2016 Season

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Ridgerunner7
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2016 Season

Postby Ridgerunner7 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:13 pm

2016 was a season of ups and downs for me. I went from feeling great about the season with the highest anticipation I’ve ever had to experiencing the uglier side of hunting that left a nasty taste in my mouth. (more on that later)

It started off great in Kentucky. One of my bow hunting dreams has been to shoot a velvet buck. I’ve been to Kentucky 3 times now and killed a great buck early season there a while back but he was hard antlered. I set my sights again for early season KY and was ready to commit years until I finally got my velvet buck. I figured it would be a while to get it dialed in because I was moving to a new area. Day 1-3 were spent hunting mobile and scouting some. I saw a huge buck on the 2nd day of the season in the evening. I got aggressive (wrong move) and tried to catch him coming back in the morning to the thicket he emerged from. I had the perfect wind for it but our paths crossed as I accessed my tree 45 min before light. Can’t be certain it was him but I’m pretty sure. A loud snort and a heavy lone deer bounding away and out of my life in the darkness. Looking back I totally should’ve waited until the evening hunt but I like to talk myself into trying things that I know probably won’t work. It’s a weird quirk of mine.

Driving around scouting I noticed some deer coming off this river bottom and cutting across this large CRP field. I thought what the heck and asked permission to hunt. A small trespass fee later and I was in business. I scouted the area in which the deer were headed. There was secluded hay field invisible from the road that had been recently picked with 4-5 inches of fresh growth. Tracks littered the field with a few sets of impressive buck tracks. I had an iffy wind but doable for the stand location I picked out. The tracks concentrated in a back corner that had an interior wooded fence that funneled movement around the tip of it. I set up there. The wind shifted as evening fell to the point where every deer that entered the area was catching my wind. I contemplated leaving and coming back the next day but deer kept coming out and I had no chance to get down. With 30 min of light left and after spooking 6-7 deer with my bad wind I see a deer emerge from the timber. A quick look and my “go switch” went on and I got ready for the shot. He followed the same path as the other deer and would be down wind of me in seconds. Then for some reason he turned and started towards me. He closed the distance to 22 yards and I made good on the shot. My first velvet buck was down. I had no idea what he was when I shot. I saw big body and velvet and I was going for it.
It was 96 degrees the day I shot him. The weather was incredibly hot. The bugs? Oh my gosh. Never have I seen so many ticks. I had thousands on me after grabbing his fuzzy antlers for 10 seconds. Not the most enjoyable hunt but I was pumped.
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Next step was Ohio for the opener. I hunted northern ohio in an area I have a lot of history with. I have permission to hunt about 40 acres with 36 acres of open field. This place is notorious for having good bucks in August but come September they disperse but every few years if the crops are still up there is a straggler hanging around. These are ditch and hedgerow deer. There is 4 acres of woods in 2 square miles in this area and the only other cover is a 6’ deep ditch with a few trees here and there. Fields are corn and beans. Big farming community that is very efficient in getting crops in and out very quickly. Most beans are gone by the opener and corn shortly after. I was disappointed to see several combines working the surrounding fields as I pulled up for the opening evening hunt.
I had two bucks I had my eyes on. One was a big 10 that had been around for a few years. The problem was after several nights glassing I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. The other buck was a goofy 7 point that I have several years of history with. I first got picture of him in 2013. He had an oddball rack then and never really grew out of it. In all those years I never laid eyes on him. He was very nomadic. I would get pics of him on this section and glass him 3 miles away the next evening in the summers. The very sparse cover in this particular area with very low density and it seems to really make the bucks nomadic and move long distances.

I set up on the ground tucked into some cover on the edge of standing corn and the four acre wood lot where there was a cluster of oaks actively dropping. When I arrived on the opener there were some big tracks recently made but I wasn’t sure if it was the big 10 or goofy 7 but I felt very good one of them was nearby. Historical scouting info told me if one was in the area they were in one of two bedding areas. I took my best guess( a lone oak in the standing corn) and set up accordingly. At last light I got my shot. I immediately knew it wasn’t the big 10 but wasn’t sure if it was the goofy 7 or not. When he lifted his head from feeding on acorns I knew it was him. I let him have it from 15 yards.
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2014
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2015
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Next hunt was Michigan. I knew this buck well. I passed him last season on November 14th only to be rewarded with a nice 130” buck moments later. I’m glad I did because he put on some nice size this year. He was very mobile but not in an area I was able to access. I was actually surprised how much he moved considering the hunting pressure in this area. I watched him many evenings from a distance. He routinely bedded about 300 yards away but would make his way towards me but wouldn’t reach me until after dark. I hunted periodically in an observation stand throughout October and observed some incredible behavior. He was basically bedding in 50 acres with no trees. October 25-Nov 1 I finally got a few daylight pics of him. On November 4th I had the perfect wind to get into the tree I needed to be in. I reached my stand 90 minutes before first light and made a perfect shot as he worked through a funnel shortly after daylight cruising for does.
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My next hunt was in Illinois. I made the trip down with a couple buddies. We had 4 days to get it done which is actually a long out of state trip for me. I’m usually happy with any 3 year old buck that offers me a good shot on this trip. Although we have taken some great bucks in this area this trip for me is more about being with my buddies. There are places you could hunt and possibly get on bigger deer but the sacrifice for some good comradery and a hunting camp feel is well worth it to me. We have been going for years, learned the area very well and it’s become somewhat of a tradition.
I had an incredible first morning passing on a nice 2 year old and a 3 year old in the first 5 minutes. An hour later I saw a big buck following a doe. I attempted to call him away unsuccessfully. Around 10 AM I caught a flash of white about 100 yards way down the river bottom. It was deer heading away from me. I literally caught the slightest flash of movement and had I been looking any other direction at that moment I would’ve missed him. He was heading away so I quickly hit him with a grunt and then a snort wheeze. All of the sudden I see rack working it’s way down the river bottom towards me. I knew through years of experience in this spot he would end up 25 yards from my tree. He put on a nice show as he closed the distance making some rubs and working some scrapes. I stopped him at 27 yards and made the shot. I watched him go down 40 yards later. He was a heavy 14pt with incredible mass.
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Mass
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Interesting thing about this shot was I ended up breaking through shoulders on this buck although I know I was aimed at the 12 ring when the released popped. Luckily I captured the entire hunt on video so I can analyze what happened. Upon the release the buck dropped 7-8” and started to whirl around. He brought his front shoulder right into the arrow. Luckily I carry plenty of energy for a shoulder hit but just goes to shot some of those shoulder shots we see and hear about aren’t always are fault. Amazing animal and reaction time! Got to share this one with a couple of great buddies which made it extra special.
The shot:
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Impact:
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Now the ugly part. I had the opportunity to hunt the largest buck I ever have this year. I had his sheds from last season, many photos and sightings. I have never been so in tune with a single deer in my life. I was patiently waiting the right wind and time to hunt this deer and had the upmost confidence I would wrap my tag around him this fall. Although many guys were hunting this deer they simply weren’t in the spot.
I can’t get into too many details at this time but the buck was poached by a guy at 5:30 in the morning as he left for work. Strange string of events on how he got busted but let’s just say he wasn’t very good at hiding it and his eagerness to brag eventually took him down. I was fortunate enough to handle the rack shortly after. It was an incredible deer that netted booner as an 8 pt. Just a freak buck for this area because it just doesn’t happen there.
As you can imagine I was quite bummed. I hated hunting for a while and after having a good season I found myself feeling very sour about hunting in general. That really bothered me . After a few weeks my daughter (7) said, “dad I think I’m ready to hunt a deer”. Boom! Yes! Something for me to focus on. She is already money with the crossbow but we practiced a few days.
We headed out a few nights later. We set up in a funnel from bed to feed sitting right on the ground with no blind. She, in my lap had cross bow ready as we waited. With about 15 min left she says “my feet are frozen, I’m ready to go”. I said “sure, no problem but this is prime time. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen now.” She decided she wanted to go anyway so I started packing up. Just as we stood I catch movement coming in. A nice doe was working her way and caught us moving. I grabbed her shoulders and say “that’s why we don’t quit early….that would’ve been your first deer”.
What happened next amazed me really. She simply took control of the situation. She gently leaned back to push me back down the seated position, grabbed the crossbow and shouldered it. The doe was weary and started walking away. I grabbed the grunt call and blew a fawn contact grunt. The doe turns and starts working her way back. I glance at my daughter and she’s got the eye of the tiger beading down on that deer through her scope.
Daughter: I’m on her, can I shoot” .
Me: No there is too much brush in the way (from my angle it looked like)
Daughter: No, I can shoot her right now. My crosshairs are on her.
Me: Are you sure honey, it looks like…..
Daughter: yes I’m sure. I can shoot her right now.
Me: ok, but only if you’re sure…
Cross bow goes off and doe falls in the spot she stood. Perfect top of the heart shot.
Daughter: (deep breath) That’s the most heart attacking thing I ever did
Couldn’t believe she took control like that. Killer instinct for sure. I was a very proud dad and that put a lasting bright spot on a season that had the highs and lowest of lows.
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Jackson Marsh
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Jackson Marsh » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:24 pm

That is an amazing year!! Great looking bucks!

Congrats to your daughter!! :dance: :dance:
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Edcyclopedia
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Edcyclopedia » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:35 pm

Yowza - Spectacular to the tenth power!
Expect the Unexpected when you least Expect it...
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Kraftd
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Kraftd » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:39 pm

My word man! Incredible stuff! Congrats.
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Mibowfreak
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Mibowfreak » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:44 pm

You are a machine Ridge. Great season man. Congrats to you and your daughter.
Last edited by Mibowfreak on Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
moog5050
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby moog5050 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:47 pm

Geeze I hope next season works out better for you. lol Unbelievable season!
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Ridgerunner7
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Ridgerunner7 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:51 pm

Couple other things... there were a decent number of good bucks around this year for Michigan. The disheartening thing is ever single one was killed this year except for one. I didn't have the heart or drive to hunt him after everything that happened this year. He would've been a fairly easy buck to get on. He survived the season so that's another positive. Deer numbers in general are low so I refused to take a doe this year.

Another fun fact. This was the first year I committed the entire season to attempt filming. I was able to capture some cool footage including my kills.
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Hawthorne
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Hawthorne » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Great year and thanks for sharing!
Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me.

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tbunao
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby tbunao » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:04 pm

What a freaking amazing year you had!!

About time I got to see that KY buck! I was just going back through old messages and thought about that. Congrats!
Grabbing the brass ring
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jmaas07
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby jmaas07 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:11 pm

Incredible season man, extremely impressive. You're a beast!
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rbuckleyjr1
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby rbuckleyjr1 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:13 pm

Amazing season RR7! Congrats to you and your daughter on her first deer. That is too bad about the big 8, any cam pics of him? Do you have any plans of uploading some of your hunting videos?
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Dewey
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Dewey » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:25 pm

Wow.....what an incredible season. Congrats. :clap:
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Singing Bridge
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby Singing Bridge » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:33 pm

This is a great review of your season. The intense highs and lows will make it very memorable as time passes. 8-)
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WV Bowhunter
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby WV Bowhunter » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:48 pm

What a year, your Illinois buck is amazing. That's what my dream buck looks like. Congrats!!
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!!
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Re: 2016 Season

Postby mainebowhunter » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:02 pm

Ridge man, awesome season. Great stuff.

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