Although everything was going so smoothly that brisk November morning, there had been months of preparation up to that point. It had all started the very first weekend that I moved to Brookings, SD to start my freshman year of college. As soon as I was moved in I was out driving around looking for a spot to hunt. It didn’t take long before I found a spot close to town that looked great for ducks and deer. I soon had my trail camera and stand set up in what appeared to be a secluded area with plenty of deer sign. Checking my camera about two weeks later was like opening Christmas presents. There was a good 5x5 and he was even out in daylight. I started hunting whenever I found time, but things slowed down and I never saw any deer except when I was duck hunting.
After a frustrating night in the stand, I was ready to move my stand. During an evening hunt, I had rattled and was quietly waiting when I heard something coming in the trees and brush behind me. I could tell that whatever it was was within 20 yards. Then along came some blundering kid with his dog making all kinds of raucous. He walked 10 yards in front of me and never noticed me. About half an hour later he was back just as loud as ever. Not to my surprise, I never saw what was behind me in the brush.
The next time out I was reluctant to try a new spot along the edge of a cornfield. On my walk in, I realized I had forgotten my trigger release in my gun locker. I went and sat anyway figuring I’d shoot fingers if a nice buck came to within 20 yards. As I sat there watching the sunrise, a nice buck came walking out of the trees. As he walked past at 50 yards, I was really kicking myself for forgetting my trigger release. After he was gone, I immediately went and took my stand down and put it up along the cornfield close to where the buck came out of the trees. Sitting there the next few days I only saw a few does and a flock of 50-60 turkeys.
After returning to Brookings from the Nebraska rifle opener I was right back in the stand. Tuesday’s I didn’t have class until 1 so I was in the stand in the morning. Early on I saw a buck walking along the edge of the cornfield 150 yards to the north. When I grunted at him, all he did was turn and look, then kept on going east. As I sat there in disappointment that he left, my
mind was soon back to normal when a huge flock of turkeys came walking out of the trees only 50 yards to the south. Soon there were 3 does joining them. I sat there admiring them when out of nowhere, another nice buck walked past the does and into the trees. Grunting at him proved worthless as it only scared the does off. Sitting there wondering if I just ruined my entire hunt, I looked up to see the buck I first saw coming back in my direction. He was still a good 400 yards away, but he was coming in the right direction.
I grunted and rattled right away before he got too close and then waited as he disappeared in the cattails. Five minutes later there he was 150 yards away between two cedars, scanning the cornfield for does and danger. I bleated at him with my doe in estrus can and watched him start across the field. As he angled away from me, I gave him another bleat. Suddenly there he was at 40 yards and getting closer fast. My heart was racing as he was almost to my shooting lane. I drew back and waited as he took a few more steps. ”Meah,” I bleated at him and he stopped at 15 yards, staring up into the tree looking for what had just made that sound. THUMP! He turned and ran, the arrow sticking out of his shoulder. As he got to the other side of the cornfield he slowed and came to stop. As he stumbled in a circle, he fell to the ground dead. Excited as I was, I waited in my stand for what seemed like forever.
After gathering my things and crawling down I hurried to where he lay. As I walked up to him, my heart began to race even faster. I knew that this was definitely the biggest deer I had ever shot. On top of that he was my first South Dakota deer, and only my second archery deer. He would’ve been a 4x5, but after all the fights he had been through, he broke off both brow tines and his left G2 leaving him only a 4x2. Never the less, I was still super exited and more than happy with him considering I was hunting public land with stands set up only 200-300 yards apart across the whole property.
Now that the season is over, I am already excited for next year, wondering what made it through the season and hoping I’ll have a chance at them.