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Rod, Gun & Game: Readying to chase rutting deer

While the early big game archery season in New York State got started Oct. 1, the annual rutting cycle for the deer will occur, 30 days later, and it will appear as though the deer are being chased by an invisible force – but it is only their urge to breed.

Bow hunting for whitetail deer is a great way to spend quiet time in the woods. It is also a great chance to fill your freezer, if you are lucky. Archery hunters have grown as a group, yet it is unusual to find other hunters in the woods; so, the bow season provides time in the woods without much competition from other hunters.

East Aurora resident Dieter Voss was hunting big game with his 12-year old son Collin, who completed his hunter-safety training and supplemental archery requirements to qualify as an eligible archery youth hunter, under the big game mentor rules. The senior Voss is a 6-year archery hunting veteran, who was still looking to harvest his first buck, having taken two does in his hunting experience, so far.

To accommodate his son during a hunt, he placed a comfortable fixed tree-stand under a medium trunk-size hemlock tree on private land, and added a hang-on chain stand two feet above the fixed stand. This provided a secure method to teach his son about deer calls, watching for game, staying quiet and motionless and enjoying the outdoors.

Last Friday was a day off from school and work for the two and perfect weather: no wind, dry leaves, a cloudless clear day with the rising sun and the temperature around 40 degrees. Dressed in Jim Crumley’s dark mossy oak camouflage, Quaker Boy grunt and bleat calls in a secure pocket, ‘Doe-In-Heat” scent carefully applied to the seven-foot string drag, the pair headed out to hunt near Colden.

Both hunters were using a Summit full-body harness, to assure safe hunting from well above ground level. As darkness disappeared, leaf-crunching symphonies were created by a number of gray and black squirrels that were working to store their winter nuts and acorns in safe places.

Finally, the dad told son that he spotted some deer legs silently moving beyond a nearby tree line about 60 yards away and told Collin to use the Quaker Boy bleat call. The deer immediately stopped walking and turned to look in the direction of the call. Remaining near motionless, the two hunters carefully viewed the deer walk clear of the trees and become more visible. It was a buck! It looked like a 4-point antler rack, but the body of the deer was very large.

Dad told Collin to stand up slowly and get ready, to hook his mechanical release onto the string loop of his youth size PSE Chaos bow set to 38-pounds draw, and he was ready. Dieter Voss said, “It was dead silent, as the buck reached the 20-yard shooting lane, where Collin did what he was taught by his archery instructor: he sounded off.” The deer stopped and froze in the lane, looking around to find a possible intruder buck that could be issuing a challenge to fight.

The younger, nervous Voss released his arrow, but it flew under the deer, between the front and rear legs and stuck into an ash tree five yards on the other side of the animal. The deer scooted forward about 40 yards and turned around to determine what the sound was.

The deer still did not see the hunters. Dad asked son to wait a minute or so and carefully use the bleat call again. The buck reversed his trail and started to come back to where the scented string was suspended, slowly walking to about the same spot where the first arrow was stuck in the tree. As he approached the shooting lane, the elder Voss stopped the deer with another call and released his arrow.

It was finally dad’s turn.

This was my son-in-law’s first buck and it was a very special day for me, the grandfather, too, especially after hearing the story the two shared about their unforgettable experience. It’s time for grandson to try his second shot, so we’re going hunting this weekend. The archery season will run through Nov. 15, the day before the state’s big game firearm season begins. Good luck, everyone!

Outdoor calendar:

– Nov. 2: Annual firearm sighting-in day, Evans Rod & Gun Club, Cain Road, Angola, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. All hunting firearms allowed, various yard range targets, covered shooting line, National Rifle Association-certified range, instructors on hand.

– Nov. 9 and 10: Niagara Frontier Gun Show, Springville Volunteer Fire Hall, 405 Main St., Springville. For more information, visit

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