For 15-year-old Minocqua hunter Sam Jaeger, it wasn’t necessarily the excitement of the hunt that lured him to his stand Nov. 18, day two of the Wisconsin gun deer season.
Sam had taken a doe from the stand on the opening Saturday. Sunday, he was tired.
“He told me he was headed back to the stand where he got the doe,” Dave Jaeger, Sam’s dad, recalled.
“He was going up there, thinking no deer would come around, so he could just go up there and take a nap.”
Sam said he was going to try another stand, but circumstance led him back to the tree stand where he shot the doe.
“I got the doe the day before, so I decided to sit in another stand, instead of that one,” Sam said.
He had a safety issue with the stand he was initially going to hunt that morning.
“I didn’t have a harness with me and I didn’t want to fall asleep in that stand, so I went back to the stand I was at – where I shot the doe,” Sam said.
The spot where Sam had tagged the doe the previous morning is a tree stand his uncle had built on the Conover property that Sam, Dave and some other family members hunt.
Much of the area is thick, but the tree stand looks over some relatively open woods. Sam wasn’t optimistic about his chances for getting another deer there.
He thought signs of the previous day’s activities – in particular the gut pile from his doe – would make it unlikely that he’d see deer there Sunday.
“I decided I was going to take a nap, because I was tired. I figured nothing was going to show up,” Sam said.
It turned out that Sam was wrong.
“As I was falling asleep, I started to hear a rustle ... out walked an eight-pointer, right in front of my stand,” he said.
Sam had made a move to grab his 7mm Mag. It was a nerve-wracking moment, but Sam would overcome the nervousness and make his shot count.
“I went to reach for my gun and I was shaking on the way there,” he said. “When I sighted in I was shaky then, too. Then I shot and I saw the deer drop.”
Sam’s nervousness was replaced by pleasant surprise.
“I was astonished that I hit it, because I was shaking so much,” Sam said.
He was also surprised that the deer, which wasn’t much over 10 yards away from him, didn’t react to the noises he made while readying to shoot.
“I made so much noise, I’m surprised it didn’t just start running away – when I went to grab my gun, it was just, like, as loud as could be,” Sam said.
He said the eight-pointer did take some notice of the stand while the situation played itself out.
“I breathed a little and it stared right at me and I was so shaky, I thought it was going to see me shaking,” Sam said. “Luckily, it didn’t.”
The buck appeared to be down for good, but Sam delivered a finishing shot to be safe. The deer interrupted Sam’s plan for a nap at about 7:45 a.m.
“It amazed me that the deer would come out by a bunch of guts that were already there,” Sam said.
The eight-pointer has a 12-3⁄8-inch inside spread. Sam entered his deer in the Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge.
Sam said he’s been hunting for three years, and that the eight-pointer is his first buck. Last year, he bagged a doe.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com