....Halloween is when the bucks come out to play.
Halloween Week Hunt
Halloween weekend had arrived and I was on my way for my third annual deer hunt on my friend's farm in Missouri! Last year I was able to harvest my first deer ever in Missouri and I couldn't wait to go back! I felt more confident and ready for this year's hunt.
11 hours later I arrived at the farm, Tad and Pat Brown's farm to be exact. Best people you will ever meet. Stepping out of my truck, the frigid chill of Missouri hit me smack in the face. AHHH. This Louisianian is not used to 30 degree temperatures in October, but I knew that the deer would be moving.
The first day of the hunt had arrived, October 30, 2020. Waking up before dawn, Tad and I loaded the 4-wheeler. The hunt was on! We parked, crossed a creek and climbed into our tree stands overlooking his large clover patch. It was a beautiful, frosty morning. Dawn broke and I hear buzzing....this can't be good. Tad whispered down to me, "Are you allergic to bees?"
My eyebrows went up and my heart started beating a bit faster. Apparently honeybees had made a hive in the tree! All morning bees went buzzing by on their way to find food. A few even landed on my camo, trying to pollinate it. It was a fascinating morning in the stand, but no deer seen.
That evening we hunted over a beautiful turnip food plot in raised platform stand in a ground blind. Totally my preference for a hunt when it's cold. At least it blocks the wind! A gorgeous Missouri sunset, but still no deer.
Halloween Is When the Monsters Come Out
Halloween Day arrives. It's a cold, clear morning. My breath freezes in the air as we take the 4-wheeler out. Back to the turnip plot we go. The sun rises, native grasses are blowing in the breeze and the hawks begin to circle and dive bomb the blue jays and cardinals. I love watching nature from the stand. We took a mid-day lunch break.
Hoping the deer would show up, we climbed back in the stand around 2. Guess what? I see something moving in the grass about 40-50 yards off. All of sudden, I see a small face making a beeline for the food plot. I whisper to Tad, "It's a coyote and I'm going to make the shot." The coyote travels the back corridor of the food plot and Tad makes a whistle. The coyote stops broadside and looks around. I'm in full draw and slowly release.
It felt like slow motion. You can literally see the arrow brush the hairs behind his front leg as the arrow gracefully sail right under him. He takes off into the junipers and disappears. I was confused! I thought I had made a perfect shot and I was so excited! I looked at Tad and said, "I shot for 30 yards. Was he farther than that?" Sure enough, Tad says he was at 35 yards. Sigh....a tough lesson learned. Always know your yardage. Ugh. I had come so close to harvesting my first coyote and his coat was a gorgeous color with a red tint. O well. Lesson learned.
The sun begins to drop in the sky and I glance out of the small blind window on my left. Horns....horns...horns. I do a double-take. Sure enough, there's a big-bodied buck with a beautiful rack browsing the turnips. I whisper to Tad that there's a buck! He breaks out the grunt call. Y'all this is the biggest deer I've ever seen in my short time of hunting! I've never been this nervous. My breath is heavy and I can literally hear the thumping of my heart.
The first grunt call makes him look up, but no movement. Tad gives him a minute and grunts again. This time he wants to know what's happening and he starts moving! As he's walking, he goes into my blind spot, literally. Tad whispers to me to hold my draw. He's coming around the front. My whole body freezes. My mind is racing- "Where is he? When can I draw my bow?" I'm shaking with adrenaline.
Then he comes into view. Of course, he's walking the back road of the turnip plot, right where the coyote came in. I know it's a 35 yard shot which is a bit out of my comfort range, but it's possible. I'll just have to hold a little high. I draw back. Tad makes another call. I'm in position- nose on string, pin on deer, but it won't settle.... My arm is physically shaking, my heart won't stop pounding. I hear Tad whisper, "Take him!" The buck walks on, I let down and he disappears into the brush.
After I let down my draw, the adrenaline kept going......Wow. That was such an experience. Tad looked at me and asked the question no one wants to hear, "Did you freeze up?" Well I guess I did. I couldn't calm my nerves, I couldn't settle my pin and I let the monster walk away. I wasn't going to make a bad shot on an animal just because I wanted him. Don't get me wrong, it was beyond disappointing, but I'm always learning and I tried not to beat myself up over this one.
Many people on social media view me as a professional archer and hunter. They know me as AnnaTheArcher and my mission is always to introduce others to the great sport of archery. But don't mistake me for a pro hunter. I chose to get into archery 6 years ago and it's changed my life for the better. I love it. I only started hunting 3 years ago and it's taken me so many places, but I'm not some phenomenal hunter.....yet! Bowhunting is hard!! It requires mental and physical strength along with plenty of practice.
This year I have been able to harvest my first buck and I am hooked for life! But I'll be honest with you, I get in my head a lot! I doubt myself, I get scared that I won't live up to the hype of all of the other hunters on social media, I freak out that I'm not good enough... It's something I work on constantly. I have some great archery friends who have harvested some amazing bucks and they help remind me- it's not about living up to the hype. It's about enjoying the time out in the woods, forgetting about who is watching and believing in yourself. For all of the new archers and hunters out there, believe in yourself and shoot because you love it!
Archery takes patience and I can't believe that this hyper, Louisiana lady can now sit in the woods for hours on end waiting on deer. I would have never believed it, but anything is possible. Thanks to the special people in my life who always encourage me to keep pursuing my dreams. I'll be out in the woods chasing more monsters. He may have gotten away this year, but next Halloween I'll be back hunting monsters. :]