Some of you may have read my post about 3 weeks ago searching for a blood tracking dog. Well, here is the update/ending to that story. FULL DISCLOSURE: it's a long story, but the pictures are at the bottom. Exactly 22 days ago I released my first arrow at a buck I was soon to name Joe (Joe is a coworker of mine who likes to tell stories of all the times he's died in the past, but is somehow still battling on). At about 5:30 P.M. on October 20th I climbed into a pre set stand since I was running short on time. Shortly after getting all set up I turned on my camera and began to discuss my setup for the evening, when a button buck came charging in behind me appearing to be frightened by something behind it. Seconds later I see antlers coming through the thicket, headed right down the trail that is directly under this stand. I prepare the camera for the possible shot, grab my bow and turn my body to be ready for his approach. After giving me a short stare down and seeming very unimpressed, he dropped his gaze and I came to full draw. That first shot was at about 3 yards, and the arrow went right over his back. How a guy can miss an entire deer at 3 yards is something I will never understand, but no matter my level of understanding it happened anyways. Around 20 seconds later I released my second arrow, at 35 yards, roughly 10 yards outside my comfort zone. That arrow looked to be true, but after 200 yards of blood and countless hours of searching over the next few days I came up empty handed. It's a gut wrenching feeling wounding an animal and not finding them, especially knowing you made a snap decision to take a shot you never should have taken. Unfortunately sometimes pride, desperation or just plain stupidity gets the best of us. Things turned around on Nov 7th after pulling a card from a trail camera I had set on a scrape near the original shot. The first video to play on my screen was him, standing there seemingly unaffected by the events that previously unfolded. Looking back at the video from the night of the hunt and now looking at the trail cam video it was apparent this deer had been shot in the back before, and was healing from that wound. My shot would make the second time this season he had been hit, but he appeared in as good of condition as ever (so goes the name... Joe). At this point I decided I had to hunt hard, hunt smart and make it a point to put an end to what I had started. Over the next week I would see Joe multiple times in a small core area, but always eluding me at a distance far outside my comfort zone. That was soon to end. As I looked over the map studying terrain and structure, trying to find a spot to make work on an odd east wind, only one spot made sense. A narrow finger of cut beans reaches nearly 200 yards off the main body of the field, ending as a 40 yard wide tip that borders the west side of my property line. If I were to set up towards the middle of this point it would allow my wind to blow out into the open field, leaving me with two inside corners (one to my north and one to my south) within 20 yards and a thick bedding area directly to my east. With the head of a deep gulley starting about 15 yards off the south corner of the point, I would have a perfect pinch for anything coming from the west and be just enough north that my wind would stay clear of its nose. It was that "almost right for him and almost wrong for you" type of wind I'm always looking for. It also just so happens that this area to the southwest is the area I have been watching Joe run does over the last several days. When I approached the location I came to an upsetting realization. There were only a handful of trees in the roughly 10 yard strip that I needed to be in. All of these trees but one were to big around for my climbing stick straps to fit, and the one small enough was almost too small. The single tree I had available was about 10" wide at the base, and dead. I weighed my options with trees slightly off location of where I needed to be, but I just kept going back to the measly little dead tree. It wasn't the tree I wanted to be in, but it was the tree I needed to be in and so up it I went. As soon as I got settled in, and while I was cussing this stupid tree and how flimsy it was, I noticed a nice rub on a trail coming out of the pinch point to my south. "Well that's a good sign" I thought to myself. Shortly after this discovery I watched three does running a ridge to my southwest. The stand swayed as I reached for my binoculars, almost as if I had just stood up in a canoe. A few minutes later I noticed Joe, running a few more does on that same ridge but heading away from my position, unimpressed by my attempts to sound like a rival buck. Over the next few hours the temperature dropped into the low 30's as I continued to see more does moving through the area. At about 4:30 I noticed a doe slowly working her way feeding through the thicket to my east. Over the next 20 minutes that one doe became two and they were now within yards of my tree, pinning me completely still. It was just at this moment that my camera battery decided it had enough of the cold and called it quits, and then I heard the grunt. Crashing through the woods and down into the deep valley by the pinch went a doe, and the grunts were coming fast behind her. Great I thought, here comes Joe chasing that doe and I can't try to call him this way with these two does directly under my stand. Joe comes up to the head of the valley and looks down at the doe he was chasing, and then over my way and sees the single ladies below my stand. Apparently he liked what he saw, and he started my way. As I stand there processing everything that has happened in the last few seconds I realize my bow is hanging up behind me at about 5 o'clock, I have two does directly under my stand now on alert, I have zero cover from the 9" of tree that is left at the height my stand is and Joe is coming down the trail I set up for and he's coming fast. Two large oaks stood between the trail Joe was headed down and myself, this is where I needed to make my moves. As he closed in on the first oak I slowly turned for my bow, grabbing it and spinning back around all while trying not to tip off the does. At this point one doe was directly under my stand and the other was about 6 yards out directly to my East. Somehow I made those moves without the does noticing, probably because their focus was on this grunting buck headed their way. As he crossed behind the second oak I started my draw cycle, and a few steps later I was releasing my third and final arrow through both of his lungs at 12 yards. Joe isn't the biggest or the oldest buck roaming the forest, but I'm a firm believer that success isn't measured in numbers. It's not about how many inches he scores, how many years he's been alive or how much money you make a year for that matter. Success is falling down but getting back up, it's being able to enjoy your life, spending it with the ones you love, doing the things you love to do, keeping your morals straight and making right on the wrongs you've done. Always learning from your mistakes, and not being too proud to admit you make them. Being humble in your success, and supporting the success of others. The hunt for Joe has had me at the lowest of lows and highest of highs. It's taught me about persistence, patience and limitations. It's taught me that you don't win the battle every day, but if you stick it out long enough you may just win the war. Most importantly it's taught me that success shared with family and friends is the best success of all. I can't wait to see what I learn next year..