7 Awesome Deer Hunting Firsts
Russ Chastain 11.17.17
Even after 35+ years of deer hunting, there are still plenty of new things to see in the woods. Here are some of the firsts I experienced during a recent deer hunt.
1) Tripod, the Three-Legged Deer
I was hunting a food plot in unseasonable heat when I finally spotted a deer. It was feeding on acorns and wasn’t clearly visible through a screen of brush, but eventually I got a good look at it. It was a young buck, 1.5 years old, also known as a “long yearling.” And its left front leg was useless.
The hoof was curled upward in a way that a deer could probably do at will, but the animal was clearly unable to make it move. It dangled there like an upside-down question mark.
Although the poor little rascal couldn’t paw at a rut scrape, we did see him challenge other young bucks and join in on a doe chase. His meager antlers were also odd, and so tiny that I never could get a very good look at them.
More power to ya, Tripod!
2) Yearlings Nursing From a Doe
During one PM hunt, I watched a mature doe and a trio of yearling fawns grazing in a large food plot for hours. Whether the fawns were all hers I don’t know, but I suspect not.
After more than 2.5 hours, during which all the deer had steadily grazed, I noticed one of the fawns throw its flag (tail) in the air and run towards mama, who was not in clear view. I moved my head to the side so I could see her, and was rewarded with one of the most awesome sights I’ve ever seen while hunting.
Two large fawns — we’re talking deer that should have been fully weaned, and had been eating solid food for hours as I’d watched — were hungrily nursing on that doe. She stood stock-still as they worked her udders rather violently.
Their tails wagged with involuntary glee as they drew their dessert, and the near deer’s tail was corkscrewing and flapping every which way… until the doe shook them off.
Soon thereafter, they strolled away in single file; having created another superb moment in this deer hunter’s memory.
3) Acorn Vacuums
One morning, I sat in a low box blind and waited for critters to arrive. When one did, that doe went directly to the edge of the woods opposite the stand and began hunting for acorns.
Acorns are sorta scarce this year, likely due to last fall’s drought, and in the stillness I could easily hear her breath as she sniffed and snuffled for those tiny oak nuts.
A few minutes later, a 7-point buck emerged, following in her tracks. He approached her with lust in his eye. “Hey baby,” he suavely purred, as he sauntered towards her with his head held low. “Let’s you and me — oooo, acorns!”
And so he, too, commenced to sniff and snort and eat acorns. Which must have cured his amorousness, since he simply strolled off into the woods when he was done.
I’ve seen deer eat acorns plenty of times, but this was the first time I’d watched AND heard a buck and doe sniffing them out right under my nose.
4) A Spotted Fawn in November
That evening, I sat in a tall ladder stand as a gray sky spat cold water at me and the wind drove it home. I’d seen several deer, all young bucks of one variety or another… and then I looked to my left and saw something way out there.
I quickly scoped the critter, and soon realized that I was seeing a mature doe. And then something else moved, something small… and speckled. What the? Sure enough, I was seeing the first spotted fawn I’ve ever laid eyes on while hunting deer in November.
As the doe walked away, her tiny offspring leaned against her side.
Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
5) Buck on Buck Mounting Action
This was… weird.
I’d been watching a young spike buck who thought he was the king of the plot. He strutted around like a boss. And at one point, he approached a young buttonhead (6 month buck) and began to say hello.
Things got uncomfortable pretty quickly, as they began licking each other’s faces and ears. Er…
And then the buttonhead mounted the spike! The buck on the bottom didn’t seem to mind, glancing back over his shoulder as if to say, “Really?”
The BH soon gave it up and the two of them started rubbing heads as if they were sparring, and before long they were both working the same licking branch in a rut scrape.
After the younger young ‘un moved off in search of grub, the spike worked that scrape like a monster buck, licking and pawing and peeing as he was a true stud.
I hope he comes around again in about three years so I can see what he’s become.
6) The Half-Ten
During an epic morning of hunting during which I saw 15 deer, most of them chasing or being chased, I saw one of the most impressive bucks I’ve ever refrained from shooting.
I’d been seeing a lot of action, which was good to keep my blood pumping on that cold, blustery day, when out strolled a buck a little after 9:00. He was muscular and lithe and fit, with a swollen rutting-buck neck. His right antler was tall and swept far out past his ear, and featured four long tines branching off of the length main beam.
His left antler? It wasn’t there.
Now, I know that many deer break antlers… but this was different. You see, we have game cam photos of this buck in velvet, and in every picture there is simply no antler on the left. It appears as if there is a base there, but that seems to be about it.
I really wanted a close look at this buck’s head, but I refrained. He seems to still be young and should only get better. I hope to cross paths with him again next year…
7) Deer O Rama
On the final hunt of the trip, I sat in the cold, blowing rain and watched the occasional young buck for most of the evening… then a doe and some fawns emerged, and a young buck chased them off into the woods… and before I knew it, those deer and a pile of others were back in the field before me.
I’d never before seen so many mature does in one group, and they milled and circled and chased one another and reared up to flail foes with front hooves, always with several dramas playing themselves out at once. I couldn’t keep track, and I kept hoping to see a big buck arrive to start romancing the does. None arrived that I could see — but ol’ Half-Ten did make an appearance.
I’m sure much of this is old hat to many whitetail hunters, especially those from historically deer-rich states in the north. But to this Florida boy, who used to hunt several weekends in a row just to see a deer, it was pretty dang amazing.
I didn’t drop a hammer on this trip, but it’s still ranked as one of my all-time best — especially since these are just some of the highlights of the hunt.
Here’s hoping your season is going as well as mine.