I had the thrill, but missed the kill....again. After a couple of days in my ground blind, I decided to get on my feet and do some stalking on Monday. It was my last day off for bow hunting and I wanted to make the most of it. Off I went right into a deep woods entrance that I have left untouched for about five years. I had been using a salt lick (deer cane) placed about 75 yards from the entrance to pull them close enough to a nearby treestand. The deer cane works...they use it so much that the hole is dug down over a foot deep this year. But I never have pulled anything in during shooting time. The entrance is in the low spot of the high acres and leads down into the big gully. The gully is in the middle of an aged woods that has a thick undercover of redberry bushes and wild grape vines. Inside I was surrounded by the oak and wild cherry trees, and by big fat squirrels that didn't pay the least bit of attention to me I guess because they just assumed that I was one of the herd. This area had never been cleared by her grandfathers family and I doubt it had ever been cleared since the earth was formed. I was hesitant about going in. I have only gone in there a few times over a period of many years because I believe that if I spook them from there too many times then they will find another safe haven. The gully must be 20 yards across and 20 feet deep and after about 200 yards of downhill thick cover it opens into a low density newer forest. I know the herd spends much of its time there protected from heat and wind/cold and civilization. Man what a start to the day just to be in there. It was like being in the Bambi movie. Red and gray squirrels as big as bunnies did not even budge as I walked by them within 10 feet. Busy eating hedge apples and stuffing goodies in the ground. After I gave up on the gully, I hiked over to where the old milkhouse used to be and low and behold I found a "hot" path. Looks like a daily one with heavy traffic. Seems that the herd has indeed noticed that the house has been empty for 7 years. They now have a large bedding area in the corner of the hillside next to the porch. The area catches the afternoon sun and has a good outlook for incoming coyote. The old 40 acre corn field has not been planted in 5 years and the brush is high, but they have worn an obvious clear opening all the way down to the creek. I couldn't really find a good hiding spot for an ambush in that area, so I reminisced for a bit over the good old days on the farm while soaking up that afternoon sun and then moved on....back to the buck hole. The buck hole is where my most extravagant set-up is located. Ground blind facing deep no-mans land. 10 yards behind it and facing the other way is a tree stand. I use two drip bags to put them on predictable paths with a sure clear shot. I usually choose the ground blind because the adirondack rocker is hard to resist. A big one came in after shooting time on the night before and he tried to spook me out of the ground blind. Blowing like a madman at either the decoy or me. Gotta admit he had me scared because I was unloaded. I have heard one first hand story of "after dark" encounters and my nephews are alot faster on there feet than me. It has been said that you don't have to be a fast runner when being chased by a grizzly bear. You just have to be a little faster than the slowest guy in the group. But I am that slowest dude. So I turned the flashlight on to him and lit up those evil eyes. He got rigid and snuck off. I was disappointed and certain that I smartened him up a bit too much. Worried that maybe I totally spoiled the hunt. I climbed up in the stand at about 3 pm and then at probably 4 pm, in came the relaxed crunch, crunch, crunch that we all get excited about. I watched him come in over my right shoulder. He walked within six feet of my ground blind and never even looked at it. He wasn't frantic, he was just on the trail sorta lookin' for some 'tang with a take it or leave it attitude. He kept on moving comfortably and all he needed was another 10 yards around the bushy stuff and then he was my dream shot at exactly 20 yards. Six points with two on each side that were up about 14-18 inches. Really nice. I was fantasizing about the hams and steaks just like those old Elmer Fudd cartoons. But dangit a bit further and then he stopped. Something not quite right. He thought about it for three or four minutes and stuck his head into the brush off of the path. He turned around, stomped all four feet a few times and then just mosied off quietly back from whence he came. It took me just two hours to figure it out. What I forgot to mention above was that I had to pee at 2:45 pm. Like all dumb deer hunters, I relieved myself right next to my predetermined buck path. Right exactly where he stopped and stuck his head into the brush. Exactly. Why it took two hours to figure that one out should help you understand how I can go to all that trouble and still come out empty handed for the last four years - soon to be five. What I learned so far this year: Get off my butt and scout every year. Make all field deposits cross wind by at least a good 50 yards. Never give up on a good spot during the rut that has not been overworked.