Sitting 15 feet above the ground staring at my grunt tube at the base of my stand, all I could do was shake my head and laugh. This wasn’t the first dumb thing I had done while hunting and it certainly would not be my last. One would think that after 20 years hunting whitetails that I would have this down to a science. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
They say you learn far more from failure than you do from success. Such is easily the case in the whitetail woods. Whitetail hunters go through a myriad of trials and tribulations in honing our craft. How else would we learn that you don’t want to drop your grunt tube? All joking aside, we are going to make mistakes, but what we learn from them are the keys to success in the future.
Most of us have had a stand make noise at the absolute wrong time. I recall the time I rattled in what at the time would be the biggest buck of my life. He was on a string headed to my stand. The morning was cold and frosty. You could see his breath plume into the air as he stormed into the small woodlot looking for a fight. No bones about it, he was the king and this was his turf. I stood up and readied for a shot. The buck closed the distance quickly moving left to right and soon would be in bow range. I shifted my weight to turn slightly in my old lock-on stand to the tune of a very loud squeak. The old warrior froze solid at 55 yards staring in my direction. As fast as he came in, he turned and exited the woodlot.
Who hasn’t moved too quickly and spooked a deer? I was sitting behind a downed stump in a valley where my buddy sent me. He had been seeing many bucks travel the trail 3/4 the way up the hill and felt confident of the location. Thirty minutes after sitting down, the sound of a deer approaching caught my attention. A nice buck was moving left to right along that magical trail. Just as my friend had predicted, the deer was headed straight for me. When the buck cleared the grapevines I quickly raised my shotgun to ready for the kill. Big mistake! The whitetail caught my movement and bounded away without offering a clear shot.
I had my battery on my red dot fail on a mature whitetail in 2010. I got into the stand at 3:30 AM and waited until daylight. I knew the deer would be pushed this way eventually so I wanted to get in early and get set up well before first light. I waited until 11 AM and he came straight through the pasture to me. He stopped 10 yards away and when I shouldered the weapon, the battery had died. Another opportunity missed. Needless to say, I put a fresh battery in the red dot each year now.
I can write more about my blunders than I can my successes when it comes to hunting the whitetail deer. This is more than likely true for everyone that hunts. We get the “best” footage from the hunting shows, but rarely see their shortcomings during hunts. I can tell you this, it happens to the TV personalities just like it does to us. They are hunters, the same as the rest of us.
In short, things happen! From dropped grunt tubes and rattling antlers to other equipment failures, we learn each time out. Things happen and hopefully, we learn something that makes us better each time because what doesn’t kill them makes us stronger!