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1.) Bob Peck - 11/28/2018
REMINDS YOU THAT YOU DON'T.

I've hunted the same private land in Augusta County, VA for 12 years. A rural real estate friend of mine who helped my family find our first home in VA knew I was starting a new job at Parker Bows and this place was literally right down the street.

My standing offer to the last two landowners has been [I]"I'll keep the trespassers at bay, clear trails, keep access road clear and improve things like drainage to the pond and brush hogging if you'll let me hunt".[/I]

Needless to say after 12 years I believe I know every square inch. What was once 120 acres is now down to 70 as parcels were sold and homesteaders moved in. Still ... I've been paid more in outdoor experiences, venison and contemplative relaxation than the hours behind a chainsaw or tractor. I can't tell you the number of products that have been tested on that property.

I've used a combination of Plot Watchers, trail cams and surveillance to reasonably pattern the place. In year 2 or 3, I put an arrow through a respectable buck I had mounted but since that time I've only captured a few like it on trail cams and only an occasional glimpse through a chance encounter. The surrounding neighbors are all "brown is down" so over the years I've erased any hope of a shot opportunity on respectable buck #2 but still I hunt and hunt and hunt some more. My reward has been a bunch of venison to donate to help pay it forward.

My last hunt started with a conversation with God. Not a prayer exactly but more like a nagging. I was beat. I have been hunting hard since our Oct 6th archery opener. Two (2) does down and no tracking required. Definitely no complaints. The mast crop was awesome but not a single pic of a buck, any buck, even a button buck off 12 cameras and two (2) plot watchers. This was not the norm and I braced.

Back to this hunt last week.

It was cold for Virginia. In the low 20's but no wind. It has turned to rifle season which is only 2 weeks so time is limited. I was comfortably warm buried deep within the covers. [I]"If you don't get up and go now, you know and I know you won't go."[/I] Yep. I said to myself, he's right. Four snooze buttons later I was up.

The usual internal debate and Q&A begins after that first cup of coffee. What's the wind direction? How much effort do you want to expend? Are you going to sit all day or just do a morning hunt? Maybe you'll split the difference and sit in the morning and still hunt till dark? 30-06? .308? .50 cal muzzleloader? .32 cal Model 94? Sheesh. Sometimes I set my own head spinning. The 30-06 my Dad gave me won. He's been ailing and I'm feeling this time next year he won't be with us anymore. The rifle is a reminder in my hands the hours he spent teaching me and rousting me from a comfortable sleep.

Now ... which stand? [I]"You need to go far today. All the way to the end of the property, follow the fence line down into the ravine halfway and hunt that stand you haven't been to since you checked it this summer."[/I] There was my answer but again it was a conversation with God. I can't explain how I know this. I just know. I asked the same 'ol questions of myself which are usually settled in my head on the way in, in the dark and usually fraught with ongoing debate even when I'm in the stand. This was different. I was told where to go and I went.

I'm up at 3:30, on the road by 4:30, on scene by 5:30, geared up and in the stand at 6 a.m. with sunrise scheduled for 7:05.

I've got the gear down to a science ... the Under Armour, the Merino wool and Arctic Shield were doing their job nicely. I was happy to be looking at life through the new Nikon Monarch 5's (10x42) I've wanted for years but just couldn't get close with 1 kid thru college and 2 kids still in college and surprise bills that come out of nowhere. Thanks to an Amazon gift card the path to these binos happened.

At 7:30 I'm in my Monarch 5 world and loving the difference from the Bushnell's I've had around my neck for many years. "Life is good." I say to myself. The response I heard plain as day was [I]"Yes it is. Yes it is."[/I]

The beast below and on the other side of the ravine came into view and ranged at 180 yards. I'm a die-hard bowhunter and while I'm comfortable with firearms I'm not Mr. Optics. I've blown many a shot just racking in the focus to get a tighter view of the shot placement. It's taken years but I'm learning to spot a distinctive tree-scape with one eye with the other in the optic *while* I rack in the focus.

I lost the beast in the scope and got on the binos. There? Is that him? What the?! It's a big fat 'ol doe. Did I not have enough coffee? Was I seeing bone through the scope that wasn't there through the binos?

The doe casually browsed down the side of the ravine across from my stand divided by a swollen creek. For just a brief moment I heard the sound of water combined with the sensation of my heart beating through the layers of insulation. Not a stitch of wind, just a piercing silence. Almost a tinnitus piercing silence.

Browsing, browsing, browsing without a care in the world. I relaxed and waited. I got back in the scope and panned the vicinity of the chubs.
Rhythmic streams of hot breathe met the 20 degree air. Whoa. Wait. O.K He poked his head out from the brush and filled the field of view inside the scope. Whoa baby! Just when you think you know everything God reminds you that you don't. [I]"This isn't going to be easy." [/I] but I knew God was not talking about the shot. 185 yards through the range finder wasn't exactly a chip shot but definitely a comfortable distance and clear line of fire. He was talking about the drag as if the deed was already done. Some kind of weird time/space thing.

I braced the gun in a perfectly placed "Y" branch extending from the trunk. Got the breathing under control and waited for the broadside. There it is. I feel like I'm on camera for a hunting show but it's just me. When I watch those shows I usually whisper to the TV, Shoot! Shoot. Except in this reality there is No rush. No worries just a perfectly smooth trigger pull and a drop straight down. No tracking required. There. I listened to the Man, followed his instructions and for the first time in my 60 years I didn't argue. I just went with it.

The beast was down at 7:40 a.m. and would not be out of the woods until 3 p.m. that afternoon. I later found out he dressed out at 206 lbs.

I dragged him down one ravine, floated him across a thigh high deep creek, up and over a barbed wire fence, up and over several blown downs, briefly contemplated a straight shot up the other side of the ravine and decided to follow the creek. I reasoned the drag would be longer by at least 1/2 a mile but the logging road up from the bottom would be less of an incline. Rather than carry the weight of my pack and rifle I climbed to the top of the ravine's edge and dismounted there returning back down to the bottom with only my handgun and a drag rope.

I'm not kidding when I say this ... several times I literally laid down on the forest floor and waited for my heart to recover. It became crystal clear how it was possible for my hunting brothers and sisters die of heart attacks. I wondered how long I could do this and I don't mean drag the deer. No. There was never any doubt I would get that beast out of there. I wondered at 60 if this was a silent sign my days were numbered. It was 3-4' at a pull for nearly 2 miles. I kept telling myself "You can do this." For once I had no commitments and no pressure. I dragged on for hours taking more and more breaks the closer I got.

[I]"This is what you wanted, right?" "This is the deer you said you'd never find on this property right?" "This is the deer you would never have seen if you had your way in that cozy bed and now you're whining about how hard this drag is?" Youve logged hundreds of hunts on this land, you say you know every square inch, you tell friends there are no surprises here but yet every 3-4 you advance there he is. a surprise at the end of the drag rope. Are you finally a believer now? Huh? [/I]

Im not making this stuff up. This is what I heard. Believers will know what I speak of. Non-believers will just call it intuition or call me crazy. I'm fine with whatever but I know what I know.

I looked back at the beast. In fact, I couldn't stop looking back. I smiled broadly every time.

I laid my head down in the leaves and took a nap. For how long I dont know but I was certain anyone who might have seen me laying there would assume I was dead. I was fully alive and fully comfortable a mere 220 yards from the summit. I had a flashback to my days as a high school track star and one-time state mile record holder. Back in the day, waaaaay back in the day, I used to be able to summon a kick and that was definitely called for now. I pushed through it and renewed my grunt to the summit. Gotta embrace the suck.

Hallelujah Sweet Jesus! I made it in more ways than one.

Ironically, just the day before this hunt I said to the same friend who helped me secure access to the property that if I managed one day to kill the deer of a lifetime Id give up hunting. I mean, what more was there to accomplish? He said, No you wont. You have grandchildren to teach and besides I know and he knows (pointing upward) you need to be out there. Hes right.




2.) Jon - 11/28/2018
Atta boy ol friend, that's a gorgeous buck! Congrats and thank you for an incredible story.
3.) Bob Peck - 11/28/2018
[QUOTE=Jon;57379]Atta boy ol friend, that's a gorgeous buck! Congrats and thank you for an incredible story.[/QUOTE]

Thanks Jon. Coming from you that means allot.

I've never been a horn hunter even though the whole industry revolves around inches of bone or more to the point that moment we all dream of which is coming into close contact with many inches of bone. This was not a 30 yard bow shot. This was an antiseptic 180 yard unfair advantage I was all to happy to utilize. It's this story that's more important to me than the rack. Honest.

There was a time a few years back when I came within 15 yards of a 170 class buck. I was wading knee deep in a briskly flowing South Anna River (more like a creek really) going one way trying to be all stealthy into a new area. When I stopped to listen and check GPS coordinates I still heard splashing. I remember thinking if it was a deer I stood ZERO chance with the bow in my hand. The thought never crossed my mind to nock an arrow. This buck was also in the creek navigating past me in the opposite direction and on the opposite bank. I hugged the muddy walls of the river bank which was at least 4-5 feet taller than me. I did my best impression of the root ball to the tree extending above me. At that point I couldn't see what was making the splashing sound and for all I knew it was a beaver or a raccoon.

I did my best impression of a root ball trying to blend into the exposed roots of the tree towering above. Then he rounded the bend also in the water but 15 yards away on the opposite bank traveling in the opposite direction. If I'd had a firearm it would of been a no-brainer done deal. Such was the exact same thought on this last hunt. Neither buck ever saw me. The 170 in the South Anna River and I passed like two ships in the night. Wow, what an animal!
4.) Swamp Fox - 11/29/2018
Very, very nice buck! Congratulations.

I love the smell of a 180-yard not-unfair advantage in the morning. It smells like ... victory.

I think anyone who has bow-hunted either exclusively or near-exclusively as l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶h̶a̶r̶d̶ enthusiastically as most of us have gets a little satisfaction from that kind of shot, even if some won't admit it. Hell, if deer had any more advantages we'd all throw up our hands, walk down to the river, and convert to rabbit hunting.

'Round here, that 170 buck would be technically wearing a cloak of invincibility, as it is illegal to shoot a deer with any part of its body in the water in SC, or swimming or in water above its knees in NC. [Narrator: "I say, I say *[I]technically[/I]*, son! (Boy's about as sharp as a bowling ball, you know." ] Last I knew, Virginia had no such rule, but a few for hunting from boats, if I remember. I'll bet that buck used that path and its crossings on a regular basis. Did you ever try to set up on him?

Exit question: Next deer you get that far from the vehicle---Are you gonna go get a cart or quarter him on the spot?

:wave:
5.) Bob Peck - 11/29/2018
[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;57381]Very, very nice buck! Congratulations. [/QUOTE]
Thank you Chris.

[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;57381]Did you ever try to set up on him?[/QUOTE]
Many times. Found his bedding area and the general layout of his kingdom on the edge of a swamp but never, ever saw him again. Not a single picture. He just vanished.

[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;57381]Are you gonna go get a cart or quarter him on the spot? [/QUOTE]
Funny you should mention a cart. I've been meaning to get a deer cart for years. On this particular hunt I seriously pushed myself waaay past the pain threshold. As I said, this drag helped me understand how hunters, especially old-out-of-shape hunters like me, have heart attacks.
6.) Jon - 11/29/2018
[QUOTE=Bob Peck;57383]


Funny you should mention a cart. I've been meaning to get a deer cart for years. On this particular hunt I seriously pushed myself waaay past the pain threshold. As I said, this drag helped me understand how hunters, especially old-out-of-shape hunters like me, have heart attacks.[/QUOTE]

This is exactly why I have a 4 wheeler. I don't use it to hunt, just retrieve animals. Prior to owning a wheeler, I would choose to kill/not kill based on my distance from the truck. Seemed unproductive so I bought a wheeler and have since had one. You should extend your hunting and life by getting a dragging aid my friend.
7.) DParker - 11/29/2018
[QUOTE=Jon;57384]You should extend your hunting and life by getting a dragging aid my friend.[/QUOTE]

I have one of those. He's 26 years old, healthy and strong.

Congrats on the outstanding buck there Mr. Peck, as well as surviving the retrieval.
8.) Bob Peck - 11/29/2018
[QUOTE=Jon;57384]This is exactly why I have a 4 wheeler. I don't use it to hunt, just retrieve animals. Prior to owning a wheeler, I would choose to kill/not kill based on my distance from the truck. Seemed unproductive so I bought a wheeler and have since had one. You should extend your hunting and life by getting a dragging aid my friend.[/QUOTE]

LOL!! Hardy har har! :laugh:

I have one kid still in college, one in grad school with those expenses running parallel with a random series of Bank of Dad interest free loan requests married to the inevitable but unpredictable crisis (busted washer machine, tires for one of 5 cars I maintain) I would most surely love to have a 4-wheeler. But then ... oh wait ... I'd need a truck (any 'ol truck) to either tow it or put it in the bed ... oh wait ... that's right I can't use the 4-wheeler on Federal land or any of the "pick-a-spot" Google Earth hunts which around these Blue Ridge Mountains tend to be tectonic plates.

As I said in my story it took years to find the opening to buy the Nikon binos and that only happened because my mother-in-law gave me a $50 Amazon gift card. Sooooo, my friend, the middle ground is springing for a deer cart before my heart blows up trying to get the next one out.

On the plus side the first-responders can use the cart to get my fat a$$ out when I hit the EPIRB. I'll even strap myself in while I wait or just hunt with a note pinned to my jacket "I'm dead. Use the cart."
9.) Bob Peck - 11/29/2018
[QUOTE=DParker;57385]I have one of those. He's 26 years old, healthy and strong.[/QUOTE]

That's funny right there! :laugh:

I text messaged my many friends (both of them) and got a "no can do". It was that exact moment that I knew I was screwed.

[QUOTE=DParker;57385]Congrats on the outstanding buck there Mr. Peck, as well as surviving the retrieval.[/QUOTE]

Thank you sir. That day, that hunt, that deer was a pure blessing. The drag was not.
10.) Swamp Fox - 11/30/2018
When I was more regularly hunting in the mountains, I was trying to figure out how to put a brake system on a cart.

Never got very far with it, but my Pro Tip is to consider building one from scratch or Frankensteining something with brakes in mind. Nothing like riding on your ass down the mountain holding on to the deer cart like Max the Dog holding on to the Grinch.



[B]Watching your deer go down from the stand:
[/B]




[B]Then it seems there could be trouble: [/B]




[B]The moment you realize you've made a huge mistake: [/B]



[B]
And that face when you know you need Santa, or a new friend with a four-wheeler, or at least a good idea and some welding skills: [/B]

11.) Bob Peck - 11/30/2018
As a teenager my best friend’s Dad made his own deer cart out of old ladder stands drilled and bolted together. The axle came off a garden cart he had towed behind his lawn tractor. The wheels were bicycle tires complete with bicycle hand brakes that he rigged to be able to lock. Imagine a rickshaw for deer with a 4-point safety harness attached so you could be hands free at times. That contraption was ugly but effective in the Adirondacks where we used to hunt.
12.) Jon - 11/30/2018
[QUOTE=Swamp Fox;57388]When I was more regularly hunting in the mountains, I was trying to figure out how to put a brake system on a cart.

Never got very far with it, but....

[/QUOTE]

there's a shocker
13.) Swamp Fox - 11/30/2018
Lol :groan:
14.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
the buck i shot this year went the totally opposite way i wanted it to run..im no spring chicken anymore..my brotherlaw was cutting his deer in the woods that morning so i had no help... like he was going to be a big help anyhow...lol..it was tough..but fun at the same time, i figured i had all morning.i still got it! the more i dragged it... the better i felt. i told myself i can still do this..
15.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
it was a pain in the ass!!
16.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
its funny how dragging a deer out of the woods can be so satisfying but a bitch at the same time..
17.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
its funny i drug that thing threw thickets and deadfalls out to a trail where i could use a cart ..and then my buddys show up..they all had there hands in there pockets..funny ..o well,,i guess the card games are fun..my brotherlaw is the only one that gives an effort.
18.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
then my buddys ask me why am i so pissed off all the time..
19.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
i shouldnt bitch to much about my buddys ...once we got it on the cart it was smooth sailing.. they were like this is easy...
20.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
thats what friends are for....
21.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
when i shot this deer it wasnt like the bonecolletor tv show..there was no brotherhood..
22.) crookedeye - 12/01/2018
when we shoot a deer at night you better gut it and hang it...because were not going to drag it out at night..theres football on that night..
23.) Triton Rich - 12/01/2018
[B]Congrats Bob! that's a beauty! For all that my urban bowhunting lacks, at least I never have to drag a deer more than about 100 yards :grin:[/B]
24.) billy b - 12/02/2018
Best story I've heard this year Bob, I applaud your spunk, I lost that a while back, I stopped dragging after I was jerked into a cactus patch several years ago, one of the worst experiences I've had in several years. Contrats on a beautiful buck, and knowing you it is well deserved, I know you put in the work. Put up some pics if you get him mounted, if that puts you in a strain A few of us would surely donate to the good cause. Again, great story followed by a great buck, I enjoyed the read!!!
25.) DParker - 12/02/2018
[QUOTE=billy b;57405]I stopped dragging after I was jerked into a cactus patch several years ago[/QUOTE]

That reminds me of the time I tripped and fell while hiking in the Superstition Mountains in AZ with my family in 1970 and rolled through a patch of jumping cholla cactus. The resulting half hour session with a pair of pliars is something that I'll surely never forget.
26.) billy b - 12/02/2018
My good friend worked on me for about 45 minutes with pliers and tweezers, he's a great friend.I had to ride back to camp standing up in the back of a pickup
27.) Bob Peck - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=billy b;57405]Best story I've heard this year Bob, I applaud your spunk, I lost that a while back, I stopped dragging after I was jerked into a cactus patch several years ago, one of the worst experiences I've had in several years.[/QUOTE]

The spunk you speak of is really necessity. If there was any other way short of the deer cart I should have bought years ago trust me, I would have gladly taken any other option. I hope to one day hunt in Texas although avoiding said cactus patches you and DP mention. I've been to Texas on business fives times this year (Houston, Dallas 2X, San Antonio and Driftwood (just had to try the Salt Lick open pit barbecue.)

[QUOTE=billy b;57405]Congrats on a beautiful buck, and knowing you it is well deserved, I know you put in the work. Put up some pics if you get him mounted, if that puts you in a strain A few of us would surely donate to the good cause. Again, great story followed by a great buck, I enjoyed the read!!![/QUOTE]

Thank you sir! It's not so much I "deserve" anything. Over the years I have gained much more than I ever gave and I'm eternally grateful. It's the first time in a long time I listened and followed instructions instead of debating and arguing. The story was from the heart. Be well my friend and Merry Christmas!
28.) Bob Peck - 12/05/2018
Thanks Rich! Urban bowhunting is an art unto itself which I respect. I've been on a few of these hunts in Lynchburg, VA. Although I didn't shoot anything through my binos I was able to watch a rerun of Sanford and Son without sound of course on some guys TV next to the patch I was hunting. LOL! Maybe that's why I didn't see any deer. :wink
29.) Bob Peck - 12/05/2018
P.S
Epilogue to the story.

Same stand exactly 1 week apart from the last time I sat in it to shoot the 1st buck. Again following instructions I hunted a morning sit and saw nothing. Packed up around 10:00 a.m. and made my way to the top of the ravine. My mind, no longer focused on hunting was startled awake. A big patch of grey at the top moved at 50 yards away. This buck never saw me and for the first time in many, many years I stalked quietly within 25 yards. He's making a scrape. He's gnashing up the over-hanging branch. He's browsing. He's scratching himself. He's putting on and then decides to slowly walk straight at me.

Now he's 15 yards directly in front of me. The wind is perfect and gently blowing in my face.

The gun is already up and resting against a tree nestled in the "Y" of my thumb and index finger. "Perfect." I say to myself. "I'll drop him right here on top with an easy drag to the logging road a mere 25 yards away."

POW! Goes the 30-06 aiming right at the base of his neck. He shudders like he took a huge gulp of Jack Daniels, staggers a bit and bolts directly off the top of the mountain ridge. I'm positive he had to have dropped right off the top crest of the ravine but noooooo ...

He bounds all the way to the bottom of the ravine, crashing, bashing, auguring into the forest floor here and there and finally piles up and lands less than 50 yards from where the first buck in this story dropped. This buck was nothing to speak of per se but helped me get one animal closer to my venison donation goal. Thankfully he did not dress out as heavy as the first so this time I decided the drag straight up was doable vs the long route I took with the first deer.

LOL! I'm online now finally buying that dang deer cart I should have bought 10 years ago!
30.) DParker - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=Bob Peck;57416]LOL! I'm online now finally buying that dang deer cart I should have bought 10 years ago![/QUOTE]

I've had my cart for 8 years now, but only get to use it about once every 2 years.

Want to trade problems? :-)
31.) Bob Peck - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=DParker;57417]I've had my cart for 8 years now, but only get to use it about once every 2 years. Want to trade problems? :-)[/QUOTE]

Tell you what, you come to Virginia and bring your deer cart and your favorite brown liquor. I'll guide you to the deer, feed you, house you and keep the cart when you leave. I might even ship the venison back to you that you collect while here! Deal? :laugh:
32.) DParker - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=Bob Peck;57419]Tell you what, you come to Virginia and bring your deer cart and your favorite brown liquor. I'll guide you to the deer, feed you, house you and keep the cart when you leave. I might even ship the venison back to you that you collect while here! Deal? :laugh:[/QUOTE]

If I bring my favorite brown liquor the odds are that's going to be the only thing that gets killed.

Edit: On the other hand...you're [B][I]far[/I][/B] close to Kentucky than I am. This idea may have unanticipated merit. Let me ponder it a bit.
33.) Bob Peck - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=DParker;57420]If I bring my favorite brown liquor the odds are that's going to be the only thing that gets killed.[/QUOTE]
C'mon now. You're not going to let a little brown liquor get in the way are you? You're a Texan where everything is bigger, even hangovers.

[QUOTE=DParker;57420]Edit: On the other hand...you're [B][I]far[/I][/B] close to Kentucky than I am. This idea may have unanticipated merit. Let me ponder it a bit.[/QUOTE] Please do ponder. I ain't kiddin. (well sort of, by the time you get here I'll have my dang deer car) Come to think of it I could use my new deer cart to haul you to your stand. Eh? Eh?
34.) DParker - 12/05/2018
[QUOTE=Bob Peck;57421]C'mon now. You're not going to let [B][I][COLOR="#FF0000"]a little[/COLOR][/I][/B] brown liquor get in the way are you? You're a Texan where everything is bigger, even hangovers.[/QUOTE]

That part in red does not compute.

[QUOTE=Bob Peck;57421]Come to think of it I could use my new deer cart to haul you to your stand.[/QUOTE]

Henceforth I shall call you "Jeeves".
35.) Swamp Fox - 12/05/2018
LOL ...
36.) Swamp Fox - 12/05/2018
So that would make you ... Bertie?

:p