A Helping Hand
They have haunted me for the last two years. Close encounters and I just couldn’t seem to get it done. When I say close I mean 5 yards close. I vowed this year to take care of business and put my tag on one of those whitetails that have teased me in the years past. I normally take a week off during the first of November to head north to Illinois, but this year I chose to use a little more annual leave and take a full two weeks. Surely, with that kind of time I could run a Killzone® through a buck, zip tie my tag to his antlers and bring him back to Louisiana.
I did not know that this year I would have a helping hand.
It has been a tough year for me and The Trisler Family. On February 6th, I lost my Dad, fellow hunter and mentor to a hard fought battle with MDS—a form of Leukemia. Our camp was built on the banks of Bull Lake Slough and has all of the hunting and fishing that Louisiana has to offer. The bayous are fed by Black River and the Larto Lake complex which creeps their way through Dewey Wills Management Area and borders our camp. I grew up there during the summer and fall months wetting a line, chasing deer and enjoying a campfire and the stories told around those fires. It was my Dads get away and a place that he held close to his heart. It was a place that all were welcome and hunting wasn’t taken all that serious.
A few years ago Harvey Ray White began camping, hunting and fishing with us. As my Dad and Harvey Ray were fishing one morning, Harvey Ray pulled a green Gatorade cap out of his pocket and mentioned to Daddy that he had something for him. As a joke, he had made Dad a “membership button” to his camp. On this “button” he had written “Bull Head Slough, F&H Club" with a large number 1 right in the center to signify my Dads founding membership status. After a good laugh my Dad stuck the "membership button" in his pocket for safe keeping.
After his passing my Mom found the button a few months later and wanted to know if I wanted it. Knowing the importance of it to my Dad I gladly accepted and mentioned to her that I would use it as a good luck charm for the upcoming hunting season. I kept it in my truck and thought about it several times while bow hunting Louisiana in October but never took it to the stand with me.
After a few days in Illinois hunting with the guys at NAP and good friend Larry Crawford, I thought of “my secret weapon” that I was carrying in the truck. The weather was warming up as a front approached and the deer movement was slowing down—and a little extra help couldn’t hurt. That Saturday morning as I loaded all my gear I went to my truck and grabbed the “button” and pinned it to my cap not really thinking of the significance of what I was doing.
That morning I was hunting the edge of a CRP field that dropped off into a hardwood bottom with several fingers feeding into it. At 9:00am I noticed horns slipping through the bottom and I grabbed my bow and grunt call. After a couple of grunts the buck looked my way and began a slow trot in my direction. He stopped at 50 yards and began looking for the buck he had just heard so I gave him a couple more soft grunts. The buck ran my way barely allowing me enough time to drop the call, draw my bow, and settle the pin behind his shoulder at 20 yards.
After calming my nerves and shaking “buck fever” I called my wife and told her that I would be coming home a bit early this year. I then began to think about the good luck charm on my cap. I called my Mom and told her what had happened with a shaky voice and tears rolling down my face. We had a laugh then a cry. I climbed out of my stand and began the short blood trail with the help of Larry Crawford and his son Eric.
There is no doubt that Dad was with me that morning in the woods of Illinois. He may have left the shot up to me but I believe it was Daddy that helped persuade that buck to travel within my bow range that morning. It has been like that my entire life. He would give me a helping hand to point me in the right direction and leave it up to me to get the job done.
Daddy………we got the job done this year!