Is it better to be lucky than good?
Mowing, plowing, harrowing and planting plots are some of my favorite things to do. To me, they signify the start of one of my most favorite times of the year…HUNTING season!
Each year before the season arrives we are in the woods getting everything ready. Mowing down last year’s food plots, turning the plots over and prepping it to be planted with this year’s crop. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy the time in the woods. It’s also a good time to start scouting by noticing travel patterns of the deer and any new deer rubs created by bucks stripping the velvet from their racks. Finding a nice rub near your stand is always a moment of excitement for me. We also start putting out cameras during this time of the year to see the quality of the bucks on the lease. I’ve heard someone call the gathering of the cards from these cameras as a hunter’s Christmas. I would have to agree with them.
This year it seems like we have a lot of bucks on the lease and two or three that are nice. I have my sights set on a good nine point that we have had pictures of for the last three years. He isn’t a real symmetrical buck but one with a lot of character. He seems to come through one of my stands pretty regular but always at night. In the part of Florida we live, the rut usually comes in during our muzzleloader season so I am hoping that will be my opportunity to catch him slipping up.
Now I would love to tell you that I planned and executed the perfect technical hunt. You know the one where I did everything exactly like the TV shows us hunters love to watch. The ones where the wind was just right and my scent control was perfect. Fortunately for me, I believe that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and this hunt was the epitome of that statement.
It was the first week of muzzleloader season and this hunt started with a call to my father. I asked if he wanted to meet me at the woods to go hunting after I got off work. Although he wasn’t feeling well that day he reluctantly agreed to go with me. The weather had finally cooled down some and I was excited to go when I wasn’t sweating through the whole hunt. We arrived at the woods at 5:30 PM and I quickly jumped into my coveralls. The wind was out of the north west which was perfect for the bind where the big nine point had been coming through. After checking in we went to our respective stands and I obviously chose the nine-point blind. I walked the 300 yards down the woods road to my blind and quickly entered it. I had barely got settled in the blind when I looked up to see two does run through my shooting lane to the west. This was exactly what I was hoping for. Surely these does we’re being pushed by a buck (hopefully the nine) and he will be trailing in just a moment. I reached for my muzzleloader and readied it in the blind window. Scanning the woods behind the food plot and watching the shooting lane. I was hopeful to see just a glimpse of movement. It felt like an hour I waited but was only about five minutes. Please let there be a buck following.
As I set there waiting I heard a truck slow down and stop on the road where I parked my vehicle. Why would someone stop out there? I starting thinking about the vehicle on the road and remember I didn’t lock my vehicle. Why did I forget that today? Is there anything in there someone could get? YES!! As I set there waiting for the buck I couldn’t quit thinking about my unlocked vehicle. Should I risk leaving the blind with a buck encounter eminent. Should I risk losing my valuables? Ultimately I decided it was best to go and lock my vehicle. It was still early in the hunt and I just couldn’t stand knowing I left my vehicle unlocked. I set my rifle down inside the blind and walked the 300 yards to the truck and locked it and walked back to the blind. As I reached the blind, I looked into the food plot and a buck was standing in the middle of the food plot!! I kept an eye on that buck as I entered the blind and another larger buck appeared beyond him. The door to the blind sounded like I was ripping Velcro open and I knew both bucks would be gone by the time I got in. Surprisingly the little buck was steady smelling the ground like a hound dog on the trail and the larger buck was focused on a tree on the right-hand side of the plot. I didn’t have any time to waste if I was going to get the larger buck. Without hesitation, I picked up my muzzleloader and thrust it out the window as the big buck started working a scape at the end of the food plot. At this point I lost track of where the little buck was and I was concentrating on calming down and making a good shot when the big buck walked back out. All of this is happening in a matter of seconds and only about 50 yards in front of me. Another second past and the buck turned and walked across the food plot again. I put the cross hairs on him and did a quick rack check and there was no question in my mind that this was a shooter for our woods. In a fraction of a second the muzzleloader roared to life and bellowed out a huge cloud of smoke choking out the view I had of the food plot. Confident I made a good shot I sat and let the smoke clear. Still trembling from the excitement and adrenaline I sat back in the chair to regain my composure. I wanted to start making calls but knew it would be premature until I could see the buck on the ground. I waited for about thirty minutes (felt like two hours) before exiting the blind and walking down to the end of the food plot to check for blood. As I am walking down the plot I saw the buck dead in the woods two different times. The first time it turned out to be a stump and the second time a clump of bushes. As I reached the end I looked around on the ground for signs that I made a good shot and readied myself for trailing. The ground was obviously turned up from the buck exiting the food plot and as my eyes turned in the direction of travel I looked up and there he was, twenty yards inside the tree line. Once again my heart pounded as I approached the buck. Although it wasn’t the big nine I was hoping for it was a very fine eight point. Now it was time to start bragging.
This story was probably about three seconds from being about the one that got away instead of about one of the best bucks I have ever harvested.
All the planning in the world can’t beat just having a little luck and I was definitely lucky on this one.
Has luck ever worked in your favor during a hunt?