My Worst Season in quite a long time - Long Read

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Talk' started by muzzyman88, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    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.
     
  2. early in

    early in Grizzled Veteran

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    So, you think you had a crappy season? You know the old saying, "somebody always has it worse"? It's true! My father is 85 and bed ridden. I'm the only one he has to take care of him. I feed him, give him his meds, wash and change his cloths, wipe his crappy butt (literally), schedule home care nursing, and everything else involved with caring for someone who can't care for themselves. This is on a daily basis, much like being me awakened at all hours of the night for various reasons, mainly pain.

    That's just for starters. Now we can talk about how I had to cancel my long awaited Ohio rut hunt, and how I had to hunt the last week of Oct, instead of the first week of Nov, when I KNOW it's going on! Any hunts I was able to get in, I had to leave the woods an hour before dark (best time to be in the woods) to make sure I was home to feed my Dad his dinner. Talk about frustrating! I guess I'm done with my crying, but I just wanted you to know "somebody always has it worse".
     
  3. kb1785

    kb1785 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Sounds like you had a great season for seeing some good deer and getting them close enough for a shot. I have been in your shoes a few times by not being able to close out on what I would consider great opportunities under some of the craziest scenarios. Some of those times are hunts that I remember the most, maybe haunt me the most is a better way to put it. On a plus side some people go an entire season and never see the quality or quantity of deer that you have.
     
  4. elkguide

    elkguide Grizzled Veteran

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    What a great adventure you had this year.

    What do you have planned for this fall coming?

    Thanks for posting.
     
  5. Holt

    Holt Grizzled Veteran

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    Sounds like a great season to me! Use the intel you got this year and use it for next year to up your odds. We as bow hunters always have something to lean from ever sit. Congrats on the buck you got, Have any pics?
     
  6. Matt

    Matt Grizzled Veteran

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    Doesn't really seem like an awful season.
     
  7. Sota

    Sota Legendary Woodsman

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    I had a bad season too, it happens. This year was the first time in 6 years not filling my buck tag not much you can do other than say next season will be different.
     
  8. MGH_PA

    MGH_PA Moderator

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    Your season was better (and usually is) than most hunters get to experience in PA.

    All about perspective ;)

    Sent from my Turbo 2.
     
  9. MGH_PA

    MGH_PA Moderator

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    On a side note, I did the same thing with regard to morning hunting and have no regrets. First morning hunt was just before Halloween and I was 5yds from arrowing the biggest buck of my career.

    Sent from my Turbo 2.
     
  10. buckeye

    buckeye Grizzled Veteran

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    I think "worst" is a bit of an overstatement. Reading this my take is "frustrating" would perhaps be a better fit.

    "Nothing cleanses your soul like a good butt kicking." Consider your soul cleansed.
     
  11. chieffan

    chieffan Weekend Warrior

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    My first season after a 40+ year break due to work requirements. Have shoulder problem and a 45 lb compound was out of the question. Went to a crossbow. Made two big mistakes: Didn't get it sighted in good enough and didn't practice enough. Missed 2 doe during the morning. Can't shoot bucks with a crossbow in Iowa ? ? Then shotgun came and spooked the deer to no end. they are still that way but are starting to move in the evening in groups. Saw 9 last night strung out but closest was 40+ yd away and small brush and weeds between me and her. They didn't come the way I expected them to. They are going from their bedding area direct to a corn field by way of a CRP terrace. Have a blind set up on that route also so will be there hopefully tomorrow night. Have a South wind that is blowing right across my blind to their bedding area. -10 wind chill out there and can't handle that kind of cold any more.
     
  12. copperhead

    copperhead Grizzled Veteran

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    MuzzyMan thanks for sharing. Dude I think you had a great season. Minus the one wounded deer of course. Thats sucks there is no way around it, but like you said you have to move on. All of those encounters while frustrating was also exciting and a memory that you won't soon forget. On top of that if no one killed those bucks they are still around for this year. You had so many great experiences. Outside those experiences you have a chance for a repeat this year. Now lets see Houdini up close this year :tu:
     
  13. muzzyman88

    muzzyman88 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Thanks for the pep talk guys. All of you are right, its about perspective and the word frustrating fits more than worst.

    Some asked, here is a pick of the Missouri deer this year.
    IMG_1666.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  14. picman

    picman Die Hard Bowhunter

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    No time like the present to start auditioning new chairs.
     
  15. tynimiller

    tynimiller Legendary Woodsman

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    Frustrating to come so close just once, to be close multiple times is extremely frustrating but man you had a heck of a year and DIDN'T even eat buck tag soup....I say quit yer belly aching and get ready for 2017 showdown! :evilgrin:

    :tu:
     
  16. MGH_PA

    MGH_PA Moderator

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    Yep, I'm buying Steven Rinella's book to find a good recipe for tag soup.
     
  17. uncljohn

    uncljohn Weekend Warrior

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    there are a lot of guys on here who wish they had shot "a decent 130" nine pointer" this year. This just made me feel infinitely worse about my season. :bigcry:
     
  18. MGH_PA

    MGH_PA Moderator

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    I agree. :) If that was a bad season, he would probably sell all of his gear after having one like mine.

     
  19. DickensCPA

    DickensCPA Weekend Warrior

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    I feel ya. I've only seen 3 live deer on the hoof since the 2010 season. Had to sell a piece of cherry property in 2010 and everything went to hell in a handbasket since. New piece of property I've spent a fortune and finally saw two deer at 79 yds in Fall of 2015.

    Opening day of 2016 there was a doe bedded at the base of my ladder stand opening morning and never saw another.

    I hit one with my truck Sep 2014 and I get them on cam eating my wife's mums in the front lawn, otherwise I'd swear they went extinct.
     
  20. fletch920

    fletch920 Grizzled Veteran

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    I join the ranks of tag soup eaters this year also. I had a few very close calls on some good old bucks, but that last little bit of luck never materialized. The one redeeming quality to my season was passing some really exceptional 3 1/2 year olds that should be studs next year. Some of them were 150's class deer that should push 170's next year if they make it. I hunted a lot and had a lot of great sits with tons of buck activity, but just never had the right buck make a mistake. I'm already looking forward to next year!
     

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