Big Buck Down - Our 2022 Ohio Rutcation
I set up for an afternoon hunt on day 1 in Ohio about 2/3 the way to the top of the ridge on a small parcel of land. I used six stepps, a battlement platform, and the berserker, put my face to the wind and hunkered in. As soon as the squirrels accepted my arrival and the woods returned to life, I began a short, blind call sequence of doe bleats and grunts.
Not 3 minutes later, a nice buck emerged from the treeline and tended to a scrape at the edge of the field. I grunted again, more aggressively this time. I had his attention. He turned and headed my way - 100 yards, 80, 60... But, he was angling toward a weak side shot. Slowly, I began to rotate around the tree in what felt like a series of impossibly small movements. Suddenly, the old buck disappeared from the hardwoods and back into thick cover. Defeated, I readjusted my position, racked my bow, and spent the next hour replaying the encounter. I made a mental note to add a stepp on the right side of the battlement to improve the stability of another potential weakside shot.
As the golden hour approached, I saw a doe feeding 70 yards out at the field edge and reached for my grunt call, hoping to create one more opportunity before dusk. Not halfway through another grunt sequence, a giant body cruised along the field edge, adding his own series of short, throaty grunts. I froze and watched him tear up a line of saplings. I grunted again to no avail; he was no longer concerned with my threat and chased his doe as the last light faded.
I took my platform with me but left my stepps in the tree, unsure if I would hunt the same stand the following morning or wait until the afternoon to return. Back at camp, I recounted every detail to my boyfriend, Taylor, who had his own exciting encounter with a nice 8 not 500 yards from my set. We called my brother, Drew (@wildedgeinc). His advice - get your ass back in that stand in the AM and don't forget to snort wheeze; this was obviously a dominant buck. Taylor and I spent the next hour laughing at my sad attempt to practice a snort wheeze, until we finally deemed it *good enough.*
The following day, we were up early, wanting to return to our stands well before the first light. I headed back equipped with a set of 5 steps. I knew if that buck were going to come down off the field, I would need to be a few feet higher. So, I added two steps to my original set and used the remaining three to build a ring of stepps as my platform, which would give me the most stability to counter this tree's slight, downhill lean.
Anticipation was high as the sun began to rise, and three grey shadows fed along the field edge. They needed to stay put just a little longer. Finally, I had enough light to clearly see the big body from last night's hunt pushing two does back and forth. I grunted more aggressively than before. He turned and faced me before running to rip up that same line of trees. This time I knew what to do and let out my best snort wheeze.
The big-bodied buck wasted no time, descending the ridge directly to me - 60 yards, 50... I grabbed my bow and was ready to draw. He was closing the distance - 40, 35... more slowly now, more tentatively. I grunted quietly once more, pointing the tube in the opposite direction. He continued - 30, 20, 10... We were now face to face. Realizing his error, he stomped once and turned broadside to leave. I drew immediately, bleated to stop him, and sent the broadhead through his heart. I held my breath - 40, 50, 60 yards, and the adrenaline flew from my body, leaving me shaking uncontrollably. I did it. At 7:46 AM on Day 2 of our Ohio hunt, I texted Taylor and Drew, "BIG BUCK DOWN!!"