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    Buck fever & the sweet taste of redemption - 03 Dec, 2019

    This year my wife, son, and I were invited up to Spencer, WV for Thanksgiving at my in-laws farm. My wife's Uncle owns a 400 acre tract out on the edge of Roane County and was gracious enough to allow me to hunt on his property for the 2019 West Virginia Buck Firearm season opener. Buck Firearm season runs 11/25/2019 through 12/7/2019.

    11/24: Pre-scouting: We arrived into town a bit late and with sunset at 5:15pm I only had a few hours to scout prior to the season opener on 11/25. The property is approximately 400 total acres made up of hills, hollers, ridges, fields, and dense pine stands. I was able to located a fresh rub and scrape in a secluded pine stand that I thought looks as good as any to sit day 1.

    11/25: Buck Firearm Season Day 1: Skunked: Got out the door at 5am. Crisp 22*F with zero wind. Hiked 2 miles back into the holler where I found the rub and scrape scouting. I position myself beside a tree, facing the sign, 50 yards out, and 5 yards up the adjacent bank. By the time I am seated my Fitbit silent alarm goes off to let me know it's now 6am. Complete dead silence until 6:40ish when I hear a doe blowing nearby in the dark. I didn't make the connection then but I'm fairly certain she winded me even in the still morning. I sit this spot until 7:30am before moving. I spend the day hiking a total of 15 miles looking for sign and bumping deer in the process. I located several bedding sites, travel corridors, and lots of sign so the day was not a total bust. I head back in at 5:45pm skunked on day 1.

    11/26: Buck Firearm Season Day 2: Buck Fever: Got out the door a little bit later today; Alarm woke me at 6am and out the door by 6:30am. Temp was still a bit chilly for this Florida boy @ 27*F and a slight breeze from the NW. I decided I was going to hunt a travel route I found on a ridge connecting the smaller stub field on the East side of the property to larger field on the far West side. I situate myself on an embankment overlooking the holler the route traversed with the small stub field over my right shoulder. Not long after I am seated, approximately 7am, I see a young 4pt with long forked mains chasing a hot doe. A couple of minutes pass before the doe stops and blows several times like she winded me but never faces in my exact direction. After she calmed down they both head down along the travel route through the holler with the 4pt broadside at 25 yards; I let him walk. Throughout the day I see 6 does and 3 bucks cross my path on this route. As last light approached I hear some commotion just out of my view along the small East field and tree line edge. Doe followed by 4 pointer from this morning and another 2 pt spike. More commotion, sounds bigger this time. Young 6 pt walks out onto travel route, I have him broadside at 25 yards, place the retical on the back of the left scapula, pull trigger, and nothing. Buck Fever!! Did not fully disengage my safety. I lift my head slightly to look down at my safety and the 6 pointer bolts out of there. I sit until shooting hours expire and then beat myself up about it for the remainder of the night.

    11/27: Buck Firearm Season Day 3: Redemption: Today is not an ideal hunting day and the forecast along with the previous days results have me a bit discourage before even putting my boots on. Highs in the 40s, 80% chance of rain from 10am until 4pm, 25 knt sustained winds with gust up to 50. Temperature aside I feel like I'm back in FL with the rain and winds. Morning hunt is a bust but I figure the weather will help drop the hunting pressure slightly and help mask any rustling in the leaves when getting into my spot later on. Rain breaks around 1pm however the winds stay strong. I get geared up, slip into my spot around 2pm, and am situated overlooking the same travel route as the previous day with the small stub field over my right shoulder. 4:15 I hear some rustling over my right shoulder and turn just in time to see 2 does with the 6 pointer from the day before in pursuit. With all the wind I was not able to hear them until they were almost on top of me. All 3 enter the field to the south and are out of sight. I stay situated but begin to now watch both the holler and stub field. A short time later a mature 7 pointer comes out in a brisk stride headed diagonally across the stub field in the same direction as the previous 3. I had just enough time to bring my rifle to my chest, turn to the right at the hips, and squeeze off a shot. With the Buck quartering towards me @ 30 yards, the bullet entered his chest at the right shoulder, hit him directly in the heart, and exited the left rib cage. Upon being hit the buck turned 180* bounded once and piled up at the tree line where he landed. Checked time was 4:35pm 

    Not bad for my first Buck.

    3-5 years old, 7 points, 152 lbs

    Savage Axis .308 Realtree edition w/ Leupold VX-1 10x40

    Hornady SST .308 165 Grain w/ Ballistic tip