This journey started for me back in September 2015. I was able to secure the permission to handle the property management for the deer herd on a 40 acre parcel. This property is a 40 acre parcel mountainous terrain with several streams. It was mainly populated with poplar trees and beech trees. It did have several oaks and hickory on it but not enough to feed the local deer and turkey population.
The first part was posting this land and letting all the neighbors know that the property has changed hands. The next step was to scout and set trail cams across the property to determine the game movement and gather a plan. I hung several stands as an observation stands to help gather more information on the deer movement. As the 2015 archery season had already begun I was really behind the ball on hunting this property. My main goal was to gather as much info and hopes of helping my kids fill their first tags and create a plan for the 2016 season. As we were unable to fill either on my kid’s tags I was able to harvest one doe and lots of information.
As soon as the 2015 season came to an end I went to work. In my head I already had a layout of where the food plots and sanctuary shall be placed. Using the layout of the land and the predominant wind directions I planned to keep the food to the south and eastern parts of the property and create the sanctuary towards the north / north western part. Keep in mind that the majority of this land is on a south facing slope of a mountain which works well for bedding in the winter. I entered the future sanctuary to start the hinge cutting of trees for more cover and spring time food for the deer. I had rented a dozer for a day to speed up the process of clearing the future food plots. We also out sourced and had a timber company come in and help remove about 100 poplar trees. This was a select cut for several plans. I had my food plot locations marked out and also areas where I planned to plant more fruit / oak trees in the future. After the food plot areas were cleared. I went to each location and tested the soil all the soil ranged from 6 -6.5 ph. I figured out the square footage of all my plots and got all the lime needed to bring that ph up. The lime was spread by late March early April.
In the meantime I was doing a supplemental feeding and scouting for antlers. At this time I was able to find a nice 4 point side . He was a buck I knew and had filmed the 2015 season. I found one side and a close friend of mine his son found the other side. Both sides scored in the high 40” range. He had a 16” spread so I knew he would be a good one for next year.
During the next three months my time was consumed with work, coaching baseball and being a dad of two very active kids. In my head I feel that the time is slipping by and I am falling behind on the property management. I was able to squeeze in the tilling and disc of the food plots. With a new tractor and food plot attachment I was able to make quick work with the seven small plots that I did. Each of these plots ranged anywhere from 1/8 acre to 1/2 acre . As baseball came to an end in mid July I was back at it spreading the seed and cultipacking it in the ground. We had a fairly wet summer which worked out well and the plots were looking lush. September was a very dry month which did no favors for the plots but the clover was still able to do fine.
Along with September came the start of me coaching fall ball. With the season starting and virtually no time to hunt I could only sit back and watch trail cams do the work for me. As I knew this would happen I had invested in fifteen cellular trail cams so I could not only keep an eye on this property but several others that I hunt. I must say the cellular cams have saved me the time I knew I would never have to keep up to date on deer movements and what bucks were what. For me usually by mid August I have at least 2-3 hit list buck on cam. This was a first for me to not have one single buck I would consider shooting. Although not having a picture of one did make it slightly easier to not be in a stand. I knew that I really wouldn’t get to hunt much until the week of October 24th so I planned to get out that early part of that week.
As the week of October 15th hit I got a video clip of a shooter buck I called big 9. I sent the group a video clip and explained that I think I would take this buck if given the chance to get him on film. The cell cams would continue to go off with not only his picture but several other nice bucks. I knew my time was coming but now the anticipation was starting to get to me. I had not stepped foot on the property to hunt as of yet.
Let’s fast forward to October 25th. My plan was to hunt the lower part of the property and take a doe as most of his pictures were on the top part of the property and I would hope to go in for him that evening. I chose to stay out of the top part as it’s too hard to enter for an am sit without risking kicking deer out. As I walk in to my stand I set out some doe in heat and also set up my go pro for a second angle shot of the arrow hitting a deer. I climbed into my double set that sits in the south east corner of the property. The wind was out of the northwest and my scent was blowing just the way I needed it to. I get all settled in and all my camera gear setup. Then I have my peace. Not a sound in the still of the darkness and my eyes start to fade waiting for daylight.
Just as the sun is starting to rise I hear footsteps coming my way down one of the trails that I made with the tractor. As it’s getting closer and closer I grab my bow and turn the camera on. Just then I see a white flash and another and another. It’s my trail camera going off. As I can see the flash I know it’s him big 9 is coming right to me. He stops and stands 20 yards broadside. I go to draw my bow only to see that there is no camera light. As I am looking at this buck realizing that he could be walking out of my range in a second my heart aches. He does he continues on the trail and off and out of sight. I instantly text Cole and tell him about my heartache and encounter. With hopes of a doe bringing him back. A couple minutes go by which feel like hours and I hear footsteps and rustling of leaves. Just then I turn the camera back on and start to record. Still too dark for camera light I can hear the grunting and growling of a buck. I am sure that it’s him and the chase began. He pushed a small doe right on the small plot that I was sitting over. As that little doe fed the one he was chasing went running up the road away from me. Within minutes that doe was coming back and she fed right to the same area the other doe was. I could still hear him grunting but could not see him. Just then he stepped down the trail and I could see him.
He stands at 48 yards broadside with minimal camera light. At that moment I plan to shoot him only to have him stare at that doe and come right on her trail. With three go pros running and the camera on him I could not believe this was happening. He was standing there at 22 yards. The small doe had skirted up the trail and looked back and up and she saw me. She jumped and ran and I knew it was either now or possibly never. I came to full draw and aimed for the heart. My arrow hit its mark and he jumped and ran off the plot and piled up within 30 yds. The adrenaline was at its peak as I just got my first buck on film solo and I got numerous angles of it.
Pumped was an understatement this buck ended up being the buck I let walk in 2015 and finding a shed to. He was also the first buck taken off the property that I put this work into. It also happen to be the first year I was asked to join team Flatline Whitetails and I was able to make it happen for season 3.Now with more season left I can focus on helping my kids fill their very first tag. With high hopes of being able to write a couple more success stories this season. This was my plan that came together.
Article by: Jared Baer