Well today marks the end of muzzleloader season, the last day this season to take a buck with a firearm, there are still opportunities for harvesting a doe after Christmas and you can still hunt either sex with a bow. It is also my last chance to lift the curse that has plagued me since the first morning of buck season nearly a month ago, and it has been that long since I have seen a deer with anything resembling antlers on its head.
I thought that maybe the curse had been lifted last week after a successful day of doe hunting in Pendleton County. I was fortunate enough to take a nice big doe on the one day I was able to get out to hunt last week. A very cold morning, but sunny, and I was able to slip up on a couple does feeding on a small oak flat in the sunshine. Everything worked out so well I hoped the evil curse placed on me by that magical one horn buck a month ago was over but I was mistaken, I still have not seen a single antlered deer since.
It's odd, since my encounter with the uni-buck, I have spoke with other people who have had the same experience after similar encounters. I ran into a friend of mine who suffers from the same affliction this season as me, only his one horn buck sighting came while squirrel hunting this year and the buck was a four point, just all on one side. It would have been a very respectable eight-point buck, but it was missing one whole side, and he too has not seen a single buck since. Another person told me he had the same problem a few years back after seeing a small fork horn buck with only one fork and he too had no luck the rest of the season. So it isn't just me, there may just be something to this uni-buck jinx, that makes four people that I know of who have experienced a complete lack of buck sightings after encountering a one antlered deer. However, as I write this I still have one more day to hunt and one never knows what may happen.
I have only been out once with my muzzleloader and it was very cold and what deer I did see were does again. I chose to hunt Randolph County where you can only take bucks with your muzzleloader; I may hunt in Pendleton again today where I can take either sex. But then again, I have a vendetta with a particular buck around here and want some redemption, so I may just hang around his location and see if I can get a shot at him to lift this curse on me, and maybe help a few other people as well.
It will be tough however, finding bucks late in the season can be challenging, the rut is basically over and what bucks that are left are bedded, resting up from the rigors of the rut. Bucks will usually hole up in the thickest cover they can find but they will be up to feed occasionally and if a doe that didn't breed earlier comes into heat, he will be up chasing her in no time.
There are opportunities out there and in many counties you can harvest a buck or doe and this can make for enjoyable hunting late in the season. It may be cold and snowy but the does will be on the move sometime during the day and often feed in the middle of the day taking advantage of the warmest part of the day and any sun that is out. The deer need to feed heavily right now to build their fat reserves for the winter and will frequent oak and beech flats during the day and bed nearby often on a south facing slope.
I hope that as you read this I will have broken my curse and harvested a buck, if not, there is always next year. It has been an interesting though maybe not productive deer season for me. I have enjoyed every day I was able to hunt, as frustrating as some were, it was still great to be hunting with good friends and there is meat in the freezer, even if it is a doe.