It was noon on my first day of hunting in North Carolina. I just finished hanging my treestand at my primary hunting spot. I hunted a different spot that morning from the ground. I did see a few does early in the morning, but no bucks. I had a very positive feeling about this hunting trip.
I really liked my primary hunting spot. I was hunting a power line clearcut that sliced through thick forest for miles and miles. On my left was a dried out swamp. On my right were acres and acres of mature cedars trees that I assumed the forest service planted a long time ago. I could tell that humans were involved because the cedar trees were planted in perfect uniform rows that formed a large grid. This grid pattern jumped out at me from the aerial photos I had studied months prior for this trip.
As I sat up high in my treestand, I wondered exactly when and where the deer would show up. I was sitting in a tree right on the edge of the power line clearcut. I had an excellent view and could see far up and down the power lines in both directions. Farther out around me was very thick forest. I was sitting right in between the swamp and the ceder trees. Any deer skirting the edge of the swamp or cedars would eventually have to cross the power line clearcut in front of me. I estimated my maximum shot opportunity to be about 150 yards up and down the power lines. This gave me a total shot opportunity of 300 yards. This was a nice luxury. I was used to bow hunting thicker areas with shorter shot opportunities. I had a feeling that hunting these power lines was a wise choice.
Hours had passed since I hung my treestand. The sun started getting low on the horizon. I figured I had about an hour of shooting light remaining. Then I finally heard something walking through the cedars off to my right. It was very dry, so I heard every step the animal made as it approached. The walking sound grew louder. It was close but still out of view behind some cedars. My heart sank when the sound of the animal started to diminish as it walked away from my position. The forest became quiet again. I told myself to stay vigilant.
After a few minutes, I heard the animal again. The sound of its steps was getting louder, so I knew it was coming back. Finally, I saw some movement in the brush 50 yards across the power line clearcut. A decent sized buck emerged from the cedars. My adrenaline started flowing through my veins! I could see a rack, but something was missing. The buck only had one side of his rack. The other side was gone, except for a stump at its base. It probably broke its rack while fighting with another buck. I normally wouldn’t waste a buck tag on a deer like this, but since I had more than one buck tag in my pocket, I decided to go for it.
The buck stepped out into the power line clearcut. I slowly raised my rifle and had the buck in my scope’s field of view. The buck was walking totally broadside: a perfect shot angle. As I started to settle my crosshairs behind his shoulder, my arm accidentally bushed up against the tree. It made the slightest noise, but the buck’s excellent hearing immediately picked it up. He quickly stopped, turned a bit, and faced my direction. His eyes and ears were fixated on my tree. Lucky for me, his attention seemed focused at the base of my tree, not 18 feet up. The buck probably thought there was another deer or other forest animal in this vicinity. My camouflage clothing was doing its job so he didn’t see me hovering above.
I resettled my crosshairs on his chest and fired. The buck instantly dropped in his tracks. I breathed a sigh of relief because this buck almost busted me. I climbed down from my treestand and tagged him. He was not a huge racked monster, but a decent buck to take my first day hunting in North Carolina. This hunting trip was off to a great start.
I was very optimistic about this primary hunting spot. I still had four more days to hunt, so I decided to hunt other areas for the next couple of days. I thought I should to give my primary hunting spot a rest and then come back to it at the end of my hunting trip. The worse thing a hunter can do is to over hunt a hot spot.
After a few unsuccessful hunting days, I moved back to my primary spot where I shot the half-racked buck on day one. This time I moved in before the sun came up. Before I climbed up into my treestand, I decided to use an old trick-of-the-trade: I hung cotton balls soaked in estrus doe urine. I hung a cotton ball 50 yards down the power lines in each direction. Hopefully this would entice any bucks passing though the thick brush to turn and approach the power lines before they walked downwind of my position.
The morning was calm and cool as daylight approached. I looked down at my watch. Legal shooting hours had just started. A moment later, I heard a twig snap off in the distance. It sounded like it came from behind me and off to the right. I stood up, turned and listened. I was pretty sure the animal was walking in the cedars. The sound was getting louder. It definitely sounded like a deer and it was walking in my direction.
In a standing position, I waited for the animal to appear. To my delight, a large rack slowly materialized above the brush. It looked like a really nice buck! All I could see was his large rack, head, and neck. The rest of his body was still in the thick brush. I knew taking a shot at him, at this point, would be too risky. I told myself to be patient and wait until the buck attempted to cross the power line clearcut in front of me. Here comes that adrenaline again!
The buck slowly and cautiously worked his way up to the power lines. I think he smelled the estrus doe urine. He was getting closer and closer. I kept him in my scope’s crosshairs as I waited for him to fully show himself. He stopped briefly, just a few feet away from the edge of the brush, and took one last look around. He resumed walking and his body slowly emerged out into the power line clearcut. At only 15 yards away, all of his vitals were now unobstructed from any brush. I settled my crosshairs on its chest and fired; the buck crumpled to the ground.