One area Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge participant got to enjoy a number of deer sightings and more when he took to the woods one weekend earlier this fall.
He would also tag a buck.
Colin Johnson, 14, of Hazlehurst, ended up taking an eight-pointer the second day of the youth gun hunt in October. He was hunting with his dad, Gene Johnson, in mixed woods near a swamp.
“The first day was sort of slow,” Colin said.
He did see a buck, but not necessarily the one for which he was hoping.
“One of three bucks that we have on trail camera – it’s like a little four-pointer – he was in our little bait pile/food plot for a while,” Colin said.
“I guess I decided to pass up on him because we had pictures of him and the eight-pointer and another nine-pointer all together. I figured if I’d wait another day I might get a chance at one of the two bigger ones.”
The second day of the two-day hunt would prove more fruitful. Colin and Gene were back at the platform stand they had built and ready to hunt before daybreak.
“We were out there for a while – we saw a doe or two and then the small one came in again,” Colin said. “[I was] just about getting ready to shoot that one – figured I didn’t want to let him get away again if he was by himself.”
But the four-pointer wasn’t the only buck around that morning. The eight-pointer that the trail-cam had recorded would soon make an appearance.
“He ... slowly made his way towards ... the bait pile,” Colin recalled. “They all kept looking back towards where they came from, so I waited a while to see if the nine-pointer was going to come in, too.”
The nine-pointer didn’t show, but Colin got to witness an interesting scene that morning.
“I looked the other way and there were turkeys, three turkeys, that came in to the bait pile to eat some corn, and then the two bucks just chased them away – stomped their hooves and ... showed their antlers to them – and sort of chased the turkeys off,” he said.
The turkeys were persistent though.
“Funny thing is the turkeys kept trying to come back and they kept chasing them away. So that was probably one of the coolest parts of that day.”
Colin continued to watch the scene unfold, still thinking he might see the nine-pointer. But it soon became time to make a decision on the eight-pointer.
“They started walking away – they were probably there for a half-hour or so, just eating,” Colin said. “I figured that nine-pointer’s not going to come in, so I waited until [the eight-pointer] was out of the brush and shot him.”
Colin hit the buck in the lungs with his .270 Remington. The mortally wounded buck followed a similar path to a deer Colin had gotten with his bow last year. It made the tracking fairly easy, though the 8-pointer actually traveled farther than last year’s bow kill, Colin said.
The deer was taken at about 8:30 in the morning. Its eight-point rack has a 12-inch inside spread.
“About the same size as the nine-pointer from last year that I got,” Colin said. The eight-pointer is Colin’s third deer overall.
Colin said that as he gets more deer, the field-dressing chore is entrusted to him more and more. He did most of the dirty work on his eight-pointer.
“Last time I got a little bit more help. This time I had to do most of it.”
When it comes to eating the venison, Colin said he enjoys a meal of backstrap the most. He plans to have the antlers from his eight-pointer mounted.
Colin said he will probably hunt during the regular nine-day deer season.
“The last couple years we’ve had quite a few big ones come in during the rut, so I’d probably be interested in hunting then, too,” Colin said.
Colin said he gets out bow hunting when he can.
“Now it’s starting to get colder and the daylight shorter, so it’s harder to [because] of all my school and homework and stuff. By the time I get out there ... I’ve only got like an hour and a half of daylight,” he said.
“But I’m still trying.”
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com.