For opening day of rifle season the AAH team wanted to do something different. For the first part of this hunting season, they mostly stuck to their private land spots (one in Rockbridge and two spots in Augusta). But for rifle season they get to branch out a bit since the weapons are a little lighter to carry on a trek.
When Kyle first moved to Staunton, he was introduced Little North, a mountain on the edge of the George Washington National Forest. For the past four years Kyle has really committed a lot of time out of season to hiking that mountain, hanging tree stands, and knowing the movement of the deer population. So for opening day of rifle the team knew that’s where they were headed. What also made the weekend special was a good friend from school of Hunter’s tagging along. Like Hunter, Cam found himself without land to explore once he got to college, and the Average American Hunters are always happy to welcome a friend trying to scratch that itch.
The boys got up early and were out the door by 4 AM to get to and up the mountain before the sun was up and the deer were moving. It was a beautiful, clear day and it got Hunter his first public land buck. I’ll let him tell you all about the memorable morning;
“The Saturday hunt with Kyle and Cam was definitely one I’ll never forget. It was Cam’s first time ever hunting in the mountains, so Kyle and I sat him in a spot on the lower side of the mountain since we had seen some signs there of activity. When Kyle and I got to the top we split up, and I started on my way to my spot. I had to stop short because I was exhausted from the hike and I was running out of darkness. I sat down about 1000+ yards from where I wanted to go so that I wouldn’t be moving after sunrise.
I finally saw some movement around 9:00 and decided to move further up toward the point. I radioed Kyle to let him know I was moving further up. When I got to the hollow I wanted, I settled in had some lunch, and took a nap on the ground. I woke up around 10:50 to two deer; I saw one down in the bottom of the hollow and heard something jump down from the rocks off to my right. It was a doe, only 30 yards from me. Although the doe was a little closer, when the one in the bottom came out from behind a tree, I saw his horns, and instantly felt a rush of adrenaline. My heart was racing and I was still laying on the ground. I eased up with my gun in hand and swung my video camera to my right side to try to capture the buck before I took a shot. The doe started blowing and stomping at me before she took off up the other side of the hollow, he trotted to follow her. I zoomed my camera in the best I could because he was getting out of there. Luckily, he stopped in a hole and I busted him free-handed at 100 yards down in the hollow. His head went to the ground as he was running up the hill, but then he turned and went straight over a rock face downhill on the opposite side of the mountain.
I was able to pick up the blood trail and tracked him about 150 yards. It took me about four hours to handle that big bodied deer; camping him out and getting all the meat. I was so exhausted after hiking back up the hill with 150+ pounds on my back that I didn’t think I would make it. Luckily, Kyle made it down to me around 4:15 and took over carrying the deer up the hill the rest of the way.
We finally made it back to a frozen Cam. He was excited for me and even more excited we finally got to start walking and get warm! All in all, the three of us had a great time. If it wasn’t for my cousin getting our butts up there, I never would have gotten the opportunity at this mature, public-land, mountain buck. He saved my butt getting the pack out of the hollow and I don’t know if I would have made it out by myself.
After we got to the truck Cam said he had a great time sitting on top of that mountain. He can’t wait to go back out with the AAH team. The mountains are a special place and everyone should get to experience that hike and that style of hunting at least once. It’s honestly a life changing hunt.”