Between Austin Groff and myself, we hunt hard. There is no fancy way to dance around describing the gut wrenching grind of balancing college studies and deer hunting. Simply put, we lay it all on the line when the leaves change color. Over the past three years, Austin has had a majority of the punched tags between the two of us, which is completely fine with me. At the end of the day, we eat really well.
Austin seems to break every rule of deer hunting while I seem to follow all the prescribed rules. I use Scent Blocker, wash my clothing regularly, wear rubber boots and hunt from above. Austin, does not wash his clothing regularly, wears leather hiking boots and hunts on the ground, sometimes without a blind. Despite his seeming unorthodox methods, he has killed seven deer in the past two full seasons and what is not even a quarter of the 2013 season. Every time I get “that call” summoning me for a packing job, I still am in amazement at his abilities to get the job done through his unorthodox ways. No one can argue with a record like that.
Thursday, October 10, 2013 dawned at a stinging 38 degrees. After an actioned packed two hour set, I saw a total of 15 deer, mostly doe, skirt just out of bow range from my climber position. One freezer queen blindsided me appearing from the morning dew with such stealth, I did not see her until she stood at ten yards. How often does one guy go and see 15 deer and still not get one?
The fact was, I played the contour of the land wrong by setting up too far into a bench. Every deer filed from a drainage, slipped around the corner of the bench I was sitting on, dumping off into the brush just out of range. Determined to make things right, I made the adjustment for the evening hunt. However, due to the warm weather, I could hear bands of people shouting while hiking the trails above me, not to mention someone driving a golf cart up the hill. Not to mention my phone died. Shaking off the disappointment of having a ruined hunt I hiked out to the parking spot to find Austin.
Just as I left the darkened canopy of the trail, a dark figure was lying on the ground to the left.
Kicked back and relaxing, propped up on his backpack, his squeaky little voice told me something was up. Although I have only known him for a few years, I have learned enough about him to know, his voice only squeaks when he is excited.
Me: “Dude my phone died sorry, Did you see ann………” My voiced trailed off as I picked up on the unmistakable white under hair of a deer, dead beside him.
“NO WAY!” My heart jumped in unbelief and I immediately gave him the hunting buddy congratulations tackle.
Austin arrowed the 100 pound doe right after my phone died and as a result of someone driving a golf cart through the woods. He had been set up at the base of a tree next to a corn field with no blind. This deer is Austin’s seventh collegiate deer, Sixth freezer queen,sixth doe with a bow on the ground!
For all the nicknames we here at Houghton have given Austin Groff, I am giving him one more. Austin Groff truly is the King of Queens, and I know your Dad is smiling at this.
On an unrelated note, some exciting things have taken place in my life over the past few months which I will be sharing soon. Stay tuned.