I initial became acquainted with an Ohio buck I named Curfew following the 2014 season, when he showed up on one particular of my trail cameras in mid-January. I had no prior images or sightings of the buck, but he hung around all through the winter and I was capable to locate a single of his sheds in March. As a 3-year-old he was a good buck, but I didn’t truly consider about him significantly during the off-season and I assumed he would return to exactly where he came from by fall.
Curfew earned his name by showing up so late the prior season, and when I didn’t get my initial photo of him in the course of the 2015/2016 season until Oct. 30, his moniker seemed even more acceptable. This time, however, he was a head turner. Even though he still sported just an eight-point rack, he added a lot of mass and grew a set of impressive brow tines that I would obsess more than for the next couple of months as I began strategizing how I could get close to him.
Admittedly, Curfew wasn’t my original target buck. Heading into fall, I was focused on a deer I had been following for the last 3 seasons whose rack scored an estimated 170 inches. I had two sightings of the 5-year-old buck, which I thought was an accomplishment in itself, but after 1 close contact and possessing him just 25 yards away in early November, he disappeared. No more sightings. No much more trail-camera photographs. Just like that, he was gone, and I was forced to adjust my game program.
Curfew seemed to run with a small various crowd than my original target buck, and because of that I genuinely didn’t have a stand set in an area that gave me self-assurance. Still, I managed a single daylight sighting of him on Nov. 11, but he saw me too, and the outcome of that encounter is effortless to predict. I left two days later for a mule deer hunt with my dad in South Dakota, and I knew my ideal possibility to shoot the buck before gun season opened was now behind me.
I was capable to hunt a couple far more occasions ahead of Thanksgiving, but other than receiving a couple nighttime pictures of Curfew and seeing a couple of decent bucks, there was actually no excitement to speak of. When firearms season arrived, I chose a location that would enable me a affordable chance to see him, while also limiting the chances that I would chase him off the property and into harm’s way. The season came and went without any sightings, but when I checked my trail cameras I saw that the buck walked inside 20 yards of one particular of my stands on opening morning throughout the first half-hour of daylight. Yep, an additional near miss.
I grew quite concerned when none of my cameras captured a photo of Curfew following opening day, and I was left to assume that he either got shot or left the home. Soon after one more complete week without having a photo, I lastly got a grainy image of a large buck at the quite edge of the camera’s variety. I felt confident it was him, but I couldn’t be particular. Then, on Dec. 20, I got a beautiful picture of the deer that left no doubt that my pursuit of Curfew was far from more than. In truth, round two was just about to commence.
Curfew survived a specific, two-day gun season in late December and also the 4-day muzzleloader season in early January. Mother Nature did her part to aid by blasting the area with the nastiest winter climate all year, which truly limited possibilities for black-powder enthusiasts. I was able to devote time in a ground blind where I was lucky enough to observe Curfew from a distance and find out even a lot more about his wintering location.
My operate schedule gets actually busy for the duration of January, so I was only able to locate about 5 days on the calendar when I could hunt prior to archery season ended. At one point, I believed it would be greatest to give up and concentrate on locating Curfew’s sheds in the spring, but I knew I would regret it all summer season if I didn’t give it a single final shot.
On Jan. 14, I loaded up a couple of stands and headed out to location them in areas I felt gave me a reasonable chance. If the wind was wrong for one stand I would just pick the other, as they had been about 300 yards apart. I laughed to myself as I assumed I was most likely the only person still hanging stands that time of year, but at least I would know I gave it every thing I had even if I came up empty-handed.
Despite my enthusiasm the day before, it was all I could do to get myself out of bed the subsequent morning. In reality, I lingered at my residence and ended up not obtaining to the farm as early as I must have. I checked the wind when I arrived and chose my stand accordingly. I spooked many deer on my way in, and it was already shooting light when I finally pulled my bow up. I scolded myself for getting so sloppy, particularly when I was trying to pull off what seemed like the not possible.
It was a busy morning in the deer woods, as I saw many does and even watched a couple of yearling bucks sparring about 100 yards to my north. It wasn’t terribly cold, and the snow was truly starting to melt as the sun rose over the hillside. Regardless of the outcome, I was glad I pushed myself out the door.
About 150 yards beyond the sparring bucks I noticed a single deer feeding in an opening. Hunting by way of my binoculars there was no mistaking that it was Curfew. I watched him make his way gradually in my path prior to disappearing in a ravine. He didn’t quickly come out, so I assumed he would bed there for the day. Just seeing him sharpened my focus, and I could feel my enthusiasm level rising.
I saw several does moving by way of the location and most kept their distance till two adults decided they would comply with my boot prints directly under my stand. An sincere estimate of the odds of my hunt continuing without having becoming detected and referred to as out by the old nannies would be about ten percent, at very best.
Maybe it was all the difficult perform I had put in and I was getting rewarded for not giving up, but luck was on my side in far more techniques than a single. Shortly after those does passed without spooking, Curfew emerged from the ravine and headed in my path.
The old buck moved gradually toward the shooting lane I had predicted, and I tried to calm my nerves as I realized that this was genuinely going to come about. He stopped completely at 35 yards and I slowly lowered my sight pin to his chest. As I touched off the shot, I was horrified, as I knew I wasn’t really set. I watched in disbelief as the arrow sailed more than his back and stuck harmlessly in the ground.
The now-alerted buck took two huge leaps and then stopped to assess the predicament. Clearly, he didn’t know where the noise came from, so he wasn’t sure what his ideal course of action should be. My emotion went from heartbreak to a renewed sense of hope as Curfew calmed down and started feeding toward me. I gradually pulled an additional arrow from my quiver and got prepared for a prospective second chance.
As he produced his way closer, I ranged an location ahead of him where it looked like I had adequate of an opening to slip my arrow via. Again the distance was 35 yards. This time my nerves were replaced by adrenaline, and there was no way I was going to miss twice. I couldn’t wait to redeem myself. It seemed like it took him an hour to cover just a handful of yards, but he ultimately continued into the opening with his vitals in full view.
This time I settled my pin calmly behind his shoulder and released the arrow. It seemed like slow motion as I watched it bury deep into Curfew’s chest cavity. Like a bolt of lightning, he erupted into a dead sprint through the woods, with no care for the obstacles in his way. Soon after a few seconds, there was total silence. I never ever heard him fall, but I could stick to a huge blood trail in the snow with my binoculars to where he went out of sight.
I collapsed onto the seat of my stand and just sat there while the adrenaline eased out of my physique. I replayed the journey that brought me to that point in my thoughts. It is that feeling only an archery hunter understands, but it seemed ten occasions as intense given the situations.
Not wanting to take anything for granted, I known as my pal Zac and asked him to assist me with the trail. He arrived about an hour later and we speedily followed the trail to my downed buck. I hit my knees in both exhaustion and appreciation for the relationship I had with Curfew, and I stared from a distance before ultimately putting my hands on him.
I have had a lot of proud moments as a bowhunter more than the years, but absolutely nothing tops the feeling I had when I ultimately ran my hand along Curfew’s side. I spent months pursuing this deer and had an extraordinary respect for his potential to elude me and a lot of other hunters. It took almost everything I had to lastly catch up with him, and even then it took a lot of luck to ultimately reach the best of the mountain. It was the ultimate challenge, and I proved a lot to myself in the approach.
Ohio bowhunter Nick Pinizzotto is president of the National Deer Alliance, an organization devoted to wild deer conservation and protecting America’s deer-hunting heritage. Click right here for a lot more info on the NDA, or to register for a cost-free alliance membership.
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