This will be our 5th hunting season on our property. We have neighbors with property anywhere from 10 acres to 800 acres. Some are hunted; others are not. Every year we have planted food plots and did what we could to make it a better hunting property. We have had around 35 different bucks showing up on camera in the past 5 years. I have passed on multiple year in a half bucks. Unfortunately, the neighbor allows hunters on his land who would shoot everything, litterally. They finally moved and that kicked everyone off. Funny how people who don’t actually live on the property really don’t care what lives and what doesn’t.
During the beginning of November (date on the pictures are wrong) a buck showed up on my trail camera but only would show me the right side of his antlers. If he had the width and age, I thought I might shoot him but I wanted to see him first. My goals for this property were 3.5 years old. I know they exist on the neighbor’s property due to my “gassin and glassing” during the summer months.
My first encounter with him was on a cold, rainy November 11th. I was in my ladder stand about 100 yards off the food plot. He walked into the food plot and was headed right towards me following a doe. I quickly got ready knowing it was him. I didn’t get to study him because we had some thick stuff between us. The doe walked downwind of me 20 yards in a spot the deer normally don’t go. I could see his feet but no antlers. The doe froze and kept trying to get me to move. She knew something was not right as my scent blew down into her face. She stayed like that for 20 minutes. It became dark and I lost track of him and eventually her.
He showed up again the next night but quickly disappeared.
During the gun opener I was up north hunting. My mom thought she possibly seen him on the 16th but wasn’t sure. On the 18th, she called and said it was him. He was feeding in the plot with the doe and fawns. Here I was hunting other bucks when a big buck was on our property. Maybe it’s not a good idea knowing what is near your stand when your not in it. I asked her how wide he was and how big. Being the non-hunter, she had no idea. I would have to find out for myself.
On November 20th, I was sitting in our tower stand when "Him" first showed up. This was the 5th encounter in 10 days we had seen him. Right away I noticed he didn’t have the width I was looking for. Since I have not killed a deer this year my mind went nuts with the pros and cons of killing him. I watch him walk across the field giving me an easy 50 yards shot. I kept thinking I was nuts for passing on him. He went over to the rubbing tree and started rubbing. It was like I had the devil on one side of me and an angel on the other. In the end, I talked myself out of shooting him for one fact. My goal for the property was a 3.5-year-old buck. They have the food and land to do so. Shooting him would only knock another potential out for the years following.
After that encounter I posted a screen shot of him on “Great Lakes Edge” Facebook page and my Instagram account (ChromeseekerDan). Everyone thought I was crazy for passing on him. At times I thought I was as well. However, if I had shot him, the story would have been over. He would have never been close to his full potential. I would have made a European mount rather then have a shoulder mount made. I also believe this may be a fawn who has used our property as his home range which would be a first. Before us, the owner shot everything he had seen not allowing any bucks to grow. With him and the hunters next door gone I think he has a really good chance of surviving.
After all our work the past couple years, it was nice to see something decent on our property. Our work has started to finally pay off. To me passing on this buck is a sign that were doing something right. Its a good feeling knowing that there might possibly be a really nice buck out there next fall. On our property I go out there to learn and make our 12 acres the best possible in the area. If I don't kill a buck this year it will be ok. I had one of the best years ever in the woods between our property and state land. To me killing a deer is not the signs of a great season. Just being out is what makes it worth it. I can only hope there is a future with this buck next fall. Having that memory of that encounter will encourage me to work more and hopefully, the story will continue next fall.
…To Be Continued!