The Anticipation of Hunting

Every year that I hunt, I am optimistic about my opportunity to see and harvest a mature buck.  The excitement of killing a mature buck shakes me to my core, and that’s why I sit for hours and hours in a tree stand.  The anticipation of how the hunt will play out is something I try to plan for, but all the preparation from putting out mineral sites, planting food plots, to putting up tree stands and shooting my bow cannot prepare me for the actual moment of truth when that buck steps out.  The buck I harvested last year entered the food plot already in bow range, so I didn’t have a long time to get shook up before I released the arrow.  After I let the arrow fly and I knew it was a good shot I basically was in shock and spent several minutes convulsing out of sheer joy.  When you hunt the same buck year after year without luck, then your luck changes, it’s hard to describe other than simply amazing.

I feel the same type of anticipation every time I step into the woods looking for sheds.  I am never certain that I’m going to find anything, but some days you have a better feeling than others.  This last weekend I had a good feeling I was going to have a chance at finding a shed.  We haven’t had a lot of snow recently in Minnesota and I knew that about half the bucks have shed on the property.  I also know the bedding areas like the back of my hand because I’ve shed hunted this property for over 20 years.  Just like with actual hunting, my shed hunt was 99% a grueling hike in hilly terrain with a foot of snow cover, and 1% sheer jubilation for finding a shed from one of the bucks I recognized from trail cameras.  That 1 % is what keeps me coming back year after year and mile after mile in search of the “needle in a haystack” shed antler.

I am not sure if my condition of “whitetail on the brain” is a legitimate health concern, but I’m glad there is a cure for it in the form of finding sheds in the non-hunting season.  When I found that shed I made a mental note of the bedding area and the likely hood of intercepting that buck on his way to the nearest source of food.  He had some interesting character with an extra tine on the inside of his main beam so I’m fairly certain I will be able to recognize this buck next year.  I call him “Rocky” because he is a fighter.  He broke off two of his points and from the looks of his mass, it took a lot of force to break those points off.

With the finding of that antler, the chance of shooting this buck in the future is better.  I may never see him again, but if I do all the right things like keep hunting pressure to a minimum and use proper scent control, I am very optimistic about seeing this buck this fall.  Only time will tell if we cross paths, but the anticipation for next year’s hunting season has already began!

-Tim Neuman, Wildlife Biologist

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