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Redemption

By Greg Burns
Here in Texas, deer season ends in the middle of January- no more bow hunting, no more rifle hunting, no more muzzle loader hunting. That’s when you can say it all begins for us. Most hunters start getting their game cameras ready, getting their stands moved, and getting their spring food plots ready to plant. I personally take a “hunter’s vacation” for the month of February and get back to work in March.
My sons and I always start by pulling the memory card footage from our game cameras. We put the photos in a folder in order to take inventory of who managed to survive the season and make our yearly slide show for family and friends. We then put the game cameras out on the trails we didn’t hunt the previous year so we can start making notes for the upcoming season.  The next thing on our To-Do list is getting to the local feed store. We purchase a food plot seed that has a special blend of fertilizer that helps accelerate plant growth. With all of our work done, the waiting game then begins.

Fast forward several months and bow season is about to start and my sons and I more than ready for opening day. 2014 would be the first official year of Team C.B.W (Cedar Branch Whitetails). Bow season, which begins in October, came and went without seeing anything- not even a grunt or bleat. The boys did see a couple deer over youth weekend at the end of October, but they were either out of range or too small. Rifle season began in November with everyone and their momma out in the woods and letting the bullets fly!

I
had all my gear laid out the night before, ready to jump in them in the early morning hours, and hit my tree of choice. 5:00 a.m. came quickly, as it always does! Following my normal routine I showered with Scent-Away Scent Remover, got dressed, loaded up, and drove to my parking spot. Once there I sprayed everything down with Scent-Away and started my walk to my stand. This year I was after a huge male Team C.B.W. referred to as Zeus.  I arrived at my stand around 6:00 a.m., climbed in- placed my gear on a hook and my rifle in its place- and waited. The shooting around me began as the sun came up. I sat there quietly hoping all of the commotion would scare the deer in my direction. Unfortunately, nothing passed by me at all! I was disappointed, but it was opening morning and the deer in Cedar Branch are very smart. Around mid-day my stomach was growling so loud it would starting to scare me so I decided to head in and relaxed for a bit.

I headed back to my stand around 3:00 p.m. and sat (unsuccessfully) until almost dusk. As I started my walk back my aunt and uncle picked me up in her Mule. As we drove through the field towards my truck my aunt whispered, “There he is! There he is!” Turning my attention to where she is pointing I see him. Zeus is there in the open field about 150 yards away standing majestically, broad with the biggest rack I had ever seen. He just stood there, as if to say “Take your best shot,” and I decided to take his challenge. I pulled my rifle up and laid it across the top of the Mule. I zoomed in with my scope and took aim. I placed the cross hairs on his front shoulder, pulled the trigger, and…MISSED! Zeus bolted so fast I wasn’t sure he’d ever been there to begin with. Sunday came and I was back out in the stand. To my dismay I saw nothing again. I decided to check the spot where Zeus had been standing the day before- or where I thought he’d been standing- to see if maybe I had grazed him with my shot. As I walked around searching for any traces my uncle pulled up to check my progress. As I started walking towards him my hunter’s intuition told me to turn around. Surprisingly 50 yards away stood a beautiful doe. I stop, take aim, and fire…ANOTHER MISS! At this point I am completely disgusted with myself. My uncle has now witnessed me miss not 1, but 2 deer in less than 24 hours. What was wrong with me? Was it the gun? Am I getting older and shaky? I kept saying, “I do not miss! I do not miss!” For the next week I wasn’t able sleep for dreaming about Zeus. I was completely beside myself. I knew my chance to get him was gone for the season. He would not come through that field for a very long time.

The work week went by pretty fast and the weekend was back again. I was determined to get something that weekend, no matter what it was. I headed to Cedar Branch as soon as I could get off work. I woke up Saturday morning about 5:00 a.m. and followed my normal routine. I decided I was going to sit under the tree today and see if I had better success. I pulled out my black rack, grunt, and bleat cans. It was about 6:30 a.m. and very quiet. There was a slight fog in the field in front of me and created the prefect setting. I grunted and hit the black rack a few times. Almost immediately there was a big rustle in the tree behind me, but I wasn’t able to see the cause. I heard a slight grunt and realized it was a buck, but there was no way I turn around to get a shot. Yet another opportunity blown. Around 7:15 a.m. I heard something in the woods to the right of me and a gorgeous doe came trotting out. I took aim through the bush, fired, and missed. To my surprise she jumped, turned, came straight towards me, and suddenly stopped broad side. I shot again knocking her down this time!  I looked at my watch and it said 7:25 a.m.  I looked down and hit the bleat and looked back up. From the left side of the trail an 8pt buck comes into view. I draw on him, fire, and dropped him! I looked at my watch and it is now 7:28 a.m. Amazingly, I had just shot 2 deer in 3 minutes 10 yards apart! Redemption!



I had to calm myself as I walked to my truck. I stopped by my uncle’s house first and then to my parent’s house to let my dad know. It took five of us to get both of the deer back to my truck and loaded. Once we were back at my parents’ house we took picture after picture. My hunting season had turned out to be one I will always remember. I can see it now, Grandkids gathered ‘round for the story of how Grandpa shot 2 deer in 3 minutes.