One of our readers emailed us with their opening day experience which ended in a successful harvest of a very nice 10 point buck in velvet. Justin was gracious enough to allow us to share his story and pictures of his deer with you. Below is the story of Justin's opening day hunt!
This past summer I got permission to hunt a new piece of property that is right behind my house in Harford County. I’ve always seen a ton of does in the area and knew there had to be a couple decent bucks hiding back in the underbrush. Well about 4 weeks before the season started I walked the property and found an old fence row running through the woods along with a real good trail that crossed it where a tree had fallen across the fence. I decided to put a stand up about 35 yards from the trail. I also found out that the owner had 3 apple trees in his back yard and with his permission, gathered up a couple of buckets worth of apples and put them by my tree stand. I was just beginning physical therapy school out of town, so I left a trail camera over top the apples and waited for opening weekend to roll around. The Thursday before opening day I came home that afternoon and snuck in to pull the SD card and boy was I in for a good surprise. I ended up having about 900 pictures and they were predominantly the same group of 6 bucks in velvet coming in every day. There was a couple younger bucks and then 4 mature bucks that could be shooters. Of the 4 mature bucks there was a big 10, two nice 8 pointers, and an old scraggy 8 pointer that was on the decline form old age but still big body. However, the last pictures of the bucks on the camera were from about a week before. Regardless, I was still excited to get out in the woods and have a chance to harvest my first mature buck with my bow. I’m now 21 and I’ve been hunting ever since I was 12. I’ve had my share of smaller bucks with my bow but never anything worthy to hang on the wall next to my Pops bucks.
After getting only about 2 hours of sleep, I headed to the woods and was in my tree stand well before shooting light at 6:12. I sat there in anticipation and waited. 6:12 finally came around and I though to myself it is still way to dark to really see anything. As soon as I thought that, I heard a snick snap and turned my head to see a big body deer walking down the fence trail. I had 2 shooting lanes to that trail, one about 10 yards wide and the other 30 yards up the trail that had a smaller window. When he made it to my first shooting lane, I squinted trying to make out which buck it was. In the back of my mind I knew it had to be 1 of the 4 mature bucks but I really didn’t want to the “scraggy” 8 pointer. Since the buck was moving at such a slow pace for some reason, I figured I would wait for him to make it down the trail to the next shooting lane to try and get more light to see his antlers. This is where everything happened in a flash. Next thing I know, the buck comes to a complete stop and starts smelling the ground and the air. When I walked into the stand it was my first time walking in in the dark and lost my way, accidentally crossing the deer trail en route to the stand. The buck froze right where he was and I couldn’t wait any longer to fling an arrow down range. I thought to my self I have a 3 out of 4 chance of tagging a “wall mounter” and I drew my bow back. “Twang” my lighted nock seemed like it went in slow motion to the deer and then there was a “thwack”. I though to myself the shot was a tad high and little worried that I didn’t get a pass through knowing I’m pulling back 80 lbs (I’m fairly big at 6’5’’). The shaking began as I heard the deer go crashing through the woods and then waited until 7:30 to go check for blood. I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of blood due to the arrow not passing through but upon arrival on the scene, I found blood sprayed everywhere and 10 yards down the trail found where he jumped the fence breaking the arrow where I found my lighted nock and broadhead. I was still worried about my shot placement so I decided to back out go get breakfast (knowing my house was 5 minutes away) and come back in a couple of hours to track.
I got back to my house and immediately called my best friend/hunting buddy and laid out the whole situation to him telling him I shot a big body buck but didn’t know which one. He had class that day so he couldn’t help me track but was planning on coming back that afternoon to hunt. He wished me luck and about 2 hours later I returned to my stand and started the tracking. With bow in hand, I slowly made my way along the fairly large blood trail and kept looking ahead for a glimpse of a white belly. I mad it about 80 yards past the fence when all of the sudden I saw a glimpse of a deer and antlers along another fence. I though to my self no way this deer just bedded down and was still alive. I slowly crawled up to about 30 yards on the other side of the stream it had crossed and pulled back while standing up. Thats when I realized I had shot the big 10 pointer in full velvet and it was in fact dead. It had gotten his antlers stuck in the fence in a way where its head was still off the ground. I immediately ran over to him putting my hands around his antlers admiring his velvet. I called my buddy right away and as I began to tell him I had found the 10 pointer, I heard a bunch of buzzing. My buck had died right next to a yellow jacket nest in the ground and they were angry I was jumping and hollering around their nest. I ended up getting stung twice in the hand and twice in the ear causing both to swell exponentially within 2 minutes. After running about 100 yards away swatting at the air, I returned to my buck to drag him away from the nest with no further injury. As I began the 200 yard drag back to my truck with my cauliflower looking ear giant swollen ear, and dripping in sweat; I had a smile on my face and couldn’t wait to show my friends and family my buck.
Looking back at the whole situation and how it panned out, the best thing that happened was the fact I couldn’t see the antlers as I made my shot which in hindsight eliminated any shaking pre-shot. I ended up shooting a tad high but upon field dressing him found I had double lunged him and he only ran 90-100 yards. I took him to a taxidermy that afternoon and can’t wait to get him back to hang on the wall.
Great deer and a great story. That was an awesome opening day! Thank you again for allowing us to share with our other readers and congrats on your deer!