• June - Buck of the Month - Adam Nickle's December Victory

    We all know the late season can provide some of the best hunting of the season if you are willing to brave the elements. TOO's very own Adam "5Cent" Nickle did just that this past December and harvested the largest buck of his career as a direct result of his willingness to battle Mother Nature. Adam and I became good friends nearly a decade ago while fishing and hunting the rolling hills of SE Ohio. Despite growing up in a hunting family, I was still a long ways from being the hardcore hunter I am today. Adam deserves a lot of credit for stoking the fire inside me during our days roaming Fox Lake and Strouds Run. Seeing Adam take down such a magnificent buck this winter was not only a proud moment for him, but for me as well. Iíll never forget the text message he sent me late that night he first laid eyes on this buck. It was such a joy to see a close friend enjoying the use of his first trail camera; a feeling I know all TOO well! I harvested the first big buck I ever captured on camera and I was praying Adam would get to do the same. Congrats on taking a gorgeous trophy buddy. You definitely deserved it!!!

    The Unexpected Victory

    Deep into December, winter in North Central Ohio was in full force. The outside temperature was a crisp 8* with a 15mph NE wind, pushing the wind chill into the blood slowing single digits. A two day old, 2Ē layer of powdery snow covered the region whose beauty helped the mind ignore the annoyance of the cold. The last day of Ohioís extended gun season weekend had arrived and little did I know at the time, it would change my hunting career forever. It was a change that most people these days wonít understand or appreciate, but one that any deer hunterís dream is made of.

    The 2010 archery season to date was less than stellar in terms of harvesting a deer. Instead it was turning out to be a very informative year for the property I was hunting. A whopping 2.5 acres that starts roughly 20 yards from the back patio door of the house my wife and I moved into 2 years ago. Yes you read that right, 2.5 acres. A mere 108,900 sq/ft of wooded cover that I knew the deer were passing through to get to the larger woods that adjoins the property to the North.

    To be successful, I would have to find the perfect ambush location. It had to be a location that didnít matter which way the wind was blowing, or who was driving down the road at any given moment. The sound of someone pulling into our driveway or the squeak of the garage door wheels as it was opening could not affect the outcome of any hunts. Unfortunately as all deer hunters know, this was simply to reduce the variables that could ruin a hunt. In the end, it is simply out of all of our hands. Success with a bow early was the main goal.

    The addition of another stand and my first game camera came in late October. The camera showed quickly that there was a group of does loyal to the area and they seemed to want to show they were very photogenic ladies. They appeared nightly on the camera.

    I was pumped to know there were deer that were frequenting the area on a regular basis. With the does, the bucks would follow, but that was not the point. I had not harvested a deer in 5 years due to lifeís priorities and meat in the freezer was the #1 priority just as it has been for every year that I have spent in the woods. I was raised as a hunter by my uncles in north central Ohio and was taught that it was all about the harvest of an animal. The size of the deer or whether it had bone on its head was not important. I was spoiled with my time in southern Ohio while attending OU, but that was a distant memory. Right now, it was all about connecting with a deer and filling a tag at our new home. Itís amazing how quickly you can lose that magical taste of venison on the taste buds.

    The monthís passed, and the rut came and went. The deer seemed to vanish overnight. I was lucky if I could catch a glimpse at a deer sneaking through the property minutes before or after shooting time. I decided a change was needed. After watching many of the deer take the same path just outside my shooting range, I picked out a new tree. I setup the camera and moved the ladder stand to the new location. I was only about 45 yards from the house and could wave at my wife through the window while she was making dinner. Convinced this was the magical spot I was not, but I had to give it a try. Quickly I picked up deer on the camera and my hopes were high again.

    Ohioís regular gun season came and went just like the rut, lots of hours on stand with high hopes, but an empty tag when it was time to head home. We were still missing that major snow storm to put the deer into a feeding pattern and I was patiently waiting. The air continued to cool, and I could feel my chance of hunting in the snow was soon around the corner. Finally the snow came the next week and winter was in full gear. Thinking the weather would be the key to my success, I was stunned to find the next picture. This was one of many from that night and it was time to turn up the heat.

    I proceeded to go all out with the scents again. Four scent canisters with Tinkís #69 and 1 Buck Bomb were deployed the next morning before work. The other pictures showed a lot of deer being interested in this doe, so even though I was aiming to lure in a buck, I knew the scents wouldnít spook the local girls with all the scent in the air. I had to chance it at this point and I still had not filled a tag.

    A few days later as we neared the start of the extended gun season, I decided to check the camera. Thatís when I came across a new comer to the area. Did the doe and scents bring him in, or had he been lurking in the shadows the whole time? Was he a deer from down the road or across the street, I had no idea. I had never seen this buck, but wow, words couldnít describe what I felt when I saw him for the first time.

    After losing a few hours sleep that night, dreaming of bagging this buck, I came to a hard realization. This deer did not get to be this old and big by being dumb. Just like the deer have shown all year, he was going to stay nocturnal. I fell asleep thanking God that I got to know he was around and thanked him for the pictures I was able to keep.

    The weather continued to stay cold and the deer were moving. Finally they couldnít resist the urge to feed and they were hitting the area hard. A few new deer showed up, including some small bucks. All of them were shooters in my book if they would only present themselves for a shot. The extended gun season started in the morning and I was really feeling confident about being in the stand first thing in the morning.

    Saturday, December 18th came and cold canít even describe the weather outside. It was that dry cold that as soon as you walked out the door of the truck, the cabin, or in this case the garage, the nose hairs were frozen instantly. The eyelashes stuck for a millisecond every time you blinked and the eyes watered at the thought of being somewhere warmer. Snow was in the forecast for the day, but a front was moving through. Wind chills would be in the single digits as the day progressed, but that was OK. The deer had to move and had to feed. I had to be there for that moment of opportunity. The full coverage of hunting clothes explains how cold it actually was.

    Well, the whole day was spent in the stand in near zero weather and I did not see a single deer. Toes and fingers were frozen to the bone, and I couldnít believe I went the whole day seeing nothing. How could they not get up and move? How could they not feed? Everything I was taught and I have learned over the years was completely wrong it seemed. I decided to sleep in the next morning. Maybe I was putting down to much scent, even the Scent Smoker was used every hunt, and the thought of sleeping in the next morning crossed my mind. I struggled with it for a bit that night and decided that it was what I needed to do. Fight the urge to be in the stand at the break of dawn and see what the evening would prove. It was done, an evening hunt the last few hours of the Ohio extended gun season it would be. I found this picture after the next day checking the camera, yes it was cold.

    Sunday the last day of Ohioís gun season came. Nice and warm in bed that morning, I reluctantly slept in. As I filled my coffee cup that morning, I kept a keen eye out the kitchen window in the area of the stand. Nothing new on the ground seemed to show there was any disturbance in the night. I strained to see if I could pick up some new tracks, or some turned up leaves, but nothing was visible. I was anxious to get in the stand and couldnít take it any longer. 1pm came and I decided it was time. I ascended the ladder stand and prayed that I would be able to fill a tag this last day of gun season. Knowing full well that I had another month of archery season, I was hoping an easy kill with the gun would be in store. I wouldnít pass up the chance to buy another tag and continue to hunt the late archery season, but I knew this would be my best chance.

    A long 3.5 hours on stand yielded nothing. The magical last half hour was quickly arriving and I decided that I would stay warm. The muzzle loader would stay hung up, and the hands would stay in the pockets of the coat. If something were to happen, I would make due and figure out how to get into position to take a shot. Then it happened. With 10 minutes of shooting time left, I heard something cross the street behind me. A quick head turn behind the tree showed a buck crossing the road. His hooves clicked on the solid ice as he slowly made his way across and he was headed my way. It was game time, now it was time to get into shooting position. Still seated, I fetched the muzzleloader out of the holder. Slowly standing and turning, I took a peak to see where he was at. To my surprised, he closed the distance much quicker than I expected. We were locked in a stare down, and thatís when I realized it was him.

    A 20 second stare down started. Our eyes were locked, and my muscles were frozen. It seemed like an eternity. Thousands of thoughts rushed through my head. Should I raise the gun and try to get a shot off before he spooks, or should I hold my ground. A full body scan showed he was relaxed, and that he caught some movement out of his eye. He wasnít going to bolt and I had the upper hand. And just like, I had won. He put his head back down and continued on a path angling away from me. I was able to raise the gun and get the crosshairs on him. A patch of thickets was all that was between me and him; he had to clear them for me to take a shot. A few seconds later he stepped into an opening roughly 45 yards away. The shot presented itself and I squeezed the trigger. His front legs collapsed and his body flopped onto his left side.

    He was still, I had won.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: TOO's June Buck of the Month - Adam Nickle's December Victory started by Jesse View original post