Since I posted this on the "check in thread" from 11/11 Veteran's day, many have been asking for the "hunt" story.
Small private property piece, surrounded by big ag fields. My parents purchased this lot back in 1960 or so. My father built this house with his own blood sweat and tears. I grew up in that home. My father wanted to spend his last days a year ago, looking out his window at the view he loved all his life. That wasn't meant to be - he needed full time hospice care so he spent his last days at the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice facility, which as about as good a view of the Kittatinny mountains and sunset as there can be. But I digress- he came to pass on my Son's 22nd birthday, the 27th of November, 2018. I took my best NJ buck ever days before he entered hospice. I took my first velvet buck (a 10pt) in early fall bow season this year - a true elusive old ghost that seemed impossible to even see let along kill. Feeling my dad'spirit and guidance all the way - the guy that got me into hunting at age 10.
Fast forward to veteran's day - I needed a change of pace and to get out of z5. Seeing the same small bucks every day and lots of doe, every day seemed like groundhog day. My zone 2 spot is basically a simple, late afternoon easy walk hunt but ONLY can do it if the wind is just a little better for me than for the deer. This time - I had the perfect wind, and set up in my Mother's woods glassing fields from afar. This area is overpopulated with doe, and I usually take some out early season and winter bow. But during the tail end of the rut, they need to be kept relaxed, un-pressured and barely hunted. Just like my zone 5 spots I had zero shooters on camera, but know that the potential for something good always exists this time of year - once rut peak has passed and the mature bucks start really extending their range.
I first glassed and ranged this buck at 350 yards an hour before dark. He cleared out an entire field of all doe. He looked quite massive from that distance - but what are the odds of him coming all the way across two fields to me? Slim to none - it would take some form of divine intervention one would think. With barely 10 minutes of shooting light left, I saw some does feeding out in the middle of the field I was near the edge of, as I was in my climber on a nice red oak. Time is running out, he is now center of field checking out each and every doe quite methodically. My heart is starting to race. No way this can happen - I have no live bait by me, no way his coming up in here. Then by some miracle - 5 doe come up the hedgerow and start feeding by my stand. The buck sees this and rapidly heads toward them. I grab my bow, the does break away and he follows one and enters my woods at 17 yards, stops, and SWHACK - yes I just felt like a 125gr, 2.25' swhacker kind of day. I had been queing up my COC VPA fixed blades all rut but figured i was 2 for 2 with the swhackers this year so why not? He took off but was immediately wobbly and tipped over barely 40 yards from my tree. Of course these BH's suck at penetration so I only got one hole on a double lung, but dead is dead and I would rather watch them drop than have to blood trail.
Again I had no pictures of this buck, was just hunting the potential for a shooter at the perfect phase of the rut on the perfect wind. Oh earlier just before this buck I saw a buck same area that was definitely a shooter but probably 130" or so, and I would have been ecstatic to have had him do this, But then this guy showed and must have scared that one off.
To see how it all played out - I am not this good. Lucky yes- but this hunt was definitely guided from above. Nobody can convince me otherwise. Those that know me know I love bowhunting whitetail deer, have learned a thing or two, and have a passion for only targeting mature bucks. I guess a personal goal was to someday get a NJ buck that broke the 150" barrier (gross P&Y score - not even caring about net). Never dreamed I would shatter that goal to the tune of 168 2/8". Of course it has to dry 58 ore days before I go see our favorite scorer Mark, probably at the UBNJ booth at the deer classic show. It will shrink a bit. No matter what it ends up "official", this was my buck of a lifetime.
This buck had quite the body on him as well, weighing 193 lbs on a certified scale. The meat supply will be overflowing now.
Thank you dad, for getting me into hunting, and bringing me this amazing animal, on the very land you bought when you didn't have two nickels to rub together.