Curly Meets His Demise
1/8/2012 5:23 PM
By Clint Birtzer
Going into the 2011 deer season I knew things were going to be different. With a full schedule of classes slated to start in August and my first consistent part-time job, I was going to have to earn my stripes as a true weekend warrior. It also meant I needed to ramp up preparations to give myself as much of an edge as possible.
I started running trail cams in mid-August. The farmer who farms my lease had done a few unexpected things with the crops and had planted the entire field in corn. I was expecting soy beans in front of my primary early season stand. Not knowing if I should disturb the spot early or wait until the rut, I decided to make my decision using the information from my trail cam.
I left the camera alone for two weeks before checking it. During those two weeks ten different bucks entered the corn field on a trail sixteen yards from my stand multiple times. That was enough for me. Of the ten, seven were shooters. Of those seven, two stuck out significantly. One was a buck I’ve been getting pictures of for three years. We named him Dagger because of his knife-shaped brow tines, and he’s never been spotted in the daylight on our lease. The other was a gnarly looking buck that I’d never seen before. My dad picked the name Curly again because of the brow tines. Needless to say, I was very excited to hunt that spot on opening day.
My stand location is on the corner of a rectangular field. The north edge runs straight east and west and is right on the edge of great bedding cover. Straight behind my stand is a deep ravine that many deer travel through. A lot of deer skirt the field and pass twenty yards behind me on the edge of the ravine. In front of the stand is the corn where the deer feed. There really isn’t a perfect wind for the location as deer come from all different directions, but a healthy north-west is definitely the closest.
As Sep 17th crept closer and closer, the forecast kept getting better and better. The wind looked to be switching from the west to the north-west as a front swept through. The conditions were shaping up to be perfect and I absolutely could not wait to get out. Even though my anticipation was extremely high, I made myself not go out on opening morning. From the information I had gleaned from my trail cam pics I knew the general pattern was that most of the deer came out in the evening and then reentered the woods in the morning. The route to my stand requires pushing through the corn. This tends to be incredibly noisy on a cold clear morning so I knew I would be spooking deer. I made myself wait and planned to head out that afternoon around three.
With the wind blowing steadily in my face I slowly pushed my way through the standing corn right on schedule. My Uncle and my Dad were hunting about a half-mile south of me so I was pretty secluded on the north side of the property. Just the way I like it. I was virtually the first human-pressure of the season. I knew that evening would be one of my best chances of the entire season. I worked my way to my spot and checked the trail cam one last time. To pump me up even more there was a new picture of Curly from the night before. I shimmied twenty-five feet up my tree and strapped myself in (always wear your safety harness!).
Before I had been there even ten minutes I spotted a borderline eight-pointer sneaking along the field edge barely twenty yards from my stand. He melted into the trees before I had a chance to make a final decision about shooting. About twenty minutes later I heard some movement in the corn. I looked down and saw a nice doe feeding twenty yards from my stand. As she moved closer to an opening I drew my bow and marveled at my good fortune. Here I am on opening day, and here’s this beautiful doe feeding right in front of me a mere chip shot away. I launched my arrow and watching it sail an inch over her back. I had made one of the stupid mistakes you tell yourself you’ll never make and picked the wrong pin. I slumped down in my seat and wallowed in self-pity, not knowing what the rest of the evening had in store for me…
The next hour didn’t yield anything more than the occasional squirrel. As sunset approached I felt the mood in the woods change. It suddenly came alive with activity. I watched several deer melt through the trees behind me as the sun slipped behind the horizon. A doe was just disappearing around the ridge when I notice movement close to my stand. I looked down and witnessed the gorgeous sight of Curly rubbing a large sapling! My heart immediately began to race. I grabbed my bow while he started to slip into my shooting lane. Because of the angle and height of my tree stand I have never been able to clear a satisfactory lane back into the woods. Curly just happened to pick the one trail that offers a clear shot. I drew my bow and took the seventeen-yard shot. I heard a hearty thwack and watched him mule kick. Fifteen seconds later the crashing stopped and the shaking started. Five minutes later I finally calmed myself down enough to call my Dad. After a short blood trail we were standing over my biggest buck to date. He’s my first Pope and Young and he very unofficially scores 149” gross. I couldn’t be prouder of how it all played out. I really ramped up preparation and made sure my entrance was at the right time and with the right wind. I felt like I did everything right (besides missing the doe of course) and it paid off big time. Best of all, I was able to share the moment with my Dad and my Uncle Mike who have been my hunting buddies for years. My Dad was just as excited as I was. That’s what we here at Suburban Standout Outdoors and Big Game Logic are all about!
-Clint Birtzer, Suburban Standout Outdoors