When God created the sport of Hunting, he also created the best feeling on earth, the racing steady flow of what we call, Adrenaline. Its a feeling that never gets old, especially when you are at full draw on a Florida giant.
It’s the night prior to Christmas Eve and I find myself tossing and turning with excitement for the following morning’s hunt, much like a child waiting on the arrival from Santa. On every hunt, I anticipate on being successful with the harvest of a mature animal, that’s the optimism of a hunter. The morning of Christmas Eve was no different than any other. I woke up, had my egg whites with a cup of coffee, stretched, and off to the Florida swamps I go.
It’s extremely foggy with, of course, 100% humidity, 63 degrees, a north/northeast wind, and the high for the day estimated at 83 degrees. It was going to be yet another warm Christmas. As I was walking to my ladder stand in my Under Armour Realtree Heat Gear with my bow, and the ThermaCell smoking, it sounded like it was raining as the dew was dropping from the tree limbs above into the water of the Cypress swamp. Before getting into the stand, I sprayed some of the brush with Muzzy’s Bowhunters Setup, an all-season scent attractant.
My ideal stand location is to position myself inside the swamp, but with all the rain, the water level was well over my thigh, forcing me to hunt along the edge. Just about all the Cypress swamps where we hunt are naturally layed out as follows; the outer layer is full of Florida Palmettos, then a layer of Oak trees and hardwoods, with the core full of thick-trunked Cypress trees and a soggy bottom. The deer feel safe along these swamps with thick cover, plenty of acorns and Cypress berries for food, and water making up all the essentials of a habitat.
My arrow was knocked with my Muzzy MX-3 broadhead as I waited on God’s sunrise. Just at daylight broke, I could hear movement behind me making it’s way directly towards me. I waited still as can be and just below my stand, pops out a young doe feeding on the acorns of the Water Oak adjacent to me. She makes her way directly in front of my stand towards the Muzzy’s Bowhunters Setup and continues to sniff and lick the leaves.
It’s 8:00 a.m. and the yearling doe has been beneath me now for approximately an hour. Our rut has yet to set in, but with this young doe as a decoy in front of me, I was hoping for a mature buck to step out anytime. At just about 8:30 a.m., movement catches my eye. I quickly grabbed my Hawke Binoculars and could see there were three mature does appraoching the Oak trees to feed. Nestled in a Pine tree with Oak tree limbs as cover, wearing Realtree AP, and doused with Lethal Scent Elimination, I was undetected by the does feeding within thirty yards of me.
As the sun ascended, the overlaying fog was almost completely burned up, making it much easier to see. Every one of the does made their way to the brush I sprayed to smell and lick. I sat there patiently watching the mannerisms of the deer and all of a sudden I hear a Palmetto bush crack. I focused my attention to the does as they immediately look toward the direction of the noise. Just beyond the edge of the swamp, steps out a mature buck. With the does paying close attention to him, I stood up, grabbed my bow and attched my release.
He comes in grunting and lip curling as he runs at one of the does. They both run out of sight and back into the swamp behind me. I placed my bow back on the bow hanger and immediately started to rethink the situation. Should I have drawn my bow, and grunted to stop him for a shot? Just minutes later, I look back off to my right and there he stands with the sun gleaming off his thick antlered rack. There are three does still in front of me locking their eyes directely on him. I reached for my bow as I began to slowly stand back up and my worst nightmare happens. One of the does catches my movement. I am now stuck in a squat position with my arm in mid air reaching for my bow.
This is no sweat for me. I perform several squats throughout the week while training for the hunt. I practice stopping throughout the movement with 225 lbs. on my shoulders because I know situations just like this are the reality of hunting, just as it has happened in the past. Once she focuses her attention back on him, I stand up and attached my release for the second time. As he eases to the group of does, I began drawing my bow very slowly to aviod as much movement as possible. Just as he started to run at one of them, I grunted with my mouth and he stops broadside. I have hunted this particular spot several times prior, therefore, I already knew the distances and what pin I should use. I placed my thirty yard pin just behind his shoulder, squeezed my release, sending the Muzzy MX 3 into flight. Thwack, the sweetest sound to a bowhunter and off he runs and crashes in the Palmettos not far from where I was sitting.
I stood there silently and still with excitement because the three does were still in front of me keening in on every little sound trying to figure out what just occured. All I wanted to do was hoot, hollar, and throw my arms up in the air in victory. I eased back in my seat and watched as the three does fed for another hour. I knew if they caught any movement or noise they were not familiar with, my cover would be blown. I did not want to educate these mature does more than they already were so I sat there in joy thanking God for continually giving me the strength and endrance to Train Hard so I can HUNT STRONG.
Once they left, I climbed down out of the ladder stand and went to the arrow stuck in the ground. I immediately had a heavy blood trail I followed very patiently to wear I found him less than sixty yards from the shot. Every year, our family tradition is to smoke both a wild turkey and a venison ham for Christmas dinner. Needless to say, it does not get any fresher than that.
My goal on every hunt is to always harvest a mature animal, regarless of the state, country, or providence I am hunting. The more mature the animal, the more challenging the hunt. This buck weighed just over 160 lbs and I estimated him around 4 to 5 years old. He is the second Buck I have harvested this year in the state of Florida. It’s not always about the harvest itself, but the preparation and the journey that made the hunt successful.
Davie “Crockett” Ferraro
Make The Choice, Be Lethal.
Havalon Baracuta-Blaze Orange Knife, Never Sharpen another blade again.
My Gear List:
Bow: Mathews Outback
Scent Elimination: Lethal
Safety Harness: Hunter Safety System
Broadheads: Muzzy MX-3, 100 grain
Attractant: Muzzy’s Bowhunter Setup
Camouflage: Realtree, Under Armour
Arrow Accessories: Bohning
Bow Sight: Spot Hogg
Knife: Havalon Knives
Backpack: Game Plan Gear, Spot & Stalk