By: Wade Nolan Bowhunting Biologist
Well before dawn, Donn Chapman, myself and Reed and Candice drove over to my farm which is about 23 minutes to the south. They were all set up in ground blind locations. Donn’s set-up was across a beaver dam and near the base of a steep swampy hillside that necked horizontal traffic down to a bottleneck near the bottom. Reed and Candice were set up at a fence corner where my farm intersects a neighboring farm above a steep swampy gorge.
The deer trails twenty yards to the north were converging from 3 points and leading down the wet gorge. I was totally sold on the value of these two blind set-ups and expected bucks and does to be tagged that evening. Other than a few small bucks the fence intersection proved to be a nocturnal; route and Donn’s beaver dam set came up “dry”.
Let me diverge for a moment and take up the last word in the previous sentence … Dry. I had always wanted to develop a new set-up at the base of the slope where I placed Donn. Just a week ago I was scouting the region and I came upon a “Wade Idea” as my wife would call it. There is a fast running, narrow and deep creek that serves as a barrier to anyone wanting to reach the far side of the flat below the beaver dam. I felt challenged.
I was slipping along the creek one day and noticed a gift from God. There standing adjacent the stream was a dead but solid old oak tree that stood 45 feet tall. Its base was only 5 feet from the steep bank and my brilliant calculations resurrected from high school geometry class told me that if I cut that old acorn soldier down and if it fell perfectly, and didn’t break from the fall I’d have a natural bridge. Then I would have access to the inaccessible other side.
Long story made short, I borrowed a chain saw and dropped that oak across the stream. The guys on “Swamp Loggers” would have been proud of me. It was perfect. I had a bridge. I got done with the project just at dark so I returned the next morning. I showed up on that frosty morn with my ground blind in one hand and a plastic chair in the other. I was dressed in a lot of layers, long johns and fleece plus my new Muck boots. I walked right up to my ingenious bridge with total confidence and started across.
Everything was beautiful until my right boot slipped ever so slightly on the frosty log. Being full of confidence I simply adjusted my balance by leaning quickly to address for the complex weight and gravity vector I’d just encountered. It took about a millisecond for me to realize that my adjustment had been overdone and my fate was sealed. I appreciated the next second or two as I moved into slow-motion. My brain examined a lot of solutions, all of which proved flawed. With the grace of a drunken orangutan I flailed my arms briefly and then leaped for the shore I was facing. That put my splash down point at exactly mid stream.
The stream was totally clear and I’d judged it as about 4-5 feet deep. I only missed judged the depth by a foot or two as my head went totally under. It took only two breast strokes to propel me to where my Muck boots found the mucky bottom. After reaching my arm up onto the grassy bank I broke into uncontrolled laughter. What a dope, and no cameras to harness the event for YouTube and BowTube.
After clawing my way out I dashed across the log and fished out the floating blind which had gotten hung up on a snag downstream. Then figuring that I was already here, I set up the blind and then changed clothes at my buddies’ cabin. Needless to say, I felt a little apprehensive sending my friend Donn across the log at daybreak on day one of the hunt. As it turned out, he is better than me at “log balancing”.
This day proved special for my buddy, Bill Lee. He had taken his climber up Longfellow Bay and selected a tree near a hot spot we’d identified a year ago. Last year, I had shot a doe just upstream from his set up and seen an exceptionally wide 6-point buck. Bill spent the day in a Tulip Poplar tree and at 3:15 it paid off. He heard some commotion in the potato chip like leaves up the valley. Then a doe showed up being pursued by two bucks. They dashed around the brush like a couple of sex crazed squirrels then the doe stopped in a clearing.
The bucks were a little further out but one had stopped in a clearing at 32 yards. Although Bills eyes were focused on the incredible wide 8-point rack carried by the nearby buck, the other buck caused confusion. Buck #2 made him look like a yearling cull. Standing in the brush, fifteen yards further out, with his pearly antlers shining through the brush was a megabuck that would win an Alberta big buck contest. Bill’s attention had been divided. He was at full draw and had to make a decision quickly before the trio headed off after the panicked doe.
Bill Lee set his 30-yard pin on the wide 8 and touched off the arrow.
The love crazed buck took the arrow like a man and hardly flinched. The arrow was imbedded into his chest but that doe had his undying attention. The 2-inch wide Swhacker broadhead plowed into the vitals with the scissoring cutting blades swinging open an inch in after the bone chisel blades opened up the hide and ribs. Then he broke into a dash and followed the doe up the brushy hillside and out of sight. The crashing sound of success was comforting but dragging the heavy Ohio buck to the pontoon was brutal. Bill complained that the ultra wide antlers caught on everything and made the job especially difficult. Whaaaa…
Here is Bill Lee with his wide Ohio buck taken on Day 2 of the hunt.
Next: Day 3 …