By Jeff Grinstead
It’s amazing how things work out sometimes when you really don’t expect them to at all.
It all started on a warm, muggy afternoon in late September of 2010. The 26th to be exact but not just any 26th. This day just happened to be me and my wife Jodie's twelfth anniversary and guess where I was celebrating it? If you guessed at a fancy restaurant and a candlelight dinner then you would be wrong. That’s right in a tree stand in search of a monster buck! Now don’t get too worked up over the fact that I was hunting on our anniversary. My daughter had a soccer game that afternoon so my wife and I made plans to do something the following weekend.
My good friend Tommy Freeman finished up with his basketball workout early and gave me a call to see about hunting that evening. The weather was just not cooperating and being this early in the season I felt that the odds of deer moving before dark would be slim to none especially something with any size, a doe maybe, but definitely not a mature buck. It doesn’t take much to get me in the whitetail woods this time of year that’s for sure so I took him up on his offer and we headed out at about four o’clock.
This early in the season everything was still very green and thick. At this point it seemed fall was an eternity away and with the temperature it felt more like we should have been at the pool instead of the woods. The area we were hunting has been one of great success for me and definitely one of my favorites. I was in a tree stand overlooking a man made travel corridor between a thick bedding area and a green field full of a variety of different grasses including clover. I set Tommy up in a ladder stand in a spot where the oaks were dropping acorns like crazy. We were only a couple hundred yards apart.
The hours went by and about the only action was that of a couple squirrels collecting their winter meals and a groundhog moving across the green field. Tommy and I would text back and forth every once in awhile just to see if each other had seen anything.
I can remember one text that I sent to Tommy that night about 20 minutes before dark; “haven’t seen a thing, 2 hot deer movin late”. He responded about 5 minutes later with a quote that little did we know it then but now has become our motto; “expect the unexpected”. Within seconds of reading this I caught movement out of the corner of my eye to the left. It was a small buck that had came up out of the bedding area and crossed the trail and headed down into the open woods. Then another buck, this one a little bigger than the first. I got a good look at him through the binoculars and he was an eight point that looked 2.5 years old. Just as I sat the binoculars down I heard something move to my right. Don’t get too excited though it was only a squirrel. After I watched him for a couple seconds I looked back to my left and there he stood. A big, wide, high tined 8 pointer that was given the name Goal Post 8. Now I won’t take credit for the name. He was given it by a good friend and neighboring hunter who had several trail cam photos of him that summer.
When Goal Post 8 stepped out onto the trail he looked down toward the woods where the other two bucks had disappeared, then towards the green field. He did this about three times before making a mistake that would prove to be his very last. The green field was just to tempting for him and he headed that way, right into my shooting lane. At this point my heart was racing and it seemed like it was getting darker by the second but the big wide 8 point had managed to make it to me right before dark and I sent an arrow right into him that would prove to be fatal.
I normally would wait a while before going after a deer like this but the rain clouds had moved in and it started to sprinkle. I called my good friend Jimmy Kearns and he said to sit tight till he got there. We did just that. When Jimmy got here we tracked the buck for about 200 yards and jumped him up. We knew he was hurt bad because he never moved till we practically stepped on him. Once that happened we made the always tough but usually correct decision to let him go for the night.
That night all kind of thoughts ran through my head. What did I do wrong? Is there something wrong with my bow? Did I forget to put a new broad head on? I thought the shot looked perfect but without the deer I was really starting to wonder.
The next morning my uncle and a couple friends sat out on foot to try and find my buck. It was Monday morning and I had to work so I was relying 100 percent on their efforts.
At about 9:30 that morning I received a picture on my cell phone of Goal Post 8 lying on his side expired. They found him! I could not have finished work that day fast enough. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the buck that would prove to be one of my largest deer ever!