A 20 Year Drought

by Jim Dean

7/06 Pennsylvania

20 years ago I'd shot an 8 point buck in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Since that time I'd shot only 1 spike buck, and 2 does.

The day before the 2005 NY buck/doe season we decided to take a look at my deer stand to verify it was still in good shape since the previous season. On our way into the stand we saw more buck sign than I can remember seeing. This would be our 3rd year hunting my buddies properties near Cortland, NY. The previous 2 season I'd scored on does and had only seen 1 buck . Unfortunately it was crossing in the late morning while I was approaching my stand and didn't offer a shot. My buddy Dave had scored on a nice 5 point in 2004, but had seen a couple of nicer 8 pointers off of his property line.

After verifying the stand looked good we went back to the house and sighted in the shotguns. We decided that since my stand offered the farthest shooting opportunities, I'd be shooting the more accurate of the 2 guns. Little did I know how important that decision would be on the following morning.

It took me a while to find my stand again in the early morning darkness. Eventually I got my bearings and climbed into my stand in the cold darkness of early morning. Throughout the morning, I saw 7 or 8 does, but no bucks. Around 10 am I heard a shot, and learned Dave's cousin Jimmy had scored on a nice 9 pointer. Then around 11:30 a doe appeared through some brush below the hillside that my stand looked over. She walked through an opening and was quickly into some more brush and disappearing. I realized that had that deer been a buck I wouldn't have had a shot because I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. I began paying more attention to this area in the hopes a buck would be following the doe . The rut seemed to be in full swing.

I saw nothing for the next hour or so but was determined to wait it out. The buck I'd seen the previous season had been moving late morning, at a time many hunters go in and grab lunch or some rest. All of sudden I saw antlers moving in the brush coming the opposite direction the doe had been traveling earlier. The deer had his head down and was moving with a purpose. I got my gun into position and held on the small opening I new was my only shooting lane. As the buck stepped into the open I let out a deer bleat. This was something I'd never tried before, but it worked like a charm. The buck stopped broadside and I took aim and fired. It dropped in its tracks 85 yards away. It had been 20 years since my last decent buck and this one was far nicer. All in all it was well worth the wait.