"Lucky Number 11/11/11"
By Mark Ripp
As another successful Archery season winds down it is time to pause and reflect. As usual the season was full of its ups and downs which build both character and knowledge. The season started with the hopes of laying down one of two deer, either Big Brow or Bo Derek (because he is a perfect ten). My hunting partner Joe and I had been chasing Big Brow for two years and I had a feeling his days were numbered. Opening weekend was met with optimism and it did not disappoint, not only did I see one but both giants showed themselves. Unfortunately, my effective range with the ole Hoyt CRX is around 45 yards and they never closed the distance. As most of you bow hunters in southern Wisconsin know it was rather warm the first couple of weeks this year and the deer movement reflected that as usual. My better stands overlooking beans were a great spot to watch deer move right at dark; great for the nature lover in me but not so much for hunter.
The rest of my vacation was downhill from that point on; poor wind and coyotes ruined most of my hunts and the week ended with nothing to show for it. At this point my goals shifted to just getting a doe for the freezer. On the ninth of November we were blessed with several inches of snow and I could not wait to hit the stand on Friday and see if 11/11/11 was my lucky day. Due to the south wind and I was trying to figure out where my best shot was since I had very few options for a south wind. I decided on an area that formed a nice funnel between a pretty thick patch of hardwoods and two alfalfa fields that I could utilize a climber. I snuck into the woods and set up my Lone Wolf climber on a very fresh scrape. I had chosen to use my Lone Wolf today because the wind tends to swirl in this spot and I was going to use height to my advantage. I climbed to about 30 feet and set up. No sooner as I brought my bow up did I have a nice nine pointer come in to about 50 yards. He was using a trail that would take him within range but he stopped at 40 yards when he got downwind of me. I thought I was busted but something worse happened, he bedded down staring right at me! I could hardly breathe let alone hang my bow up. My saving grace was the fact I had a tree blocking his view me on my right side. This would become important later in the story. After close to an hour and a half of staring at each other I was about ready to say "screw it" and just let him bust me because frankly I was getting a little sore just standing there. It was then that I heard snow crunching behind me. I very slowly turned my head and saw a slightly bigger nine coming down the trail with his nose to the ground. The trail he was on wrapped around a rocky outcropping and headed towards the field. I had to let him come towards me pass before I could move to avoid him seeing me. When he had turned I was able to grab my grunt call with my right hand and gave him a real soft grunt. I'll remind you that there is still the other buck sitting behind me. My thought process was that hopefully I could get this new buck to think I was the bedded buck and come into investigate. Buck #2 heard the grunt and stopped and looked but seemed to not care, I hit it again and once again he stopped briefly. At this point Buck #1 stood up and I decided to get a little more aggressive. I let out my best pissed off snort wheeze impression and let me tell you, THAT got his attention! He spun around and trotted right at me and the first buck. As he passed behind some trees I drew back and tried to stay calm. When he stopped at 25 yards broadside I stopped him with a grunt and let the Easton fly. Upon impact he tucked his tail and dropped his head and began plowing straight down a ravine towards the neighbor’s property and out of sight. I felt I had made a good hit and knew it was a pass-through but was still a little worried.
After waiting a little while and calling the neighbor to notify him the deer crossed onto his property I got down to find the arrow. Immediately it was clear I had made a decent hit, the snow was that beautiful color that every deer hunter can appreciate. Both sides of his path had good blood and I was feeling better and better. After talking with the neighbor we decided that we were going to wait until morning to recover because had wanted to be there and had commitments that night. I was a little uneasy because we are covered up with coyotes and didn’t want to give them a free dinner but what could I do? The next morning after a longer track job than I was expecting we found what I was afraid of, a partially eaten buck. Fortunately, I was able to salvage a good portion of the venison and was thankful those old dogs weren't hungrier. By no means was this a giant deer but it was a trophy in my book since it was the first deer that I can say I got due to my calling techniques, and that made it special to me. Anytime you can change your luck through planning or tactics it just makes it that more special. While this hunt had a bittersweet ending it couldn't have been more fun. I guess that 11/11/11 was a lucky day after all!