First Sit
Field & Stream|Volume 125 - Issue 4, 2020
An icebreaker outing in a pristine spot produces the rut hunt of a lifetime
Will Brantley

LOOKING AT THE 8-POINTER I’d missed not an hour earlier, I felt good about my decision to be such a bow snob. I’d almost grabbed my crossbow in the morning, and had I done so, I’d have killed that buck less than five minutes into the new day. Instead, I’d brought my compound, misjudged the distance by 10 yards, and sailed one right under his belly.

Because I’d missed, I was still in the tree when a far bigger 8 chased a doe to 75 yards. They stopped in a patch of honeysuckle, where I could see the buck’s tines flashing in the sunlight. That’s when the one I’d missed reappeared and eased toward the thicket, one cautious step at a time, as if he knew better but couldn’t help himself. The big buck burst from the honeysuckle, ears pinned, and rammed the smaller one in the ribs, thrashing him into the dirt, and then he chased him out of sight. But not out of earshot. The next five minutes was a cacophony of violence; it sounded as if the big 8 had the smaller one stuck onto his antlers and was plowing a swath through the timber with him.

Meanwhile, the doe stepped out of the honeysuckle and began browsing casually on turnip greens. I knew her respite would be short-lived, though, because sure as the world turns, that big buck would be coming back to her. I clipped my release to the D-loop and waited.

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