In November 1997, a bowhunter from the Ontario’s Ottawa Valley arrowed two trophy whitetail bucks — a week apart — from the same stand. It was a hunting season for the books! Steve Sybrandy has been hunting since the age of 10 and has taken several decent deer over the years. The infamous fall of ’97 will live in his mind and heart forever. And if you ask Steve, he credits his old homemade tree stand, not his prowess as a bowhunter, with the two exceptional bucks.
1997 Whitetail Bow Season
Steve decided to hang his “lucky” stand near a natural crossing where there was a break in a fence, along a heavily used corridor for deer seeking food in an adjacent agricultural field. From 17 feet up in a spruce tree, the hunter had a great vantage point. He cleared out a few small shooting lanes before the season started, but he left most of the growth intact to keep the area looking mostly undisturbed. “I’m no competition bow shooter,” he confessed. “I kept the distance in mind when I constructed my stand location and cut shooting lanes.” In other words, the stand was geared toward a maximum 30-yard shot.
His First Book Buck
When Steve arrived at his stand on November 1, he was running behind schedule, but a work commitment forced him to hunt afternoons. Before climbing into his stand, he placed a jar of Tink’s Trophy Buck lure on the ground in front of the tree. Afterward, when he was settled in, he checked his watch. It was 3 p.m. “The deer should start moving soon.” he thought.
Steve sprayed himself with cover scent and hung his bow on a branch. He was anticipating an enjoyable afternoon of watching and waiting. He made a series of calls, although he had not had much luck calling in the past. A short time later, Steve was startled by the sound of a deer heading in his direction. Before he was able to retrieve his bow from the limb, a buck sauntered into a small clearing 30 yards away, glaring in his direction. Except for a few heart palpitations that, luckily, the big buck could not hear, Steve did not move a muscle.
As the big buck slowly moved behind the stand and into some softwood brush, Steve knew this was the one he had been looking for. With the buck hidden by some branches, the hunter slowly removed his bow from its resting place and readied himself for a shot, if one presented itself. The buck finally ambled out of the cedars and stood only 20 yards away with his nose down. Steve knew the buck had detected his buck lure.
The whitetail continued moving below his tree now only 10 yards out, but Steve still did not draw because he thought the deer might notice the movement. “Time is running out.” he thought to himself. The buck then travelled around the stand and toward the cedars again. This time, however, the deer stopped and stuck his nose directly into the jar of Tink’s!
After what seemed liked an eternity, the buck lowered his head and the hunter was finally able to draw his bow. At 15 yards, Steve released an arrow for a perfect heart/lung shot. The arrow passed cleanly through the animal and into the ground behind. Textbook shot!
After a nervous 20-minute wait, Steve started tracking his trophy. A good blood trail led the hunter to his deer a mere 60 yards from where he’d been hit. With his heart pounding, the hunter could not believe the events that had just transpired and the beautiful buck lying before him. It was a perfect 10-pointer, the best deer he had ever taken with his bow!
Lightning Strikes Twice
One week later with the rut now in full swing, Steve returned to his lucky stand with hopes of another exciting day. After meeting with his hunting buddies and making plans for the afternoon hunt, Steve was told by his partners the new rules they had drafted for him. “You better not shoot any deer smaller than your first buck, today!” they proclaimed, (somewhat) tongue in cheek.
As the guys headed off to their stands and Steve made his way to his, he could not help but think of what his partners said. Before climbing into position, he placed a jar of famous Tinks #69 doe-in-rut buck lure on the ground where he had the Trophy buck lure a week earlier. Steve was hoping that a love-crazed buck might respond!
A fresh blanket of snow had fallen the night before, covering the entire forest. Steve was already soaked to the bone, but he tried to make himself comfortable in the now chilly stand. An hour into his hunt, a small spike buck came in for a visit and passed within 30 yards. Remembering what his buddies said, he watched the buck pass and sat back for the wait.
A covey of partridge playing in a softwood tree had Steve’s attention, and he did not notice a big buck walk in on his tracks and stand only seven yards away! When he finally did notice, he thought: “I can’t believe the size of this deer!” It was an awesome 8-pointer this time, with a huge body and neck. Steve froze as the heart palpitations set-in again!
The monster began creeping around scent-checking the area, evidently in search of a receptive doe he’d detected. The buck swung his head away from Steve on his way to the Tink’s bottle, allowing enough time to quickly draw and release from only 6 yards. The deer bolted upon impact! With darkness fast approaching, Steve came out of his stand to track the deer before his usual 20-minute wait.
He quickly discovered signs of a good hit and began tracking the blood. Steve found his prize 150 yards later. He was awestruck by the deer’s size. This buck was a fabulous looking 9-pointer with a huge body and rut-swollen neck. “I hope the boys are not upset with me,” Steve thought. Finally, he realized how big his second buck really was. “What am I saying?” he thought again. “This is a heck of a nice animal!” Steve then sprinted off to fetch his fellow hunters. He needed assistance in dragging the 230-pound (field-dressed) monster out of the woods.
Steve Sybrandy returned to his favourite stand again the following season with hopes of history repeating itself. Sadly, it never did. “Guess my stand is not as lucky as I thought it was,” he lamented. In the end, lightning stuck twice in the same place in 1997, a deer season Steve Sybrandy would not soon forget!
Enjoy whitetail adventure stories? Check-out this awesome tale from my own Outdoors Guy hunting collection!