Going into the 2012 season I have to admit I was not nearly as prepared as I have been in years past. Moving from Suburban Milwaukee down to Kenosha had really ruined my preseason shooting rituals and routines. Graduating from Marquette, moving out into the real world, and starting my career as a Clinical laboratory scientist seemed to overshadow my usual focus on the upcoming season. I had run trail cameras all summer and had a pretty solid pattern down thanks to the mapping software here on Big Game Logic, but my form was average at best heading into the final week before season.
The last week before the season I took advantage of every opportunity I had to shoot my bow. I fine-tuned my pins and made the extra effort to focus on making “every shot count.” It was startling how accurate I had become in one short week. My bow had been tuned and tweaked at BK III archery in Wind Lake and Bob had done magic. My effective killing range had returned to my 50 yard goal from 35 the week prior. I was set to kill, and just in time I was headed up for the opener before I knew it.
My opening morning setup was the same tree I found myslef in last year with good friend Joe Zalar. It is, when the wind is right, where I want to be every season for opening morning. The woods and geography form a natural funnel and it’s surronded on both sides by crop fields. The stand sits on the oak flat that leads from the crop fields up onto the thick ridge and crp field that are the two key bedding areas in the area we hunt. Deer feed in the crop fields at night and travel through the oak flat headed towards the ridge to bed during the day.
The wind that morning was forcasted to be from the south west so I enterned the stand from the north along the fence line. I snuck in hoping to catch a big doe coming off the corn fields up to bed. When I got into the stand the wind was from the north. I was frustrated but I knew I had three things in my favor. First, it was opening morning, second, the crop fields and the highway-like trail leading from them are both to the north of my stand, and third, I am the world’s biggest scent freak.
Reading the Script
It all happened pretty quickly. I had just filmed my intro and did a pan of the woods when I heard the glorious first twig snap of the 2012 season. I looked over to the Northeast to see “Kicker,” a 3.5 year old 10 that I had been watching on camera all summer. I was pretty pumped to see a buck opening morning even if I knew I wouldn’t shoot him. His distinct double brows on his right antler gave him away immediately. Just as I was enjoying his presence I heard another twig snap and saw a body that dwarfed Kickers’. I thought about either Wallee or Redemption immediately, the two 5-year-old-plus hit list bucks that had filled my dreams the night before. As I moved the camera into focus I realized it was High Roller, my 4.5-year-old and without even the slightest second thought, I reached for the Hoyt.
Highroller and Kicker did exaclty as I had planned. They came off the crop fields eating acorns as they strolled up towards the ridge and crp field to bed. However, Highroller did not make it to the crp that morning.
A Farm Record
The Biggest buck taken off the land where I learned to hunt has been my uncle’s 13 scoring 138 5/8th from before I was born. I’m confident that High Roller will esclipse that mark. Scores aren’t everything to me at all and I’ve been known to say when I’m asked about net vs. gross score that “nets are for fish.” But, it brings me great pride and a sense of accomplishment knowing that I have harvested the largest buck off of my family’s hunting grounds. I am fortunate that I have a dad and grandfather who gave me a bow or handed me a pellet gun and inspired my passion for the outdoors. Tagging out early season is always bitter sweet but I have a few doe tags to fill and I’m pretty good behind the camera. Be sure to check us out on facebook and follow Joe and Clint, the other Prostaffers at Suburban Standout Outdoors, as we try to get a few more bucks down this season.
I am humbled that God blessed me early this season with a hit list buck and I am inspired at the beauty of creation I experience each fall. As long as my heart still beats and my body lets me I will be hunting the mighty whitetail. Long live deer season.
Be safe and good luck this season.
Be sure to check out the video of the hunt on youtube:
SSO High Roller Video
Suburban Standout Outdoors
Big Game Logic .com