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Early Muzzleloader in VA


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Early Muzzleloader season in VA opened on 11-5, so on 11-4 my grandfather a good friend and I loaded up and headed north to a farm we lease near Charlottesville, VA. This is a trip we have made every year for as long as I can remember. Opening day comes, We are all in our stands roughly an hour before daylight, but its 65 degrees, before daylight! Needless to say we saw little movement. About 11 I walk back to camp and grab a drink from the cooler, before i can even open my water i look up in the field and see a MASSIVE coyote. I grabbed my rifle and shooting stick, steady myself, and squeeze the trigger. The dog dropped. After walking it off, that was a 195 yard moving shot. We hunt the next 2 days and saw little to no deer activity. Then Tuesday evening my buddy cracked a good 8 point, considering it was 64 degrees through the night, we cut it up, bagged and iced it before bed. Woke up the next morning, got in the stand before daylight, starting to see more movement, still no other shooters. That evening I decide to hunt the edge of a 5 year old Pine thicket. With about 45 minutes of shooting light left, I see a Doe come running out of the pines. She stops and starts feeding right under me but continued to keep looking back. about 3 minutes later i look back to the pines and see a nice buck, not sure how big at this point, but I knew he was a shooter. I stop him in an opening and squeeze the trigger. The deer dropped. I reloaded, and sat back down to enjoy the evening. Right at very last light, i Looked down where the doe had been standing to see what i thought was another nice 8pt. I put the crosshairs on him and squeeze, the deer dropped. I reload again, and climb out of my stand, go to the closest deer (the second shot) he' a nice 8pt. I left my bag there, and went to get the second deer to drag him up the hill. I get to where the deer fell to find no deer, only blood. I look and look to find where the deer went to, after an hour of racking my brain on what happened, i find some blood. I tracked that blood to where I shot the second deer. Come to find out, the first shot i made on the first deer was high, I broke his back, but didn't sever the spinal cord. The same buck, with a broken back managed to get back up, and get back on the trail of that doe. Luckily the temps were cool enough we could hang that deer packed in ice over night to process him in the daylight. I decided to hunt the same location the following morning, about an hour after daylight, here comes a doe out of the pines and she is MOVING, so i got ready. About 2 minutes behind her, here came a buck, and a big one at that. I tried to stop him 5 times, he never stopped to give me a shot. A minute or two behind him, here comes another nice buck. I was able to stop him and get a shot. The deer dropped, i reloaded. about the time i got the smoke pole reloaded, i look up and see ANOTHER nice buck standing in the clearing. I put the crosshairs on him, and he starts moving. I lowered my rifle and watched him follow the same path the other bucks and doe were on. I get my deer to camp, process my deer and hunt the evening, I saw a few small bucks, but nothing to write home about. That night and the following morning we got over 2 inches of rain! After the rain i decided to hunt a field next to the river. Like clock work, right at 4:30 i saw something off on the distance that looked like a CD spinning in a garden. I put my scope on it to find the biggest buck i've never laid eyes on coming down the fence line right towards me. Im going to guess that he is about 500 yards or more at this point. Buck fever sets in! i get my rifle on my shooting stick which is lodged against the shooting rail of my stand, i pulled the hammer back and watched him walk right towards me. He gets about 200-225 yards and turns broadside in the field and sticks his nose in the air. I squeezed the trigger, nothing happened! Panic set in, i pulled the hammer back again and get him back in my crosshairs, at this point the buck is inside the wood line but i still had a shot, roughly 230 yards. I squeeze the trigger, gun goes off. Once the smoke clears i looked through my scope where the deer was in hopes to find him laying. The deer was still there, nose to ground. I reload, put the scope up and he is gone! A few minutes pass, i climb down and go look. There are no torn up leaves or anything else that would lead you to believe that a deer bad been shot, or shot at. I start looking for any signs of a hit to no avail. I stand where the deer was and look back at the stand only to find a tree limb dangling where it had been shot, i turned around following the trajectory, and found the hole in the ground above the buck! So all in all, It was a great trip, i brought home 2 8 pt bucks, that will soon be jerky, chili and steaks. The lesson  learned: Buck Fever is real! 

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