A Fitting Reunion - The Story of my First Buck since my Grandfathers Passing
A Fitting Reunion - The Story of my First Buck since my Grandfathers Passing
I’ve written about my grandfather before and I hope that this story will touch you in a way that causes change in your life. Walter Edwards, my Grandfather, was a Preacher since birth. He shook your hand hard and paid special attention to the person he was speaking with. He made you feel like the most important person in the room and gave all the glory to God. He began our tennis tradition and the love of Kentucky Basketball. He was my best friend.
After his passing in August 2018, I had hit a moment in my life that I hope to never feel again. For those of you who have lost people that you are close with, I now somewhat understand the feeling that you have in that moment and the moments after. My buddy, Mike Jones, recently told me about how life is a book and that is just the end of a chapter – good things that come from reading that chapter is that you will always have those memories with that person.
Fast forward to November 16th, only a few months later, and it’s a frozen, iced-over, Friday morning. Will and I knew we were in for a cold morning as it had rained overnight and then dropped into the 20’s. There was ice all over the trees but the coffee was warm and our spirits were high. Mid-November is the BEST time to be in the woods in middle Tennessee. The rut is an exhilarating time, I would always tell a hunter to never leave the woods if possible during the rut. If you want to increase your chances on killing a big buck, the rut is the time to make it happen.
Willy and I began our very slow drive to the back side of the farm where we would begin the trek to the stand we call the “Condo” since it could easily fit 4 people. With all of the ice on the roads and trees, it was extremely slick and lots of trees and branches had fallen with the weight of the ice – we began to discuss how we weren’t sure how the morning would go – but what else we were doing, right?
Once we got to the gate, we loaded up and began the mile walk to the stand. Constant crunching and a little breeze gave way to quite a brisk morning. With temperatures in the 20’s we were in for a chilly morning. Knowing there may be several large bucks around, we got into the stand as quietly as possible and made sure to unload our gear in an extremely careful manner. With it being our first big morning out together and first time filming, we wanted to make sure we made the most of our time and moments. Once settled, we began to see some orange and pink poke through the trees and under the clouds. Glassing the 200-yard-long field, simultaneously, Will and I both spot the figure of a large deer in the field with faint shadows of antlers. It’s way too early for us to take any kind of shot but it definitely got our blood pumping and excited for what was to come.
Nearly an hour after we got into the stand, the sun began poking through the clouds and it began to sound like it was pouring down rain all around us. Once the sun began to warm all of the ice up, it was melting and dropping all through the woods. We had trees falling and cracking. Branches were swaying and popping, it truly sounded more like a thunderstorm than melting ice. For the next hour, we relaxed and took our time as we knew the deer wouldn’t be moving with the loud noises and ice falling. It was time for snacks and stretching – preparing for the “post melt.”
We finally noticed the cracking and water falling begin to slow down and the woods began to get quiet again. I distinctly remember Will saying: “Once this rain ice stops melting, we are about to be in business.” We had near silence for 15 minutes and you could literally feel the tension begin to build as animals began to move through the woods and field. Sun was up and it was 9 am by the time the squirrels began to rummage through the acorns and scurry around. This blind is notorious for its squirrels and they were out to play – it made us feel like, if they were out and about then other animals would be doing the same.
It wasn’t 30 minutes after the ice and “rain” had finally stopped, we saw our first deer. 3 “hot” does (hot does are does that are ready to breed. Can see this by noticing their tails are always half arched.) began to come out of the woods straight in front of us. They weren’t looking around or running, it was as if they had just gotten out of bed for breakfast. Will set his binoculars down and began to talk about how ready he was to see some action when I grabbed him and uttered – “Big buck, Will.”
My heart dropped, I was glassing this majestic, dark-horned bruiser that knew he owned this piece of the woods.
As if he had a red carpet in front of him, the tall-racked 9-pointer came from the top, right, corner of the field heading straight for the does. With his head held high and neck swollen, he began pushing the does around the field. I had already turned the camera on and began moving my gun up to get ready for him to stop. He was nearly 150 yards and chasing these does around. That is too far for the kind of shot that I am comfortable with, so we needed to let him get closer. As he chased the does all over the field, one of the does led him into the woods and out of our sight. I was extremely disappointed as it was easily the biggest deer I had seen all season and, so he thought, was the most dominant buck in the area.
Minutes and minutes pass by, we aren’t hearing or seeing any other deer and don’t have any eyes on the beast that had just chased these does off. I grab the camera and take my eyes off the field to begin to watch over the film that I had of him when he showed up and chased the does around. It couldn’t have been 30 seconds later and much to my surprise, I hear Will under his breath...
“Adam, get your gun up now, he’s back!”
This buck had completed a full circle around the right side of the woods and was coming out midway through the field on the right. He had no does, no bucks and no cares. He steps out into the field, yet again, head held high. I throw my gun up on the ledge of the stand and dial my scope in. I didn’t even have time to get my camera on video by the time we got him stopped.
“MEEH” (redneck doe bleat – a way to get your deer to stop).
BANG – the muzzleloader goes off. As the smoke clears, I can see my buck laying dead right where I had shot him. Dropped right where he stood. I literally jump up out of my chair hyped up and yelling, laughing and yanking Will back and forth. I could truly feel the stand swaying back and forth from where I was moving so much! Will and I were high-fiving and absolutely living and loving the moment. I was ready to go check out my trophy when Will made a decision that completely changed the game of this hunt.
“Why don’t we just hang for a while? Seen plenty of movement and we’ve got all day.”
“I’m in.” I replied.
I sat back down in the condo and reloaded the muzzleloader. If another buck was to show, Will would have to do the shooting, but I knew he thought we could shoot a doe or two as well if the situation allowed for it. I’m so glad he made this judicial decision to stay because this story turned into a true memory of a lifetime.
For the next hour, we began to see several does and small bucks show up. There was a very large buck that trekked across the back parts of the field for less than 10 seconds, but we never got a shot on him. He was definitely a bigger bodied deer than the buck I had shot, while also being a 9 pointer. We had a small 6 pointer hang out within 50 yards of us for a while chasing some smaller does around but it was nearing time for us to decide to hang it up when, to our right, I saw a forked-G2, 10 pointer.
I yank on Will’s arm, letting him know to grab his muzzleloader. This buck was walking the woods beside the field just watching what was happening in the field while going about his way. As he began to walk through the woods, Will had to stand up and get to the back of the stand to be able to shoot this bruiser as he was leaving our field. I got the camera ready and recording as we were scrambling to get into place. Will stands there for 10-15 seconds and turns to me asking “I don’t see him, where is he?”
At that moment, I turn back to see him coming out of the SAME spot that my buck had come out from. I grab Will and turn the camera back around to the front of the blind while he gets sat back down and in position. Laying his rifle along the rail to get a steady rest, the buck begins to walk into the field. No more than 5 steps into the field…
“You ready” I asked.
“Yup.” Will replied.
“Meeeh” – I grunted to get him to stop.
He turns and looks at us dead in the blind, Will squeezed that trigger and put a perfect shot on this buck. As soon as the bullet hit this deer, it rears back and flips onto its rear-end and flops on his back. Never in my life have I, in-person, seen a deer basically doing a back-flip after getting shot – only on the tv shows. I truly couldn’t believe my eyes.
We had two bucks laying dead less than 20 yards apart that are both +140” deer. Finally, I was able to expel all of my emotions as Willy and I began to clap and high-five and yell our way out of the blind and to those bucks. Never have I seen the kind of animals that day in a single morning, much less been able to double on a 2 monster bucks.
We got them cleaned up and started getting some pictures taken. Will and I both gave speeches about our respective bucks and I came to the realization that this was my first animal I had been able to harvest since the passing of my Grandfather. I know that in that moment, my Grandfather was with me. Even more ironic, Will had just recently found the buckeye that his late father had always carried while in the woods. I have no doubt that they both helped guide us to that situation and were watching over, proud of us, for doing what we do.
There’s always more to a harvest than just pulling the trigger.