It's 0720 in the morning and I’ve switched from a bow to my muzzleloader since I’m so tired of being skunked because of branches and deer just being out of range. As I sit in my stand I wonder if today will be the day that I finally kill a deer on my own property. Harvesting a deer on a plot of Earth that I own has always been a dream of mine since I was just a young'un.
Thinking back to my childhood, I remember how we did not have enough land of our own to hunt when I was growing up. So, the only time I could go out and hunt was when I received an invitation from someone else to join them on their property. Luckily, after I was old enough to drive, I could head to my great grandfather’s property to hunt with him and my cousin Moon. He owned 40 acres off of Dirty Foot Rd, a road name that would only make sense coming from the Appalachian County of West Virginia.
We’d sit in his deer condominium; the giant tree stand that was built for him to make it a little easier for an 88-year-old man to smoke some whitetail. We’d sit there for hours and to pass the time we’d tell bullshit stories or out and out lies. Pap Bosley would sometimes give me pearls of wisdom like "never let your wife blindfold you," or "people don’t change so don’t even try, just drink beer in your kitchen alone instead." Thinking back, both sound like solid advice for a 16-year-old boy. But the one that stuck with me the most was, “Boy, buy land, they ain't making any more of it.”
Pap passed in 2003 and the land was gone, but the dream was not. During most of my 20’s and 30’s I was a transient drifter either by choice or by the Army’s orders. In either case I was unable to have a chunk of ground for myself, but I never stopped thinking about my dream. The one thing I knew was when I got out of the Army, I was finally going to own a bit of acreage that I could call my own and hunt. It took months of searching, but I finally found a small patch of ground, that was just under 20 acres and was mine and mine alone. Unfortunately, the first two years that I owned my house my job kept me out of the country for both of the hunting seasons. So in the fall of 2022 when my work schedule allowed me to pursue my dream of harvesting a deer on my own ground, I was willing to do anything to make this dream a reality.
During this season I have had some close calls. I’ve had bucks within 10 meters, but been so cagey that I couldn’t pull my bow string without alerting them to my presence. Other times I’ve watched a small 4 point come within 20 meters, always behind some branches, and stop two steps before a clear shooting lane and then leave the same obstructed path he took in. A black bear decided to walk in one day at dusk and blow out a deer that was at 40 meters behind some brush. You can now see my frustration.
It's now 0724 and light is just now starting to break here in the sunshine state. The woods are beginning to come alive. I glance over my right shoulder and like a damn ghost this deer has snuck in on me. He’s within 20 meters when I first see him, everything happened so quickly. He is now at 15 meters and close enough for me to make out his body and the beams of his antlers. I take aim and I squeeze the trigger. The rifle tears through the silence of the morning and the buck takes off towards the middle of my property. The phantom hauls ass to the tree line, and just before entering the woods he turns right, skirts the tree line around a bend, and is out of sight before I know it.
Everything happened so quickly, literal seconds between me seeing him and the shot. I sit there in silence, replaying what just happened. Then the uncertainty creeps in. Did I pull the shot? Did I miss completely? Did I just blow my first legitimate shot of taking a deer on my own property? I can't take it anymore, so after 30 minutes I get down from the stand to look for blood. I head to where he was standing and find some tracks, but no blood. My heart sinks. I keep following his tracks hoping to find a blood trail. Nothing. I hit the tree line and head right in the same direction he did. Still no blood.
Every step I take fills me with more and more doubt. I start to go around the small bend that the buck took just before he was gone from my sight, but still not a drop of blood. As I follow the tree line around the bend there is a break in the woods with a trail running through it. I turn left on to the trail and stop dead. He’s there. I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing. There in the middle of the trail is an abnormally large (by Florida standards) 8 point. This wave of emotion washes over me; from unbridled joy, to a sense of accomplishment of a lifelong dream, to even a little sadness that the men that taught me to hunt couldn’t be there with me to see it happen. As I walk up on my dream buck, I hear Pap Bosley’s voice say, “Boy, buy land, they ain't making any more of it."
Ya'll go check out Derick's blade company on Instagram @standtobladecompany. He does great work and sells high quality products that will last you a lifetime!