Today I didn't want to make that long hike again so i decided to hunt a funnel that we believed one of our biggest bucks uses during the rut to cross a road. Its a strip of woods with a swamp on one side and a super thick overgrown clearcut on the other. The strip of woods is about 100yds wide and we got numerous pictures of a big buck with a drop tine using the funnel last season. The buck did not develop a drop tine this season but hes still big. I have had a camera in this area since late august and in that time I had only got the bucks picture once, but was confident that once the rut kicked in he would be using it. I need a west or northwest wind to hunt the stand (which we have not had).
I climbed in the stand early and as I was unpacking my things in the dark I heard a deer walk up the hill from the bottom of the funnel. The deer was close, im guessing 20 yds, I could hear it feeding and I heard it defecate in the crunchy leaves. After about 10 minutes it fed its way down the hill. during this time I was just standing in the stand waiting until I felt like I could move without spooking the deer. Once it walked away I turned around and sat down and nocked an arrow as it was just barely starting to get light.
About 5 minutes after the deer (that I suspected was a doe) walked down into the funnel I could hear more deer walking, the walking quickly turned into running and grunting and I knew deer were chasing just 60 yds away, but it was still to dark to see. As the next few minutes passed I could start to see a little bit and I decided to roll a bleat can and grunt a few times in an attempt to keep the deer near me for just a few more minutes until I could get shooting light. I rolled the can about 3 times and gave a few short grunts. Rather than a deer coming from the bottom I instead heard a deer coming down from above. The deer was close but I couldn't see it in the gray light, it walked behind my stand from above me and walked down at a steady pace toward the chasing below which was still going on. After a few minutes I repeated the same calling sequence, this time I heard a deer coming up from the bottom on the same path that the deer had just walked down. behind my tree stand it is very thick with whips and brush (I can see, but I have no shooting lanes, and would only be able to shoot if the deer was less than 15 yds away). The deer came up and stopped behind a hemlock just 30yds away. The deer stood in that spot for what seemes like 5 minutes but was probably just a couple. at that point it let out a deep grunt and I knew it was a buck. The deer continued up the hill on the path the previous deer had come down and finally passed me at just 25yds, at that point I saw nothing but a huge body and horns. that deer walked back intot he funnel above me grunting the whole way.
A few minutes later I again repeated the calling this time I could hear a deer coming from directly behind me, this turned out to be small buck. It never offered me a shot but I wouldnt have shot it anyway knowing that the large buck was just above me. The small buck proceeded down the hill toward the chasing below that was still going on. Once more I called and another deer came up from the bottom, I could see a deer through the brush at 45yds but didn't get a very good look. These deer all eventually chased out of hearing range. About 20 minutes later a lone doe walked up out of the funnel about 45 yds in front of me. I thought that this doe might bring me a parade of deer (or at least I hoped), that never happened.
After I got down I checked a camera that was about 100yds away above me in the funnel in the same area where the mornings deer came down from, and where the big buck exited. The camera had been active including the drop tine buck. He had been in the area numerous times since the 7th of November. He had been captured 3 times in the morning hours on this day and once after I had seen him. All in all I would have loved to have got a crack at this buck, but I had a great morning and the stand location guess had panned out, so I couldn't complain. Below are a couple vids including the buck running by after I saw him on this morning.