In the world of sports, occasionally you see one of those rare performances that just create legendary stories. Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points against the New York Knicks in 1962, Vince …
In the world of sports, occasionally you see one of those rare performances that just create legendary stories.
Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points against the New York Knicks in 1962, Vince Young’s performance in the 2006 Rose Bowl, Randy Moss catching three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns—performances that stand the test of time.
Every year, Thanksgiving means family gatherings, turkey dinners and football all day long on Turkey Day.
For my family, it means trekking to West Virginia and putting in another week of deer hunting, hoping to pull the big one off the hill and fill the freezer full of venison.
The area we hunt is an old coal strip that’s not been in service for several years.
Going back over the last decade, the hunting has been certainly up and down.
From Hurricane Sandy devastating the deer herd in the state in 2012, to hemorrhagic fever, among other things, it’s been a mixed bag of hunting for us.
If we’re lucky, one of the group, consisting of myself, my dad, my uncles and grandpa, might be lucky enough to get a moderate sized six or an eight point.
But one thing we’ve noticed in the past several years is we’re seeing more and more deer—and not just more deer in general, but more deer with big racks.
This year alone, we counted upwards of 10 BIG deer.
The hill has been good to me for the past several years. In 2015, I ended a long week (and a five-year drought) with a nice 10-point buck on my last day.
I followed up with a five-point, albeit smaller, in 2019.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I chose not to travel in 2020, but last year, I bagged a beautiful eight-point.
So entering this year, there certainly wasn’t pressure on me to take a smaller buck by any stretch, allowing me to be much more selective than in years’ past.
Last Monday morning, I got to my stand, weathering a brutal 18 degree morning and settled in for the week’s hunt.
Monday wasn’t as eventful for me, but around 11 a.m., I heard a shot ring out from near where my Uncle Gary had his stand set up and I turned on the radio and heard he knocked down a monster eight-point. A few hours later, I heard another shot ring out coming from near where Grandpa was set up and sure enough, he shot a dandy of an eight-point.
Now the pressure was on me and my dad to get ours. The thing about hunting, you’ve got to be patient and willing to just become one with nature and allow the deer to come to you.
All day Monday, I saw three does and a spike—certainly nothing I was interested in taking on opening day.
Later in the afternoon, a third shot rang out from our hill and sure enough, Dad shot a heck of a 10 point.
With the first day’s light fading fast over the rolling West Virginia mountains, I knew I would have to remain patient in order to get mine this year.
Tuesday came and went without much excitement at all. The only deer I saw all day came around 2:30 in the afternoon—two spikes, which again I wasn’t going to harvest knowing the number of big bucks still roaming the ridge.
I can’t really explain it but Wednesday morning I just had a gut feeling something was going to happen, so I got to my stand around 6:30 a.m. settled into my stand and had not had my gear situated and been settled for more than 10 minutes when a doe came trotting around my stand and wasn’t 10 yards from the steps leading up to my platform. So I settled in and watched her and coming from behind me, I heard another deer rustling through the reeds.
Thinking this was the same pair of does I saw two days prior, I sat my rifle against my window and just happened to glance out and saw a monster rack trudging its way through the weeds down in front of me, following the doe.
Having just enough daylight on the ridge, I quickly gathered my rifle, pulled up and fired a shot.
Immediately, Dad and my uncle came over to help me track him, as the deer took off and bolted over the hill down into the ravine.
As more and more daylight began to fill my general area, my heart began to sink as there was no sign I actually hit the deer—no blood, no fur, nothing.
Once we found his trail, we were able to follow his path over the hillside and not 20 yards down the hill, my monster six point laid on his side.
Any time the bulk of us can bring a deer off the hill, it’s a great season.
But for us to pull four BIG deer in the manner we did, it really made for the best hunting season we’ve ever had.
We definitely got our fill of venison to fill the freezer, and several new wall ornaments to hang.
Everyone has their own list of things to be thankful for and in a week of reflection of giving thanks for everything in your life, I can truly say I’m blessed to have etched another chapter in our book of stories together.
One of Grandpa’s favorite things is camaraderie with friends and family, swapping stories of yesteryear and reminiscing on trips of the past.
Growing up, I would always listen to great hunts or fishing trips Dad, Grandpa and family and friends participated.
After the week we had last week, it’s safe to say our 2022 hunting trip is right among the very best of the stories we’ve been part of.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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