Fifty-three hours. That’s how long I sat on a plastic deck chair inside a 4-by-4-foot ground blind, looking over the same 40 acres of Saskatchewan woods before I finally killed a buck on Friday.
This hunt for a big Canadian buck was the toughest hunting challenge of my life, and I hardly moved a muscle. Mentally straining, psychologically crushing, I sat in the same seat—actually two, since I moved blinds after the first two days in the field—for 12 hours a day straining to see a bruiser buck step out of the poplar forest.
I climbed down from my stand this morning after a 3-hour sit, my tag still intact and still in my pocket.
I had a pretty good buck—a heavy 3x4 with a bladed brow tine—come screaming to my rattling at first light. He ran, then walked directly beneath my stand on the timbered edge of a picked cornfield. I drew my bow, but I just couldn’t let an arrow go.
I am not a patient hunter. I'm successful largely because I cover lots of ground and prepare to hike longer and farther and higher than the other guy. Make me mobile and '‚m going to get game.
So it's a special kind of torture for me to spend all day in a treestand, unable to get on the ground and make my own luck. We were told in our orientation here in Illinois that "walk-abouters" weren't tolerated here. And I understand it. We have so many folks on stand that if someone started meandering around the woods would screw everyone up.
I have heard whitetail bucks grunting only once before, and I thought it was pigs coming through the brush. Turned out to be a big Texas bruiser that blew past me so fast I couldn't swing my rifle.
Well, these Illinois bucks grunt like a whole pen full of hungry hogs. I heard three different grunts today during my 12 straight hours on stand. I grunted back to two of them, had them coming in, then they broke and disappeared in heavy brush. But the sound of that guttural, throaty roar will stay with me a long time.
I spent 12-1/2 hours on stand in some of the best big-buck country in America- Illinois' Brown County- and saw little bucks bird-dogging does, larger bucks intimidated by something I couldn't see up the ridge, and does starting to get good and squirrelly.