This hunting season has been nothing but hard work, patience, dedication… rain!
On the morning of New Jersey bow season opener, it was pouring rain, and of course I went out in it… but saw nothing moving in the area. Later, I went back out for an evening hunt and I had three bucks come out to me at the same time, following one another. However, I was unable to harvest one of those bucks, because for early bow season, it’s “earn a buck,” which means you must harvest a doe first. Nonetheless, opening day was exciting with all the buck action I was seeing, and it gave me even more confidence for the rest of the season.
Wanted: Solo Doe
I sat just about every evening after work, waiting for that solo doe to walk in, and I just was having no luck. I was seeing deer, but they were either too far away, with fawns, or were bucks.
Finally, on September 19th, I kicked off my 2018 hunting season when I harvested a mature solo doe with my bow. I couldn’t have been more thankful!
I continued to check the trail cameras and scout new areas, looking to punch my buck tag. There were numerous young bucks coming to the bait or checking out the area I was hunting, but not any buck I wanted to fill my tag with. All the bucks I was seeing still needed a few years to reach maturity.
October was about the same as September, as I saw young bucks and does coming in. I was able to harvest another doe that came in with a broken leg and could barely walk.
As I continued checking trail cams, a couple of our shooters were hitting our bait piles or scrapes, but just at night. They became nocturnal and only does were coming during shooting light. November was coming, and that meant rut season for bucks. And, muzzle loader season was right around the corner.
I took the time on the weekends to shoot my muzzle loader to make sure it was dialed in for the first days of the season. I sat both days at the end of November and I was able to lock in on a mature doe, 80 yards out in the field. She only ran about 30 yards until we found her.
The following week for us was 6-day firearm, and I knew that any deer we’ve had on camera will soon be moving all over, so we would likely have a chance to see new bucks come in the area. However, 6-day firearm came and went and I still had my muzzle loader buck tag waiting to be punched. I continued to sit the days that were open for muzzle loader season, hoping to punch my buck tag before the year was up.
Muzzle Loader Season Magic
That day finally came, December 26, 2018 at 3:38 pm! That is when the wait finally ended and I was able to fill my last tag for muzzle loader, and fill it with an incredible buck. I had to work the morning of the 26th at 5 am until 1:30 pm. I got home, changed, and my dad and I went out to both sit in an evening stand with the muzzle loader.
I got in the stand around 2 pm. The wind was blowing in my favor, the weather was perfect, and it was quiet. Around 2:20 pm, I kept hearing something to my left but saw it was just some squirrels chasing each other. I turned to look to my right… and that’s when I caught a glimpse of his antlers.
The only thing I could see at first was the crab claw on the left side. When he walked a little farther out of the laurels he turned to look next to him and that’s when I knew he was a shooter. My heart started to race, my breathing got heavy, and my hands started to shake. I reached to grab my gun, although very slowly, since he kept looking around curious about something. His tail was going up and down and he acted calm as he walked the area.
I finally got the gun half way onto the shooting rail when he turned to look in my direction. I thought he could hear my breathing, because in my head, I thought I was so loud. So, I hid my mouth in my scarf and took a deep breath.
Please Mr. Buck, Turn Broadside
I moved the gun up to look at him through the scope. I still couldn’t believe this buck just walked out in front of me. And, it was a buck we had never seen before. He went 10 yards behind the pile and made a half circle and then looked straight toward me. I had the cross hairs directly on his chest and was debating about shooting him right there. I thought to myself “he’s going to take two steps left or right to be broad side and that’s when I’ll shoot.”
Sure thing, he took two steps to his left looking to my right, stood completely broadside, and I knew that was my shot.
Breathe… Trigger… Smoke… Buck Down!
I took one last deep breath and squeezed the trigger. Through the black powder smoke, I saw him jump in the air and do the famous kick, and took off. I watched him run directly away from me and then I heard the crashing and saw the white of his tail and that was it.
Now, my nerves kicked in again and my heart was racing. I took a deep breath and couldn’t believe what had just happened. My dad heard my shot from across the field and texted me to ask if that was me who shot.
I was in total shock. We waited a good 45 minutes until we went to go look. My dad stayed in his stand hoping something would come out since it was still early.
My boyfriend came to help me track. We bean following the blood trail, and not 50 yards away, we saw his white belly sticking out in all the green laurels. I couldn’t believe that I harvested this amazing, mature whitetail buck! Especially since it was my first buck with my CVA Muzzle loader!! This was definitely an N1 Moment that I will never forget!
The following is how my wife turned her pick-pocket skills into an East Tennessee fly fishing surprise and an N1 Moment for me.
Fly Fishing experience?
I had dabbled in fly fishing while in college, but I hadn’t done it in years and would still be considered very much a rookie fly fisherman.
Then, in 2013, while on a family vacation to Sevierville, Tennessee, my wife surprised me with a guided fly fishing trip. She had arranged for me to go on an all-day, smallmouth bass fishing float with Frontier Anglers TN.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fun. They are very aggressive fish and are a blast to catch. But, when you put a hook N1 with a fly rod, the experience goes to another level.
Frontier Anglers TN owner, Josh Pfeiffer, was my guide on this extremely hot July day. But, although the weather was sweltering hot, the fishing was hot as well.
Unfortunately, in addition to hooking several nice smallmouth, I also hooked Josh’s hat 3 consecutive casts (I told you I was a fly fishing rookie, remember?)
Thank goodness for patient fishing guides.
I tucked that trip away in the unforgettable outdoor moments files, but didn’t fish the area again… until 2018. And, this trip was as much of a surprise as the last one!
It was Father’s Day, 2018. My wife and two daughters gave me a few gifts like they do every year. The last gift was an envelope. I opened it up, and inside was a gift certificate for… you guessed it, a fly fishing trip with Josh Pfeiffer. And while I was certainly excited about getting to go fly fishing again with Josh, there was more to the story…
About a month prior to receiving this gift, I thought it would be great to contact Josh and see if we could set up a time to do a little fly fishing and film some instructional fishing videos.
Even after 5 years, I still had his business card in my wallet. So, I emailed him to see what he thought of my idea. He emailed me back and said he might be interested in working something out. But, I got sidetracked and never closed the deal.
My pick-pocket wife
My wife, who had no idea I had been communicating with Josh, thought that sending me fishing for the weekend would be a great Father’s Day idea. But, she couldn’t remember anything about who had taken me five years earlier. So what did she do? She went through my wallet, of course!
She found Josh’s business card and called him to book the trip. I later asked Josh if he thought it was strange that both my wife and myself were separately contacting him. He said he wasn’t really sure what to think, so he didn’t say anything to my wife. Smart man.
Fly Fishing with an old friend
So, a few weeks later, I was back on the water with Josh, five years removed from my last fly fishing trip with him. On this second trip, we fished for trout. And just like the previous trip, Josh’s knowledge of East Tennessee fly fishing didn’t disappoint. Over a two day span, I caught close to 30 rainbow trout. And while I love to put a hook N1, that was only part of what made the trip so special.
I wanted to go fly fishing again with Josh. My wife wanted me to go fly fishing with Josh. But, neither of us knew what the other was thinking. What resulted was a great surprise, a few laughs, and some great fishing.
I thought to myself, you know, this is what we always say at N1 Outdoors. It’s not the size of the fish or the wild game. It’s the unforgettable moments and memories that are made outdoors with friends and family. That’s what we love to celebrate. This trip was no different.
I’ll do some East Tennessee fly fishing again… and this time it will be a lot sooner than five years!
Thanksgiving morning of 2016 will be one I will always remember. I sat quietly in my climber that morning overlooking the creek bottom that runs through the property. The sun came up and the thick fog that engulfed the hardwoods slowly lifted.
It was a quiet and beautiful morning, and I felt blessed to be in the woods as the sun started hitting the forest floor. I had a case knife in my pocket… but more on that later.
There is not, and never has been for me, something as serene as sitting N1 of God’s carefully prepared landscapes, watching the sun rise and fall over you as the world awakens or quietly falls asleep.
It is those times that I am reminded that no matter what is going on in the hustle and bustle that seems wrong, the sun is still going to come up, and the oaks will still drop their acorns the next day. In other words, nature doesn’t know of the hardships or blessings you may be experiencing. It just is, and it just does, exactly as it was told to do by God. That has always been reason enough for me to escape to the woods.
But, this morning in particular would prove to be one of even greater blessing. I was in the woods, with a Case knife in my pocket. So, here is where the story gets good…
At roughly 7:30 that morning the fog had finally lifted enough to have decent visibility. The animals around me had started their daily routines. I decided that I would rattle a couple minutes, in about 20-second intervals.
For whatever reason, I like to grunt once or twice in between the rattle sequences. So that’s what I did, I rattled about 20 seconds and then waited about 20 seconds and then rattled again, so on and so forth. I did that for two minutes while hitting my grunt four or five times.
When I was satisfied that I had the attention of any buck around me, I quit and waited about 2 minutes and then I hit my doe bleat. In my head, that is when things get serious. If I was a buck I would be thinking, not only are two unknown bucks sparring on my property, they have a doe ready and willing with them. That’s my train of thought anyway. So, I put my calls down and waited.
That’s when it hit me. The sausage biscuit I had eaten an hour earlier had to have a final resting place… and it needed to get there in a hurry.
I climbed down the tree and walked off about 20 yards and did the deed. I quickly realized that if I didn’t have a napkin in my pocket, then I was going to be leaving with one wool sock less than what I had arrived with! On a 37-degree morning, with wet boots, that didn’t seem like a good idea!
Well, what’s a guy to do in such a predicament? I did the only thing I could think of… I pulled out my trusty Case knife and cut a square out of the front left leg of my flannel boxer shorts and my problem was solved.
Always carry a case pocket knife N1 of your pockets when you go to the woods; you never know how useful it can be!
I made my way up the tree and sat there thinking I had ruined my hunt. I thought about getting down but I thought to myself, nah, I’m here now, I may as well keep hunting. My Dad always said, “you can’t kill’em at home.”
Well, It hadn’t been 10 minutes since I climbed back up the tree and 15 minutes since I quit my now certified “outdoors with Hunter Bennett proven rattling sequence” (for $29.95 retail price I will email you a demonstration video) that a doe came prancing into my area.
She walked right beside the shallow leaf grave of the sausage biscuit, and she was very curious, looking around as if searching for the deer that were fighting and that lonesome and willing doe she had heard bleat a few minutes prior.
As I watched her I heard another deer coming in the same way as her, but this one was different. He was being very cautious! I could hardly hear him and would just catch glimpse of movement every so often.
I moved my gun forward about 10 yards and found a hole to shoot in through the bushes. He finally made his way into that spot and I put the crosshairs on the center of his shoulder and gave him a lead deposit. He dropped in his tracks.
I was still unsure of exactly what I had killed. In my mind, I knew it was a big buck, I just wasn’t sure how big. I waited about 10 minutes. Without so much as a kick out of him, I decided it was safe to go check him out.
The rest is history. A fine morning to be N1 of my deer stands!