The title may not seem catchy and may not garner as many clicks as something titled “MONSTER BUCK” but stick with me on this one. This is a story that epitomizes why we hunt and might make you change your mind on upcoming hunting trips.
One of my first articles was about the importance of doe management. I won’t rehash all the reasons why it is necessary, but we have been overwhelmed with does all season. I think the biggest reason we have seen the numbers we have is due to lack of a mast crop.
The acorns were almost nonexistent on our property this fall. Luckily, we planted plenty of acreage in food plots and have used supplemental feeding, which has drawn record numbers of deer to us. This one stand, on a good day in year’s past, you would see 6-8 deer. This year, we have seen over 30 deer on multiple occasions. Out of those, 24 or more would be antlerless deer and only a handful of those were fawns.
I knew we needed to do some serious doe management on this piece of ground, but I didn’t have enough tags or rifle cartridges to thin enough of them to ensure a healthy herd for next year. That’s when I sent out a message to our group hunting text, The Hunting Pod, to see who wanted to go on a doe hunt.
The hunting pod consists of 16 local hunting friends where we share hunting successes and failures, but we mostly make fun of each other. Out of the 16, I knew who would respond first and within seconds my prediction was correct. Montana Boyd promptly replied “I’m in.”
Montana is a local boy from Hico who has a reputation for knocking down his fair share of deer each season. He doesn’t discriminate too much on bucks or does and pulls the trigger on whatever makes him happy. He was the perfect candidate for this hunt.
I waited until the weather got right, monitored the trail cameras, and knew the evening of January 6th should be a slam dunk. Montana met me in downtown Downsville at 3:30 p.m. and we headed to the stand. The goal was simple: to bag two does and put Anders’ dog on a blood trail. He has been training his dog for over a month because he wants to join the Louisiana Blood Trailing Network.
In the stand, conversation wasn’t lacking. We shared stories of success, but mostly of heartbreak over this year’s season. Montana was in a slump. His year had been dominated by bad luck in the hunting woods. I knew his slump would end in just a few minutes, as long as his aim was true.
Like clockwork, at 5:15 p.m. they arrive. I get my phone out to film and he picks out the largest doe in the herd. He steadies the 30-06 and BOOM. The doe drops in her tracks. I said, “Well, we aren’t tracking that one.” We laugh and celebrate like little kids in the stand, but there is still 30 minutes of daylight left. So, we jump out, drag the deer to the stand and get back in.
As daylight faded, so did our hopes of harvesting two deer. Montana even apologized and said, “I would’ve let you shoot that one if I knew that was the only opportunity we would have.” I explained that he was the guest, and I was happy he got one. With seconds of legal shooting light left, I see movement coming out of the pine thicket. I shoulder my rifle, but I couldn’t see them very well through my cheap scope. Montana hands me his rifle, and I can see them clearly. I go to click the safety off but can’t find it. It’s at this point I realize it’s a left-handed gun, so Montana clicks it off for me. I asked Montana to double check which doe is the biggest and he says, “the one on the right.” I settle the crosshairs and the doe drops just as quick as I pulled the trigger. “Well, we aren’t tracking this one either,” I said.
Once again, we celebrate like little schoolboys, but we had only accomplished half of our goal. Anders’ dog, Reese, was not going to be able to blood trail a deer. We decided to create a mock trail by dragging both deer 150 yards through the field and lay them side by side. After retrieving Reese from her kennel, we put her at the shot site(s). She quickly picks up on the scent and finds the deer in under a minute. Mission accomplished!
While the story of killing two does may not seem very exciting for some, it was everything about the hunt that really cemented why we do what we do. We all tend to get busy and speaking for myself, can tend to get selfish at times. We get keyed in on hunting certain deer and can sometimes lose focus of the big picture. While I absolutely love hunting with my children, I admittedly take the “job” too serious and can miss out on the fun of the hunt sometimes.
I will make it a point now to try and mix in some hunts with my buddies moving forward. It’s a nice change up to what I normally do, and I can promise there is nobody that has had more fun on a hunt than Montana and myself did that evening. Luckily the stand was sealed, and the windows closed, otherwise every deer within half a mile would have heard us laughing and cutting up. We were so excited we made sure to head to Dubach Deer Factory to get a picture to commemorate the hunt.
Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (9), Ridge (7) and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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