2021 #6 – Daniel Vines

by | Jan 17, 2023 | 2021 Tethrd Ten


SADDLE GEAR: Phantom saddle, Predator platform, muddy pro sticks

So, my brother-in-law Zack Davis makes the trip up to Ohio annually to hunt, and he graciously invited me to come along this year. I had never gone hunting anywhere other than western North Carolina before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was really just hoping to cross paths with a decent buck. 

The morning I harvested my buck the temperature was in the upper twenties with a thick layer of frost covering the ground. There was little to no wind, and the morning was silent. We had set out for the location that we had hunted the previous morning, but someone else had made it there first. Discouraged, we decided to search for another location. We came across a ridge that Zack had decided he wanted to hunt. so I pulled up my ONX, and began checking the surrounding area to find myself a spot as well. I had located a nice CRP field surrounded by hardwood trees, so I figured I would give that area a shot. As I walked a decent ways in, I came across a poplar tree in the center of a pinch point in the field, with very little cover. The field was full of tall thick brush, so it was my hope that if a deer came by, they wouldn’t feel the need to look up beyond the brush. So I climbed up to settle in for the morning. 

Around nine in the morning, the sun was above the tree line and starting to melt the frost. I was roughly eighteen feet up with the sun at my back. Feeling warm and content, I nestled into my jacket to take in the sun. It was then that I heard movement from a good distance behind me.

Trying to avoid being seen, I slowly turned to see three bucks chasing one another through the field. My heart stopped. I wasn’t sure I would even have the opportunity to see a buck here, let alone three. The first one was a six point young buck. Looked by all accounts to be a decent deer, but not what you drive seven hours to take home. The second was a good sized buck with what looked to be eight points. He wouldn’t settle down enough to get a good look at him. I would’ve been perfectly happy with that deer any day of the week. But the third was the biggest of the three. He was a large bodied wide spread eight pointer. It looked as if he was herding the other two bucks out of the field. They were all out of the range of my bow, so I just watched them. They ran through the field back and fourth for about five minutes. grunting at one another. It seemed like a lifetime as I waited hoping they would venture my way to only see them cross the field and go back into the woods. It was disheartening to see them walk away, but I was hopeful that they would return.

Within two minutes I heard running through the forest beside me. I was standing perfectly still, barely breathing as I waited to see what was coming my way. Suddenly they broke through the tree line. All three bucks were directly in front of me. All within fifty yards. I slowly reached for my bow, and passed it under my tether to my right side. While pivoting on my platform, I slowly connected my release and lifted my bow. I held my position for a brief moment as they continued to run through the field. It was then that the medium sized eight point ran in front of me. As he was passing at about 25 yards I pulled my bow back and grunted in his direction in an attempt to make him stop to investigate. But it didn’t work. He never slowed down. Still holding my position with the bow pulled back I watched them move towards me. Then it happened. The largest eight point walked straight towards me. 

Holding my breath for fear of being noticed, I watched him inch towards me. He was turning to walk the other direction at about 20 yards when I grunted at him. Still holding my bow at the ready, I placed my pin just behind his shoulder with a perfect broadside view as he looked in my direction. Then I released. I knew I had placed the pin on him perfectly, but it all happened so quickly, I couldn’t tell where the arrow had hit before he bolted. I watched him run for about sixty yards and then he fell over. I couldn’t process what had just happened.

I was physically shaking. Having only hunted for a couple of years, I am still very new to hunting and I had never seen a deer like this. I pulled my phone from my pocket to message Zack, and all I could manage to type was, “I think I got a monster”. Within seconds he called me and I told him I saw it fall, but I wanted to wait just in case so I wouldn’t scare it into running again. We were less than a mile away from one another so he told me he would be there soon. We get off the phone and I just waited in my saddle watching in that direction for movement. After what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was probably fifteen minutes, I decided to go and look for him. 

I knew where I saw him run, but the brush was so thick that I couldn’t actually see him from the tree. So I climbed down and packed my gear leaving it beside the tree. My adrenaline was through the roof, and I was still shaking, but I needed to see it. So I started walking in that direction pushing my way through the briars and brush. When I finally made it to him I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was the biggest deer I had ever seen.

It was a good shot through the lungs and the broadhead grazed the heart as well. I just stood there in awe. Zack walked up to the deer, looked at me, and said “That’s a dang good deer”. Then it was time for the hard work. Dragging him back to the road………. 

This hunt held so many firsts for me. My first saddle kill, my first bow kill, my first public land kill, and also my first buck. I never imagined killing a deer like that on the trip, but I am so grateful for the opportunity, guidance, and the story!