Let's just start this story from the very beginning. Everyone remembers their first hunting adventure as I remember mine very well. I grew up being know as my mom’s “Little Buddy”. Wherever she went I wanted to be by her side. Getting my hands dirty, helping, or just doing whatever she was doing. My mom was a single mom who loved the outdoors. It was very important to her that I am a part of the adventures, making sure we had a good time.
Every year in the fall when the leaves started to turn and farmers were in the fields, there were many days of getting ready and much talk about the upcoming deer seasons. I usually found myself at my grandma's house waiting to get a look at my mom's 1st buck of the year.
At the age of five (after many days of insisting) for the first time I was included in the hunt. It was a cold, snowy day and my mom helped me into my snowsuit, stocking cap and mittens. All bundled up I was ready to go hunt a "big buck"! She grabbed me, the old 870, and a hand full of bullets as we jumped into the big 4X4 truck. On the way to meet the hunting party, she thoroughly went over the rules and let me know what was to be "my" job.
Once arriving at the big barn, I can remember all the guys standing around talking about the plan for the first drive. I stood next to my mom so excited and I was ready to leave so we could go shoot a deer! We got back in the truck and drove to our designated spot. Getting out of the truck mom replayed the rules one more time. As soon as I agreed, I proceeded behind her fighting through the sticker bushes and deep snow in my bulky snow suit. Finally entering the corn field, we stopped in the fence line full of brush and small trees.
In my blaze orange, I still felt hidden in the fence line waiting for the other members of our party to push the timber. I started getting really excited and I was going to get "my" own deer. So, I started packing snow balls carrying them in hands ready to throw at the deer when they came out into the open. Next thing I know my mom whispers “Cody look, deer!” I turned to see deer running from the forest. BANG!!! Mom shoots and a big buck drops as a few more does continue running through the field. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! Everything was going so fast, so loud and now mom was panting and yelling “Deer Down!” to the group as they came through the forest line. After all the excitement, everyone gathered around the deer and it was finally time for me to do "my" job! My mom told me that this was the most important job of all! I was given the tag to put on the antler. I stood proud next to my 1st tagged deer. I wasn’t too sure about the next process though, field dressing the deer? It was explained to me this is what we had to do before we loaded our buck into the truck and off to the big barn to hang it.
This memory is forever in my mind. A year never goes by when I don’t get a chance to tell this story. It was right then my passion for hunting Whitetails had began. Each year trying to improve my skills to keep going on the next Whitetail EXCURSION. I’ve had a healthy competition with my mom, sister and friends to see who tags the biggest deer every year. Now don’t get us wrong, our main objective every year is to put meat in the freezer but we just like the healthy competition.
BRINK EXCURSIONS has been blessed with good fortune when it comes to putting nice deer in front of our clients, family and our staff every year. Not every year do I choose to shoot a deer because I get caught up with the old thought of “The next one will be bigger”. This is good and bad. Good – Lets the deer get bigger for next year. Bad – I get to eat a "tag" sandwich. Each year praying this will be the year you will have an opportunity at that monster buck. This year was that year for me.
While in a tree stand things change, your perspective changes. It’s hard to explain unless you have done it yourself. When you are sitting indoors there is always "stuff" going on around you - the hum of the refrigerator, the rumble of your heater, music playing, TV in the background or just someone talking. Your senses are overloaded with noise coming from every direction causing your them to become dulled. When you are out on a hunt you are the predator. All your senses get turned on high, they are the tools that give you the edge to a successful hunt. The wind blows, you stop moving so you can hear better. When you hear a twig snap, your eyes bolt over that direction to see why. You become on high alert and aware of your surroundings ready to seize the opportunity.
This season was no different. I get in my stand and "Hunter Mode" comes into full effect. After getting settled, I watch and listen as the forest comes alive around me. The 1st sounds of rustling I looked down and watched an opossum waddle his way under my stand. As time passes, a pack of does come stealthily into the forest to my left. I’m doing my best to keep still but also keep my head on a swivel. It’s rut, if there are does, there's a good chance is a buck is near! It isn’t long until I see a small fork buck coming from the field to the timber on my right. He’s young, just messing around making his way to the timber. Taking little stops along the way for a little nibble and sniff around. He walks into the tree line and starts acting funny.
I thought for sure he was going to put his nose down and come in after the does. But instead he started acting nervous and uneasy. Immediately I thought to myself what did I do wrong? Had he smelled my trial that I left coming into the forest? Suddenly he raised his tail and headed straight to where I had just came from. I was a bit bummed that my entertainment had left, he was fun to watch.
Back to checking on the does. I slowly pan back over to my left. They were still milling around in the timber completely un-phased by the events of the fork buck. Instantly, movement caught the corner of my peripheral sight to the right. Something was moving through the brush coming in where the fork buck had just been standing. It was another buck! Wait, it looked like something was stuck in its antlers! Squinting for a clearer and look through the brush, could it be just leftover velvet hanging off the antlers? Maybe even a section of brush had gotten stuck in his antlers? As the buck moved into the opening and in to full site, my heart began to beat so hard it immediately started pounding in my ears. That same pounding as I remembered when I was 5 when buck fever hit me for the very first time.
That wasn’t something stuck in his antlers, THAT WAS HIS ANTLERS! It was just mass and a lot of it. I dare not move. He was looking at the does right in my direction. I was pinned! I prayed for him to cut right through and walk right under my stand.... but he didn’t’. He kept moving towards the same direction the fork buck had went. Not wanting to move and spook him I was going to let him walk. No good shot. I just had to let him pass and hope that I would get another shot a different day, as he slipped into the brush almost out of my sight.
At this time, I had already decided I was taking the next week off to do nothing but sit in this deer stand and determined to chase this monster. Right at that moment, he ducked into the trees and he started heading towards the does. Just as I was starting to relax, my heart seized back up into my throat! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM is all I hear in my ears as the buck fever kicks in even harder. I glance ahead into the direction he was heading, and I only see that there is one opportunity. He’s about 20 yards away and the only shot available is through a basketball size opening through the trees on that trail. I pull my bow back and the tunnel vision hits. All I can see is through my peep into the basketball size opening. Waiting....... I see brown, and..... RELEASE. I watch my green LED knock fly through the air like it's in slow motion. I see hair fly and the buck kick and twist as he takes off back to the right over the hill.
My adrenaline is coursing through my veins, buck fever running rampant. I can’t believe what had just happened. I fly down the tree stand to check my arrow. As I pull the arrow out of the dirt it is covered in blood and with hair stuck in the arrow head. Excited, I start following the path to find blood. I find little spots here and there but nothing big. I stop to calm down and decide that it’s best to leave him lay in peace, not chancing kicking him up and having to track him even further. A few hours later, I rounded up the family to come track down the kill. We started back where I shot, we tracked him over the hill and found him laying in the native grasses. I was beyond excited! After 28 years with a passion for Whitetails, this deer of a lifetime was mine.
I still can’t believe it, a feeling of being blessed comes to mind every day to think that I was able to have this opportunity at a once in 20 lifetimes buck. If you love something, go out and do it. You never know when your big chance in life is going to be right in front of you. Head out and seize the moment, chase your dreams.
It’s been over 60 days and the rack has dried. The official score is coming. Keep tuned in to see the results.
Keep safe and happy hunting.
Author Cody Brink
With a passion for all things outdoor he is always on the look for the next adventure.