The end of my deer hunting goals

My phone showed 4am. There were photos from the cell cameras.  With one eye open, I started scrolling and saw one of the big bucks.  He had been in the same spot days earlier and had made a 5 hour loop.  I had 3 hours to get in my stand.

I took two steps away from the truck and the world erupted around me.  The only thing louder than the crunching of deer running, was the beating of my heart. Several deep breaths later, I started back on the trail to the stand.  A few more steps and another deer jumped and ran.  Had it been the buck? I wasn’t far from where we had been.  I passed by my camera at 5:05am; three hours since the buck had been there.

Don’t Do Rodents

There is something about hearing mice scratching inches from my face that freaks me out.  The woods were quiet around me and it was still dark.  But the rodents were active.  If I wiggled in my seat, it would move the stand enough to get the noises to stop.  I hoped that I wasn’t wiggling enough to be noticed by any passing deer.  This went on for almost two hours before I saw them jump from the doorway; flying squirrels. Urgh!

My Favorite Hunting Sign

Last year, I watched a barred owl hunt for almost 30 minutes before the big buck arrived in my shooting lane.  On this particular morning, the owl sat two trees away in the food plot watching for breakfast. He flew from the ground to the tree several times.  As the owl flew into the woods, it looked like he was making an arch.  Standing under that arch, in the back of the field, was a buck.  His antlers were above his ears.

What Just Happened?

The buck looked around and flicked his tail. I put my phone down on the seat next to me and lifted the gun.  I waited.  The buck was walking across the field, getting closer.  I watched through the scope and finally stopped him.  He looked like the bucks on the TV shows, posing before being shot. I squeezed the trigger and watched him hunch and run. I heard leaves rustling.  My hands started shaking.  I picked up my phone and sent two texts, “I think I just shot my target buck” and to dad I wrote “I got antlers.” It was 7:33am.

Dad drove the truck to the stand and I climbed down.  I threw my backpack into the truck and we started walking to where I had shot the buck.  The leaves were dry and crunchy. There was no blood. Dad started pushing the leaves aside with his boots. Still no blood.  I started having flashbacks to last year. We walked along the edge of the woods, desperate for a drop of red.

Turning down the trail into the woods, I was frantic.  Dad looked unsure.

“That’s a deer!” I said pointing to the brown/gray mass on the side of the trail. But I could only see the top of two tines.  He was against a small tree, half hidden by a stump.  A wave of relief swept over me.


We counted the tines. Eight. Eight incredible points.  The one deer I had been after for years.  An 8 point buck.  Dad and I hugged and celebrated. I looked up the photo from the trail camera almost six hours earlier.  It was the same buck.  It was sheer luck that I had patterned this buck and it worked out.

I made a double lung shot but there were only small traces of blood in the trail were he had turned.

In typical small-town life, we paraded him around in the back of the truck, stopping to show some friends of mine downtown and running into the local newspaper reporter.  I gave them the highlights of the hunt and how I had needed an 8-point buck since I had shot everything else from a spike to a 10-point.

It is definitely a hunt that I will never forget!




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Meet The Author

Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.