine pointer with a lopsided rack. I was proud of the deer and happy to get something to go my way finally. Back home in PA, and back on the hunt for Houdini. Rifle season comes to town here and I went back into where I've seen him, hoping he may tie a few does up in the area. No dice, but I ended up seeing almost 100 deer the first week. I passed on a nice eight that Friday. I just couldn't let myself "settle" this season. But, I learned from the rifle hunters on our property that Houdini slipped away not once, but twice from two different hunters. One guy shot the wrong buck while waiting for him to clear into an opening and the second took a kid with him who shot a respectable little eight pointer, only to have Houdini bound off after the shot as he was with the smaller buck. So he elusiveness and luck, have started to grow a bit of a reputation. A week before our late season, which comes in the day after Christmas, I hung a camera, hoping to find him back in the area after the rut craze. Sure enough, one day after I hung it, I got multiple pictures. Its on! After Christmas, I hunted the blind and several vicinity stands pretty religiously in the evenings. Nothing. It was unseasonably warm for late December and I just knew it was going to take a frigid weather to move deer. So today, January 7th, I went back to the blind at 2PM. It was 14 degrees when I left the truck. Climbed into the blind and got settled. 20 minutes later, I hear something walking behind and to left of the blind. Na, squirrel or bird. Then I hear it closer. I look out the window and there, at 25 yards comes a buck. Not Houdini, but a whole lot bigger. "Crap!". He was on a course to cross the road like they always do here. I went for the bow and was moving a bit to better position myself, I had no time. You ever buy one of those cheap Ameristep chairs you see at Walmart? Don't. This chair began making the ungodly creaking noises. He spiked the breaks and stared at the blind. Game over. So what did I learn in the late season. EVERYTHING is noisy. If something has the potential to make noise, it will do so times 10 when its 13 degrees outside. As a season I learned this. No matter how good you get at this and how many banner seasons you have, eventually the shoe will drop and you'll have one of those years where nothing goes right. I also learned, actually reminded is a better word, that eventually, a bad shot, an unseen limb, etc., will happen, don't beat yourself to death over it and learn. The last few years have been very good to me and it was just my turn I guess. This was a very tough season on me. Three great shooter buck in bow range and nothing to show for it. I'm deflated and honestly, glad the season is coming to a close for me. I need to step away from the season and regroup. But, on the bright side, I did learn some things and had a very successful year in terms of putting more big deer in my lap than I have. I attribute this to the change up to only hunting evenings for the better part of the whole season. Its been very frustrating, but I'm already looking forward to three potential studs that will have another year to grow. Looking forward to cameras over the winter and trying to find their sheds in a couple months. Thanks for reading and sorry it was so long. I just wanted to capture it all and share with everyone. Hopefully someone will take something from this.