My love of hunting on Halloween cannot be overstated. For deer hunters, it’s a special time to be out in the woods. Fall colors are in full swing and the cool, crisp days of late October kick off some of the best days of deer season. Buck movement is on the rise as the rut is heating up. The anticipation of rattling in a big mature Halloween buck is almost too much to bear. Will I be tricked, or will I be treated? Will he be symmetrical? Or will he resemble Freddy Krueger’s claw on one side? These are the big questions on my mind during this Halloween hunt.
With the shorter hunting days of Fall, the day will end early enough to go pass out candy to Trick or Treaters and enjoy some slasher flicks—unless I’m following a blood trail of my own making! Regardless of what happens, it’s a good day.
As I peer out the window of my Ambush blind, no Freddy Krueger bucks have made an appearance yet. But neither have any big mature bucks or bucks of any stature. However, the ventless heater in the blind is keeping me warm and toasty. For now, that is good enough. It’s early, it’s chilly, and I’m just enjoying my coffee and some Halloween candy.
You know the candy. The one they refer to as “Satan’s earwax” or the “shed teeth of tiny toddler demons.”
Its name is candy corn.
This is why I trust my Ambush blind. I know I can sit here in my comfy blind chair and snack away on these terrible yet addictive candies. The 4-layer wall construction offers incredible sound and scent-proofing. That’s important because it means the Halloween buck won’t smell my nasty, waxy little sugar triangles or hear my screams when I crack a tooth. Luckily my coffee is helping soften them. Why did I love these things as a kid? Ah, I remember. Sticking them on my teeth for fangs.
The Halloween Buck
I had only been in the blind for an hour and a half when a couple of does moved into the small clearing. They were feeding on acorns that dropped off a couple of white oaks positioned toward the middle of the clearing. Looking back, I was glad I had my blind elevated and set back into the edge of the tree line. The elevation gives a similar aerial view as a tree stand, although not as high.
Having my blind tight into the field edge allowed me to get into the blind under the cover of the tree canopy. That helped keep me hidden from deer that may have beaten me to the area. Luckily I was ahead of them and didn’t bump any in the dark coming in. After loudly crunching through the unavoidable minefield of dried-up fallen leaves, all I had to do was get in and wait for legal shooting hours.
Deer activity was starting to pick up in the clearing, one of a few little food sources that lie between some known bedding areas and large agricultural fields. A few more does and a little forky had come in to join the others and meandered around.
I had just taken a sip of my coffee and grabbed my rattling horns to start a sequence when I looked up. Not expecting to see anything, I jumped and gasped.
There he stood shrouded in the early morning mist, with just his head and front right shoulder exposed. A beautiful behemoth. A true whitetail freak. The Catfish Hunter of bucks. The Halloween buck!
Except for nearly choking on candy corn, I was speechless. Buck fever had hit, and I was down with the sickness. My head was spinning. Flashing thoughts with all kinds of weirdness—Sir Mix-A-Lot’s familiar tune going through it as I sang “I like big bucks, and I cannot lie” to myself.
My coffee tumbler began to tremble, my pulse quickened, and through my hyperventilating, I quickly guessed an inside spread of over 28 inches. This deer possibly went at 220 gross, and he was big-bodied. Without a doubt, a giant buck.
I grabbed my bow off the hanger. As I hooked my release onto the D-loop of its string, the Halloween buck decided it was safe and began to make his way out to the acorns. I couldn’t believe it; he was closing the distance!
When he got within top pin range, he suddenly stopped and turned more to his right looking directly at me. In an unsettling moment, as his eyes locked with mine, his left antler seemed to drop an inch or two and then completely fall off.
“What the—” I said to myself. I gasped again, and this time not a good one. It was then that the full grotesqueness of what I was looking at came into focus. The entire left side of the Halloween buck’s face was missing; hide, flesh, everything, all the way down to the bone. Even its eye socket was hollowed out.
I continued looking over this buck in horror as the full realization began to unfold. The Halloween buck’s bones and ribcage were exposed with alternating patches of rotting flesh. I could see the mutilated buck’s vitals and its heart beating through its exposed ribs. He began moving toward me with slow, intentional steps, never breaking eye contact.
I couldn’t shoot; I couldn’t move. I was frozen. All I could do was watch this evil Walking Dead deer menacing me. Moving closer, and closer, and closer . . .
My coffee cup hit the floor as I was jolted awake. Splattered coffee and candy corn littered the floor. Looking around wildly in a blurry-eyed panic, I peered out the window to see some does and a forky in the field.
“My God, that was the worst dream ever,” I said to myself out loud. Alright, it was time to make some magic happen and get rattling. Maybe throw out some doe bleats too and bring in a killer Halloween buck.
As I was getting ready to clank the rattling horns together, I looked up and gulped. But the lump in my throat wouldn’t go away and my blood ran cold. There he stood shrouded in the early morning mist, with just his head and front right shoulder exposed.