My binoculars confirmed the distant movement as a much-anticipated whitetail deer. Upon close examination, it was identified as a fawn buttonbuck of the year.
Even in the historical hard pressured deerwoods of Michigan, everybody knows that these little boogers are considered to be the dumbest deer in the woods. And rightly so, for compared to older deer that have survived the gungho army of orange clad backstrappers for a season or two, we figure these youngsters just haven’t figured out their magical, mystical escape talents yet, and oftentimes occasionally blunder into trouble during the hunting season.
Well, even at more than 100 yards away, paralleling a heavy treed fencerow dissecting two cornfields, this little future buck was stopping every few feet, scanning every which way, flinching at the slightest bird flutter, and eventually veered off into the security of the corn as his sixth survival sense kicked in and he instinctively avoided the well concealed bowhunter in the giant, leafy oak tree yonder.
I feel extremely blessed to be an American bowhunter, experiencing and celebrating the unique and powerful healing forces of nature as a conscientious participant. Equal to the joys and deeply fulfilling dynamics of the hard-earned close encounters with always fascinating wildlife, are the nerve wracking, mind-boggling frustrations of losing the well thought out ambush game to the critters’ amazing defense mechanisms and senses.
Surely such incredible challenges keep us trying and loving it, but bowhunting deer in the upper Midwest can certainly test a bowhunter’s patience after many failures in succession to connect.
I swear, my Michigan deer are the spookiest, most alert, cagey creatures God has ever designed to drive a bowhunter batty.
And of course, the more difficult the task, the more rewarding the success.
When I first hunted the great Republic of Texas many years ago, I literally couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. In all my many years of bowhunting, I had never once encountered such relaxed, calm, easy going whitetails. I was certain I had died and gone to deer heaven!
Hunting treestands and groundblinds in the Hill Country, the deserty South Texas Brush Country and even some vast, remote open grounds in far West Texas, these deer often seemed oblivious to the hunter’s presence.
In Michigan, and I might add on our SpiritWild Ranch in Central Texas, the deer won’t take a step without scouring their surroundings for danger and constantly fidgeting. They are on non-stop hyper alert for sneaky guitarplayers in hiding with sharp sticks. Their survival defense mechanisms are uncanny.
I am writing this here NugeBlog during week 16 of my deerseason in the phenomenal deerzone of mid-Texas heading towards the Pan Handle West of Dallas/Fort Worth not far from Abilene Texas.
Last night I arrowed a great mature 8-point stud as he casually strolled past me while I was urinating outside the blind!
Go ahead, read that last sentence again if you will, and try to imagine such a scenario. The eternal sea of wind-turbines were spinning and cranking away everywhere and the breezy wind was blowing straight to him as I frantically tried to end my pee.
As careful as I could possibly squirm back into my Double Bull blind, I carefully sat down, grabbed my Mathews and prepared for the shot. There is no way in the history of Michigan or SpiritWild Ranch deerhunting, or I suspect where any American deerhunter has hunted, that a human could dare get away with such movement with deer only 25 yards away.
But this buck took his good old time sniffing and snorting the ground where the does had been for the last two hours, and when he turned broadside, I gave it to him.
I have also encountered this wonderful phenomena in Illinois, fortunate enough to have hunted farms bordering the bizarre no hunting allowed Illinois Forest Preserves where the overpopulation of deer have lived their entire lives experiencing zero pressure from the hikers, picnickers and birdwatchers that have taught them to accept human intrusion without fear.
The late, great Fred Bear had noted long ago after hunting all the legendary game fields of the world, that if you can kill a Michigan whitetail with the bow and arrow, you can kill any big game anywhere.
Deerhunters from across the nation head to Texas each winter to experience the variations in deer behavior to be found in the Lone Star State.
I’m not telling you that all the deer in Texas are a pushover, not by a longshot. But there are pockets of deer where they just don’t act like the deer we hunt back home, and if you’ve never experienced a Texas deerhunt, you should put forth the effort to secure a chance to do so.
Me, I mostly torture myself on my traditional deergrounds in Michigan and Texas, and though it may sound like I am complaining, I truly cherish the ups and downs, give and takes of ultra-challenging deerhunting with my bow and arrow.
I’ve never been short on backstraps, but sometimes it’s a long, long road through deerhell to get there. And I love every crazy, wild moment of it.
The best deerhunting to be found on planet earth is where you can get a chance to hunt deer! Go for it and thank God every time.