We are lucky enough to hunt all over the country in some of the most beautiful places in the world. But when it comes down to it, whitetail hunting in our home province will always hold a special spot in our hearts. It’s where we first got into hunting as kids, where our passion grew over the years, where we’ve spent most of our time in the woods, and where we now introduce our children to the outdoors.
Outside of the major city centers and busy highways in Southern Ontario, you’ll find acres and acres of farmland and timber and thriving in these areas are large numbers of whitetail deer. Hunters play a major role in helping to sustain and control the deer population, especially in a densely populated area like Southern Ontario. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to get permission from many generous landowners to hunt their farms and woodlots. Respecting the landowners and their properties and maintaining good relationships are extremely important, not only for you as an individual, but for all hunters.
Every year we look forward to the fall hunting season, but our preparation for whitetail hunting is a year round endeavor. We monitor our hunting areas with game cameras and track our target bucks throughout the year and once fall hits, it’s all hands on deck. We go to great lengths to scout the best locations for our ground blinds and tree stands, and we diligently monitor our cameras, waiting for the season to begin. As the fall hit and deer season began, we hit the woods with the bow, ready to finally reap the rewards of a year of hard work and preparation.
For our first afternoon sit, we picked a ground blind on the corner of a cornfield and hay field, with a known bedding area in some nearby timber. The action in this area had been very consistent the last few weeks and the rut was just getting under way, so Kevin’s hopes were high. Almost immediately there was action in the field, as does and fawns moved between the woods and the cornfield. A little while later, we spotted a nice buck on the far side of the field, hot on the tail of a doe. Clearly the rut had begun.
With nothing to do but patiently wait, we watched the buck for what seemed like an hour, but was probably more like fifteen minutes. Then all of a sudden, the buck started chasing the doe at full speed, and to our delight, the doe was leading him right towards us. Kevin clipped his release on as the buck and doe closed the distance between us, still running at a full sprint. At 80 yards, the doe took a sharp turn and headed towards the woods with the buck following her into the timber and out of sight. With only a few minutes left of legal light, we caught our breath and packed up for the night. What a way to start the hunting season!
The next couple days garnered just as much activity. From a tree stand deep in a hardwood forest we watched countless does and fawns, and a couple young bucks, roaming the area, only to be spooked off by a pair of coyotes late in the morning. From a blind setup near some standing corn, we watched the deer filter through the area, before making a gut wrenching decision to pass a beautiful young buck at 40 yards. He was a very tough deer to age, even with plenty of time and at close range, but due to his neck and body size we determined he was a three year old and decided to let him walk for another year.
On day four, we headed back to our blind setup from the first day, hoping our mature buck would make another appearance. Again the deer action was amazing; there was rarely a minute without at least one deer in our sight. The climax of the night came as we spotted some movement on the far end of the field. A buck emerged from the woods, over five hundred yards away but moving steadily. As we got the binoculars on him, we counted ten points on his rack. It wasn’t the deer from the other night, it was an even bigger one. But our excitement soon turned to disappointment as the buck again was lured away into the woods by a doe. A younger, immature buck gave us a good show later and kept us entertained for the rest of the night, but we were still frustrated from missing an opportunity at such a magnificent buck.
As the season wore on, we had several sits with no deer action, as all hunters do. We also had to make some more tough decisions on passing younger bucks – a decision that gets harder and harder as the season drags on, but an important one to maintain the quality deer management principles that we diligently adhere to. Our efforts and patience were rewarded on a cold afternoon in November as a deer we’d had on our cameras for years appeared before our eyes.
This mature, towering buck stepped out from the bush, following a doe and a fawn. At 25 yards, he stood scanning the area, his vitals covered by brush. The doe, now standing 20 yards in front of the buck, did not like our blind and stood staring right at us. As we sat frozen in our blind, the buck finally started to clear the brush. As Kevin carefully prepared to draw without spooking the doe, the buck trotted towards her, and in a flash, chased her off into the woods, leaving us breathless, shocked, and distraught. It was starting to feel like we couldn’t catch a break.
Late into the season, we finally did catch that break. The game camera pictures revealed a new buck had entered one of our hunting areas. With the end of the season in sight, we bundled up and headed to our blind. After an anxious couple of hours, our mystery buck appeared. And finally, for the first time that season, a mature buck did exactly what we needed him to. He slowly crossed the meadow in front of us, stopping broadside at 20 yards, giving us the perfect shot and Kevin made it count.
The rest of the crew arrived in record time to help out, along with an excited father thrilled to celebrate the success with his boys. As we trudged through the snowy woods that night tracking that buck, we reminisced on all the years we’d spent in these woods; all the memories, all the successes, and all the failures. As we finally came to the fallen buck lying in the snow, we got to share in the success that we had all earned over the course of the year. It had been a long, tough season, but there’s no place we’d rather be than in the woods and fields of Southern Ontario, chasing whitetails.