The 2014 Indiana Deer Hunt was beyond my expectations! It was marked with many first experiences since I’ve hunted Indiana. Hunting is much more than the kill, it’s the smells, sights and memories made with your friends and family, both good and bad. In the end, 2014 was a great year and it all started with a slight change in the weather.

For the second year in a row, we had a major weather event. Last year it was tornadoes and warm weather. This year it was freezing temperatures. The average low for the week was 15 and the average high was 37, that’s 20 degrees below normal! Moreover, the wind chill made it feel as low as -6 on Tuesday morning. It was painfully cold!

The weather event and the first two days of firearm season spooked the deer as expected. They became nocturnal on Sunday, the second day of firearm season. Fortunately, my father, Charlie, shot a nice 4pt buck early Sunday afternoon as it followed a mature 8pt in full rut chasing several doe. It was a sight to see!

Monday morning marked a significant change in temperature with snow forecasted later in the day. Nothing was moving that morning, but I did spot a deer just after 2:30PM. Unfortunately, I lost sight of it soon after. I waited impatiently and scanned the woods for movement. I grunted a few times to see if curiosity would get the deer to move. Nothing… I waited for 30 minutes and decided to get off my ladder stand and walk over to where I’d seen it. Big mistake! I spooked that same deer minutes later. It was only 5o yards away from me concealed behind a fallen tree and some brush. By the time I realized what was happening, the doe was sprinting away from me. I fruitlessly shot a few rounds at her, but I didn’t have a realistic shot. It would have been luck if I hit her. 30 seconds later, I caught my breath and adjusted to the disappointment. The thoughts of what I should have, could have and didn’t do rolled through my mind and a few lessons were learned. As I walked back to my stand it started to snow.

The snow started with just a few flakes and some frozen rain. By 5PM, it was coming down hard and the overcast skies turned into a bluish glow as the snow came down. It was beautiful to see, but difficult to navigate. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose your bearings when it’s snowing. Three to four inches of snow fell overnight.

The next morning we headed out to a different property, a local farm where Kelly was doing some roof work. The darkness turned into a bluish glow as the sun came up. We found our spots to set up and patiently waited for deer to start moving. It was painfully cold that morning. I’d never hunted in snow and freezing temperatures until this year. At 10:30AM Kelly spotted a young buck, a 4pt I think sprinting through the woods and headed towards me and my dad. He sprinted through the corn field and I didn’t spot him until he was just at wood’s edge, approximately 60 yards away from me. I grunted loudly a few times to get him to stop, but he didn’t stop. He snuck into the woods and disappeared. This time around I decided not to take the shot since it wasn’t a clean shooting lane. I hoped he’d simply turn toward me. He never did…

The following few days were extremely cold with wind chills below zero. Kelly and I ventured out one morning and I saw ice forming on my eyelashes. Another first! The week continued on with little to no deer movement. We’d see the deer tracks in the snow in the morning which told us they were only coming out at night. I was discouraged, but that’s hunting for you and maybe I’ll get my deer before Friday.

It was Friday morning, my last day in Indiana and I’ll be flying back to Miami that night. Kelly and I were still looking for something to shoot at. He got his buck during archery season and lost track of a doe he’d shot midweek. It was 10 degrees just after sunrise and fresh deer tracks were everywhere. The morning past with no deer and the thought of heading home empty handed was become more real by the minute. It was 2:30PM and I lowered my rifle to the ground. It was time to go. Just then, Kelly called me and said he’d walk the woods directly in back of me to see if any deer are bedded down. I raised my rifle back up to my climber and waited patiently. 15 minutes later I heard a gunshot. My adrenaline started flowing as I intensely scanned the woods looking for Kelly and/or a deer. Nothing in sight! I quickly texted Kelly asking if it was him? No answer. A few minutes later a heard something coming from my left. It was a 6pt buck running from something. It looked confused, looking for somewhere to run. I quickly grunted twice as I aimed my 450 Bushmaster directly at his chest. BANG! The shot pierced his chest, blowing out his lungs and exited his abdomen, cleanly breaking his left rear leg. The 6pt dropped immediately and took his last breath shortly after. It was an amazing finish to a long cold week. I shot my buck on the last hour of the last day in Indiana.

Lastly, I’d mentioned a couple first experiences above during the 2014 hunt. Here are a few more:

– First year my dad and I harvested a buck on the same trip and on the same property.
– First time Kelly, my dad and I killed a buck in the same year
– First deer I’ve killed with an AR rifle, via the 450 Bushmaster