While I was seeking a bachelor’s degree in business at a private college in Arkansas, I was also employed there as a resident assistant in the men’s dorm. Although this job was very time consuming, I made certain not to allow my goal of getting a degree interfere with the pursuit of my passion. My passion, in short, is hunting anything with feathers or fur. During my last year of college, I had mid-day and afternoon classes most of the week, which gave me the opportunity to get in some of what I call, timber-time. I was blessed with the chance to enjoy plenty of deer and duck hunting in that year. It had been a good year so far with adequate deer activity and a good number of ducks. My friend Kyle and I had several successful days but there was one particular day that stood out above the rest. This magical moment took place on a clear, crisp day in mid- November 2006.
“I think they’re going to do it this time, Kyle!”
“I’ll call the shot! Get Ready!”
“TAKE ’EM, BOYS!!!”
Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep!
Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep! Beeeeeeep!
What in the . . . ! OH MAN! I hate it when a good dream ends like that. All right, it was 4:00 a.m., time to roll out of bed. I was
meeting Kyle at his house in 45 minutes and I couldn’t be late on a morning like this. The weather was going to be perfect. The forecast for the day was a high of 31 degrees with a north wind and a good chance of snow! I thought to myself--this has the potential to be “The Day.”
I showed up at Kyle’s house a few minutes early, as usual. One of my two classes was cancelled for the day. So, I went ahead and made the executive decision to cancel the other class myself. Hey, it’s not just every day that we actually have a chance for snow in Arkansas. So, I had to do it! We loaded the boat and chased Milly down to put on her dog vest. She hates that vest for some reason. Kyle and I had planned to meet with five other guys that morning at the usual meeting place. We stopped at the gas station to stock up on drinks and snacks. We were going to stay and hunt daylight ‘til dark to take full advantage of “The Day.”
Kyle and I have not been blessed with the funds to purchase our own private ground to hunt, so we do what we can with what we have. It just happens that we live close to what we consider some of the best public hunting in Arkansas. This particular day, we planned to duck hunt in the morning and deer hunt in the afternoon. This is something that we try to do as often as possible. The public land where we hunt is basically archery only, which is perfect for Kyle and me when you consider our passion for bow hunting.
We met up with our friends and headed out to our chosen duck hole for the morning. We finally settled in about thirty minutes before shooting hours. Everything at last was quiet and all our lights were off. I soon realized that we were totally surrounded by ducks! Mallards were flying all above us and even more mallards were in the woods around us. My heart began to pound in my chest! I wasn’t sure what was going to happen but I knew whatever it was, it was going to be good. All seven of us started calling and splashing the water to imitate numerous ducks on the water. It worked! Shooting hour came and we had group after group of mallards come flying into our decoys. We ended up having the best day of the year with seven limits of mallards! This scenario of events helped make up the first part of “The Day.”
We all went into town and celebrated our morning’s success by having a large breakfast. While eating my eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and pancakes, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going to take place that afternoon. We said our quick goodbyes to the guys and made our way back to the woods. Kyle and I switched from our duck to our deer-hunting equipment. We loaded our bows and tree stands in the boat and made our way down the river once again.
Kyle wasted no time getting us down the river. I don’t know if he was in such a rush because he was anxious to get up a tree or because he could no longer feel his face. We were both cold but we couldn’t keep our minds off what type of day this could be. We arrived at our destination on the river and quickly gathered our things. Milly goes with us deer hunting as well. When we are duck hunting, she retrieves our ducks, and when we go deer hunting, she guards our boat! She is the best dog ever!
The rut had been in full swing, so we started still-hunting our way through the woods to our selected areas. Kyle and I both had chosen two natural funnel areas that were about a quarter of a mile away from each other. When people ask me for advice on better deer hunting success, I tend to tell them all the same thing. Stop hunting over rubs and scrapes and start hunting funnel areas. These funnel areas can be openings between thickets, rivers, creeks, open fields, or a combination. I believe that this advice will give a hunter the opportunity to see more deer and possibly harvest the buck of a lifetime.
I was finally able to find my way 30 foot up a tree. It was about 1:00 p.m. and the snow fall was basically unnoticeable. The snow that fell earlier that morning left a thin layer that barely covered the leaves. I set up, looking over a very dense thicket. My funnel area was between the thicket and a slough full of water.
Around 2:00 p.m. I spotted deer moving my direction--three does and a small buck. They walked the funnel just as I expected. About 3:30 p.m. two does showed up. They fed on a few acorns and started milling around. I glanced up and there he stood about 60 yards away! A great buck! Everything was going perfectly. He was just about to step out in my 30-yard shooting lane, when suddenly I heard a dog bark! It was just some stray dogs that had evidently been scent-tracking the deer. Talk about a whirlwind of emotion! This buck was about to give me an easy thirty yard broadside shot in the wheel house. Deer started running everywhere! I watched this great buck start trotting away! I made a split-second decision to draw my bow while whistling to stop him. It worked! He stopped, quartering away at about 45 yards. I had a small gap in the limbs and my only shot was at his spinal cord. I thought, either I am going to hit him in the spine and have a great deer or miss him and have a sad story. I took a breath, settled my pin on his spine, and squeezed off! I watched my arrow hit him exactly where I was aiming, and the big buck fell!
Luck had a lot to do with what took place on this day. But, I also believe that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I had scouted and knew the deer patterns in that particular area. I was also very confident in my shooting ability because of persistent practice. This all pertains to the preparation of any successful hunter. It is not just every day that someone can harvest a limit of mallards and bag a big buck. Being able to do this all in one day deserves the notable title of “The Day.” I would like to thank God for the opportunity to be a successful hunter and the privilege to enjoy his creation.
By: Brandon Brown