My 2021 Va. Mountain Buck

Headwaters

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2022
Messages
10
I have been hunting the National Forest in western Va. off and on for 30 years. Some years I couldn't make it do to work and other obligations, but I get up there most years. This season was different than most years as I hunted with two friends I used to work with. We've camped and trout fished together but this was our first hunting trip.
Both of my friends are experienced deer hunters but have only hunted on private land in areas with high deer densities. I explained to them that we may hunt an entire week and only see a handful of deer much less kill any so they shouldn't get their hopes up too high and to go for the challenge of hunting big woods and the comradery of deer camp. They were up for it, and we planned to stay 10-12 days. We did some preseason scouting trips so they could learn the area and try out some new gear and everything was shaping up to be a great hunt.
We set up camp during the second week of black powder season and hunted the last four days before the rifle opener. We saw a few does and a small buck that we let walk hoping for something bigger. The last evening of black powder one of my friends killed a nice 8 point that came past his stand about 30 minutes after a doe came through. That set the bar pretty high and really got us excited about the rest of our week since we felt the rut was winding up and our chances could only improve.
Opening morning came and we all dressed and ate quickly before heading out in different direction. I had a stand located high on a ridge with good deer sign and lots of rubs. It took about two hours to get to my stand because I didn't want to overheat and freeze the rest of the day since I planned to sit all day. Daylight came and the wind picked up with an overcast threatening sky. A few hours after daylight the wind really picked up and it started to rain. The wind was gusting pretty good and limbs were falling all around me as I questioned my sanity for staying on my stand. I knew I had to stick it out because the rut was heating up and I felt the bucks would be moving. Around 11, sleet and snow squalls began moving through and for the next hour I leaned hard into the tree to break the wind and stay warm. The sky started to open up and the snow squalls moved out and I felt better about my chances. A little after noon I caught movement up the ridge and focused my attention in that direction. It was a deer moving down the ridge toward me and as it got closer I could tell it was a good buck so I slowly got the rifle up and steadied it against the tree. He walked to within 50 yards and stopped facing me but the shot was blocked by some branches. He stood there for a few seconds before continuing in my direction and as the cross hairs settled on his neck, I took the shot. Instead of dropping, he ran hard downhill to my right and I shot again before he dropped over the hill. For a minute I wasn't sure if I hit him but I'd checked the zero on my rifle a few days before and it was on. I stood up and walked over to where he was when I shot. No sign of blood or hair and I began to have doubts. I started walking in the direction he ran looking for blood but didn't see any. I stopped and looked around thinking about my shot when I heard leaves rustling just over the hill from me and was thinking maybe the deer was standing over the hill out of sight. Slowly, I eased over the crown of the hill looking for him and after about 20 steps could see him lying in the leaves right on the edge of a steep drop off. He wasn't moving, so I walked down to him and checked him with my rifle barrel. He was dead. The only thing that stopped him from sliding all the way down the ridge was a skinny sapling that caught him under his belly in front of his back legs. I got real lucky as getting him up that hill would have required help from camp or I would have had to cut him up and pack him out which would have required a trip all the way back to camp. I sat for a while admiring him and the view before getting to work. After I dressed him, I carried my pack and rifle to the top of the hill and left it. I cut a drag stick and tied his feet behind his antlers and drug him up hill to where I left my gear. Most of the drag was downhill from there with him pulling me over logs and rocks, but I got him back to camp around 4. I was exhausted but the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. My friends congratulated me and we all had a few before getting him hung up.
The rest of the week was great except we didn't see any more bucks which really didn't matter because we had a comfortable camp and were among good friends. We've been planning this years camp and are really looking forward to the challenge. 20211113_115822.jpg 20211113_115124.jpg Resized_20211116_084825.jpeg
 

EdP

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 18, 2020
Messages
408
Location
Southwest Va
Looks like a great hunt and you guys did well. I hunt the Mt Rogers high country from a backcountry camp most years and it is very hard to get on a deer. The number of hunters and the number of deer are both down significantly from the 1980s when I first started visiting the area, but there are some good bucks to be had.
 
OP
Headwaters

Headwaters

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2022
Messages
10
EdP, my experience with hunter and deer numbers is the same as yours. There used to be quite a bit of pressure where we hunt but it dropped off for quite a few years. It seems to be picking up again though.
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
95
Nice buck, sounds like y'all had a good time. I'm fortunate enough to have access to a farm in the Valley to meat hunt, they're sparse on NF.
 

hicountry1

Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
79
I have been hunting the National Forest in western Va. off and on for 30 years. Some years I couldn't make it do to work and other obligations, but I get up there most years. This season was different than most years as I hunted with two friends I used to work with. We've camped and trout fished together but this was our first hunting trip.
Both of my friends are experienced deer hunters but have only hunted on private land in areas with high deer densities. I explained to them that we may hunt an entire week and only see a handful of deer much less kill any so they shouldn't get their hopes up too high and to go for the challenge of hunting big woods and the comradery of deer camp. They were up for it, and we planned to stay 10-12 days. We did some preseason scouting trips so they could learn the area and try out some new gear and everything was shaping up to be a great hunt.
We set up camp during the second week of black powder season and hunted the last four days before the rifle opener. We saw a few does and a small buck that we let walk hoping for something bigger. The last evening of black powder one of my friends killed a nice 8 point that came past his stand about 30 minutes after a doe came through. That set the bar pretty high and really got us excited about the rest of our week since we felt the rut was winding up and our chances could only improve.
Opening morning came and we all dressed and ate quickly before heading out in different direction. I had a stand located high on a ridge with good deer sign and lots of rubs. It took about two hours to get to my stand because I didn't want to overheat and freeze the rest of the day since I planned to sit all day. Daylight came and the wind picked up with an overcast threatening sky. A few hours after daylight the wind really picked up and it started to rain. The wind was gusting pretty good and limbs were falling all around me as I questioned my sanity for staying on my stand. I knew I had to stick it out because the rut was heating up and I felt the bucks would be moving. Around 11, sleet and snow squalls began moving through and for the next hour I leaned hard into the tree to break the wind and stay warm. The sky started to open up and the snow squalls moved out and I felt better about my chances. A little after noon I caught movement up the ridge and focused my attention in that direction. It was a deer moving down the ridge toward me and as it got closer I could tell it was a good buck so I slowly got the rifle up and steadied it against the tree. He walked to within 50 yards and stopped facing me but the shot was blocked by some branches. He stood there for a few seconds before continuing in my direction and as the cross hairs settled on his neck, I took the shot. Instead of dropping, he ran hard downhill to my right and I shot again before he dropped over the hill. For a minute I wasn't sure if I hit him but I'd checked the zero on my rifle a few days before and it was on. I stood up and walked over to where he was when I shot. No sign of blood or hair and I began to have doubts. I started walking in the direction he ran looking for blood but didn't see any. I stopped and looked around thinking about my shot when I heard leaves rustling just over the hill from me and was thinking maybe the deer was standing over the hill out of sight. Slowly, I eased over the crown of the hill looking for him and after about 20 steps could see him lying in the leaves right on the edge of a steep drop off. He wasn't moving, so I walked down to him and checked him with my rifle barrel. He was dead. The only thing that stopped him from sliding all the way down the ridge was a skinny sapling that caught him under his belly in front of his back legs. I got real lucky as getting him up that hill would have required help from camp or I would have had to cut him up and pack him out which would have required a trip all the way back to camp. I sat for a while admiring him and the view before getting to work. After I dressed him, I carried my pack and rifle to the top of the hill and left it. I cut a drag stick and tied his feet behind his antlers and drug him up hill to where I left my gear. Most of the drag was downhill from there with him pulling me over logs and rocks, but I got him back to camp around 4. I was exhausted but the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. My friends congratulated me and we all had a few before getting him hung up.
The rest of the week was great except we didn't see any more bucks which really didn't matter because we had a comfortable camp and were among good friends. We've been planning this years camp and are really looking forward to the challenge. View attachment 414380 View attachment 414381 View attachment 414382
Well done
 

Brando'

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Southwest Virginia
A friend of mine and I have hunted Bath County NF the last few years. I'm in SW VA and he is near Richmond, so it's about halfway between the two of us. We have gotten decent bucks the past few years, and seen some really good ones. Not as big as yours though, that is a dandy buck. Deer density is low, and it usually takes us a few days to find the deer, as they seem to be in different areas each year. Only difference is this area has a lot of hunting pressure. So we tend to hunt really deep and steep, and surprisingly still run into other hunters. Because of this we are trying a different area this season. Most likely the Mount Rogers NRA, which is my stomping grounds and a much longer drive for my buddy. But there are less hunters here for sure. Congrats on your buck, that is a great one for sure.
 
OP
Headwaters

Headwaters

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2022
Messages
10
A friend of mine and I have hunted Bath County NF the last few years. I'm in SW VA and he is near Richmond, so it's about halfway between the two of us. We have gotten decent bucks the past few years, and seen some really good ones. Not as big as yours though, that is a dandy buck. Deer density is low, and it usually takes us a few days to find the deer, as they seem to be in different areas each year. Only difference is this area has a lot of hunting pressure. So we tend to hunt really deep and steep, and surprisingly still run into other hunters. Because of this we are trying a different area this season. Most likely the Mount Rogers NRA, which is my stomping grounds and a much longer drive for my buddy. But there are less hunters here for sure. Congrats on your buck, that is a great one for sure.
Thanks for the good words Brando. Good luck in Mount Rogers' this year. Post up if you get one.
 
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