Oh man, I've had a great extended weekend of hunting. First of all, I've been very fortunate to have been extended some invitations to hunt private land of a couple of TN Deer members and have had a great season that has been way more relaxed and fun focused than my near 100% public land ventures since I started hunting.
Also, I haven't been singularly focused on a mature buck this and have enjoyed not beating my head against the wall. Furthermore, I'm going to be out of the country during the South West TN rut, so my primary goal was to fill the freezer.

Thursday night, I headed up to BuckWild's place in Madison county. Last time I was there I took a look at a ridge back in the woods and thought it was a great funnel so I set up there. Neither of us saw deer that night, but on a errand that night, we saw tons of deer in fields and even had a deer broadside Buck Wild's truck. We returned and ate stewed venison and cabbage (in venison stock) with some buttermilk cornbread.

Friday morning, I wasn't feeling it and had a hard time getting motivated. Right at shooting light, I see a buck facing me at 30 yards. Its fairly hazy out and my muzzleloader scope was a bit foggy so I couldn't not quite make him out, but he looked pretty full bodied. He stood there for a moment and then turned broadside, without thinking I took my shoot and heard him go down. An hour later, 7 does came moving through. I focused on one of the larger ones and shot her at 40 yards.

The buck turned out to be the first 2.5 year old I have killed since my first season hunting. I'm not making excuses or apologizing for that. BuckWild wasn't worried about it and neither was I. It was cool buck and he went down quick.

My doe managed to fall down a ravine:

Perfect shots, great blood, expedient deaths, and venison galore:

Friday afternoon, I drove back to Memphis, worked for a few hours and then went to a T-giving party. My plan for Saturday was to get up, hunt rifle opener in MS and then head up to a TN Deer lurker's place in Lauderdale county. Unfortunately, my ol' lady had a falt tire about 12:30 that night and I was summoned to reseolve the situation. As I went back to bed about 2 am, I nixed the Saturday morning hunt.

I slept until 9, got up, threw some groceries together for dinner and headed North with a pit stop at Andy S's favorite BBQ joint, Post Office BBQ in Atoka:

I wolfed my sandwich down, headed on North, threw a pot of my venison chili on and we headed out for a evening hunt. Last time I was there, I had scouted a great looking feature that sits on the corner of the property. It was risky being on the property line, but it looked like a great so I asked them to put a trail cam on it. As turns out, a scrappy headed 3.5 year old was using the funnel most every morning as well as some does and a 4 point. I put my rope on steps up on a tree for Sunday morning and headed over to hunt a field edge, which is something rarely, almost never do:

I didn't see any deer that night, but my buddy shot a doe. We got her loaded up and over to a processor where I saw this buck that I thought was exceptional:

On a side note. standing at a processor on opening day, something I've never really done, not a single deer brought in was gutted. I watched deer after deer pile up and none of them were gutted. I thought that was odd.

We returned, piled on some venison chili and crashed. This morning, I settled in early and waited for the sun to come up. A little after first light, I see a doe on the other side of the fence. Immediately, I see a BIG buck. I'm talking 140 inches of bone. He comes strolling through, stops broadside at 30 yards and stand still for 5 minutes. Biggest buck I've ever had a real opportunity with. Ethics....

I watched that buck for the next 20 minutes. He was standing next to the cedar tree in the pic:

He stood next to the cedar for another 20 mintes before the doe led him off. They did cross the line onto the property, but it was too thick to shot. Oh well. A couple of more bucks came through on the doe's trail including the 4 pt from the trail cam. About 8, the scrappy headed 3.5 shows up, comes right in at 20 yards and stops. Compared to the big buck I had seen, he looked like a 2.5 year old. I debated for a moment and then, without thinking, pulled the trigger. As this is my first season hunting with a rifle, this was my first rifle kill. Unfortunately, he fell over in a very deep, steep ravine with no easy way in or out.

Normally, I would have packed him out, but the other guys insisted upon helping, so we got him out with some effort.

So yeah, I'm good and loaded down with venison now, had a great weekend, drove around scenic West TN backroads, ate BBQ and venison, killed some deer, filled all of my coolers up.... you could spend a lot of money and not have that much fun.
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.