As our annual hunting pilgrimage to the West comes to a close we can be thankful for the time we spent in the woods enjoying nature. It is always bittersweet when we head back South; thankful to be headed home for a little rest but sad to be ending our adventure.
Unfortunately we are on our way home without a harvest this year, however you can not measure the great memories made. How can one not be thoroughly satisfied sitting 20 feet closer to Heaven with a front row seat to the Show? That is what this journey is all about.
Our 9-day trip started off rifle hunting in Kentucky. After pulling our camera cards we didn’t have anything new so we decided to stay in the stand we had hunted on our earlier trip. We seen 3 young bucks and 6 does during our Saturday hunt. On Sunday, a wind advisory was issued four our area and the wind was absolutely terrible; it was so windy it was a struggle for Richard to pull the cameraman stand we were taking to Kansas with us. We decided to head to Kansas half a day early to bow hunt; leaving Kentucky at noon.
We were excited to be in Kansas—one of our favorite states to hunt. It was really looking good for us since on day one of our Kansas trip, we no longer had Hank unloaded and was on our way to the field to pull camera cards when our first sight was a nice big buck chasing a doe across the field in front of us. Later in the week, I sat in awe as I watched a young 8-point come into our set up looking for a fight after a rattling sequence; not only once but 4 times. On one of our last few days, we watched as a young 6-point approached our decoy in a submissive manner trying everything he could do, short of touching it of course, to get the decoy to acknowledge him.
A nice buck did come up behind us at 60 yards following a doe. I caught a glimpse of a doe over my left shoulder that was on a trail going straight to the field in front of us. I giggle about that buck sighting because of what happened to Richard.
When I spotted the doe, I whispered to Richard letting him know the location of the doe. His cameraman stand was on the right side of me facing opposite of the doe’s location. As soon as Richard seen the doe, we both stood up hoping a buck would be following her. At this vantage point, I saw the buck and I immediately whispered, “Don’t move, buck!” I gave the location of the buck, but Richard never had the opportunity to see the buck; a huge tree with two trunks directly behind us blocked it.
I tried several times to tell him and to motion where the buck was located without getting busted. All of the sudden I heard Richard’s heavy breathing. Then I glanced slowly over at him and only caught glimpse of his legs…they were shaking. Then I heard the shake in his voice when he asked me if I could still see the buck. I was concentrating on the buck when out of the corner of my eye I saw a few smaller branches shaking on the tree. I could not help but to silently belly chuckle. I could physically feel Richard shaking the tree.
The buck never did produce himself for a shot and when the doe turned back and trotted into the woods parallel to the field, the buck followed walking out of sight. I looked at Richard and said, “He walked out with the doe.” Richard let out some air and sat down. I asked him with a giggle, “You going to be alright.” He laughed and said, “I don’t know why I started shaking and got so excited like that.” He said, “Buck fever, I guess.” I laughed about it a few more times while in that tree that afternoon. I could physically feel and hear his emotion—I don’t know why I didn’t catch it and start shaking myself. What is so odd is he was behind the camera not the weapon and ironically he doesn’t get buck fever behind a gun.
The winds started picking up as the week progressed in Kansas. The forecast was not looking good for the weekend and although our deer camera photos where showing a few promising bucks, we had not seen much deer activity on any of our hunts. With the 25-30 mile an hour wind and the fact we were not seeing much rut activity or deer sightings, we decided to leave Kansas several days early, returning to Kentucky to rifle hunt.
Kentucky proved to have more deer movement, just not the deer we were looking to harvest. Sunday’s rain and thunderstorms found us packing up early and driving home. But before we left, we put out 5 deer cams to do a little scouting for us in hopes of a successful trip during the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday. Yep, that’s right..3 days work at our full-time employment, a night of washing and drying hunting clothes, a 7-hour one-way trip and we will turn around and do this all over again. Some call us crazy. Some say we are obsessed. Others may say we are dedicated–we settle with simply “doing what we love and loving what we do.” Our Life in Camo is not about what we harvest. It is about enjoying the journey and making memories along the way.