Day two of my Idaho whitetail hunt started with a cup of coffee brewed by my host, Monty, at 5 AM. By 6:30 I was on the way to his tree stand. It’s a covered two-man tree stand – very roomy for one.
I hung three scent wafers in bushes near the blind – tarsal gland scent.
From my perch, I had a good view of a stand of timber, which was somewhat cleared of brush. My host and I had walked the area the day before, bumping four does and two fawns. Buck sign was not found, no scrapes or rubs.
I enjoy stand hunting. My anticipation was high while waiting for a chance at my first ever whitetail. The wind was favorable, from my left to my right.
The morning wore on and I could hear turkeys yelping off to my right and slightly up the hill. Squirrels joined in.
“What are they squawking about,” I thought to myself, while wondering if the squirrel could smell me.
The morning became mid-morning. At about 10:15 AM I looked into the woods and a single deer appeared. It was standing down the hill in the shadows facing me about 70 yards away – about as far as I could see before the hillside dropped off into brush.
“Does it have horns?” I thought as I reached for my field glasses.
Slowly raising my glasses, I focused on the deer. It took me a minute to find him in the shadows.
A heavy antler beam stood out above his head. “He’s a shooter.”
I carefully placed the glasses back on top of my pack and got a good grip on my muzzleloader. “Can I get him in my sights,” I thought to myself, getting excited.
Looking at the deer through the open sight, I considered a shot. When I drew the hammer back it produced a slight click.
The buck’s eyes were riveted on my location – had he heard the click?
Or, maybe he got a whiff of me. That would be worse.
I sat and watched the buck and looked at him through the open sight.
Another deer appeared in the shadows to my left of the buck. I reached for the glasses again. Doe.
This was good. The buck was with a doe. I felt like my chances were improving. I fought off nervousness and told myself to stay calm.
Then the doe turned and walked back down the hill. The buck turned, lowered his head and quickly followed the doe.
“Is it over?” I thought to myself. “Did I squander my opportunity?”
I remained optimistic that they would return and after a few minutes, the buck appeared again, in almost the same spot as before. The doe and another deer also appeared in about the same spot they had stood previously.
I looked at the buck through my sight again. I could shoot, but it wouldn’t be a perfect opportunity. I decided to wait for a better shot.
The buck began to scratch his back – good. And then he reached down for a bite of something. He was comfortable.
The doe took a couple steps and laid down. My excitement was rising. Again I reminded myself to stay calm, which somehow helped.
The buck turned towards the doe and walked broadside towards her. I cocked the hammer again and followed the buck’s vital as he passed from tree to tree, never stopping in a spot where I had an open shot.
Then he turned and walked back to nearly where he had stood previously. Once he stopped directly behind a tree. No shot. Then he turned again and circled before lying down.
He was laying with his right front shoulder exposed to me.
“Should I shoot him lying down,” I asked myself looking at his shoulder from about 60 yards.
It was a very good opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up. I rested the “Bonecollector”muzzleloader on the cross-bar around the stand. Through the fiber-optic sight, I felt confidant.
The rifle was steady. The buck was calm. I squeezed the trigger.
BOOM. Smoke filled the air. In a moment it cleared enough to see he was down. No he was up and running, but he held his right leg high an indication of a good shot.
Then it was over.
My friend Monty joined me and we walked to the buck. The long wait for a whitetail buck was over and I was very pleased.