My Biggest Harvest Yet
By: Jordan Watkins
It’s 4:30am on November 4, 2023. My alarm rings. Filled with excitement and anticipation, I easily wake. My brother-in-law and I head out, hoping to harvest my first buck during the rut.
We walk into the dense woods of Southern Maryland. I pick my spot. It’s set over a regularly hit communal scrape on a creek bottom between two shallow ridge systems. I climb and set up my tree saddle.
It’s 5:30am. Doe bedding to my front. Open hardwoods to my right. Conifers to my back. The heavy game trails to my left following along the creek bank is my target site.
A few hours after sunrise, a young spike appears roughly 70 yards from me. He scent-checks the air and makes a 180-degree turn to head back. I immediately lose hope. Concerned my scent is falling and sitting in my expected target zone. The winds were light, and my thermals weren’t helping. Regardless, I am determined to sit it out.
An hour later a button buck comes screaming off the top of the ridge system behind me; running as if he was bumped out of hiding. He looks back from where he came, browses around, and then his chaser appears. A large framed, six-point buck. He is huge!
As I watch the six-point rub on several trees, I start to hear a familiar sound to my right. I slowly turn and discover an eight-point buck approximately 55 yards from me and closing fast! I grab my bow, wait for him to cross behind a tree, and begin my draw sequence.
I set my anchor and watch him close in. His head is low, neck extended, wobbling his antlers side to side and forcefully trotting as he makes his way closer to my position. He makes it to the base of my tree and stops. His upper torso and vitals are blocked behind a tree to my left. I hold my anchor. As he takes two small steps backward, exposing his vitals, I take my shot. A clean pass through the near shoulder to the opposite side armpit; a double lung shot. He trots 30 yards toward the doe bedding, stops, and drops.
My name is Jordan Watkins. I am 35 years old and live in Calvert County, Maryland. I have been hunting for six years, but truly honed in on the craft over the last three. I primarily hunt the public wildlife areas of Region B. I use a Hoyt RX-1 Carbon Compound bow, 31.5 inch draw length, at a 70lb draw weight. I shoot Black Eagle Deep Impact arrows weighing 425 grains and cycle three different 100 grain broadheads: Annihlator XL, Magnus Black Hornet Ser-Razor 4-Blade, and QAD Exodus Full Blade.
I have come a long way from my upbringing on a half-acre just outside of Washington, D.C.—though that is where my passion for the outdoors began—fishing, snowboarding, hiking, sports, you name it. With each passing year, I added more outdoor hobbies to my lifestyle. Fast forward to 2017, one year into marriage, and my brother-in-law Matt introduced me to the outdoor hobby that quickly turned into my favorite.
I’ve hunted out of tree stands, and ground blinds, and participated in drives. I learned how to find and identify deer sign, make sense of the terrain, and pick trees to hunt from. As the years went on, I developed my own concepts and methods with the help of a few legends like Dan Inhalt, Andy May, and Josh Profit.
Though I may be biased, Maryland is one of my favorite places to hunt. From lowland swamps in the south to elevated ridge systems in the west and flat lands in the Eastern Shore, Maryland offers exceptional hunting opportunities with diverse environments in public wildlife management areas. The abundance of wildlife, including a large whitetail deer population allows hunters to develop versatile skills and overall makes Maryland hunters well-rounded.
I look forward to continuing to learn, explore, and harvest this amazing animal. I hope to one day pass this skill and ability down to my children. Teaching them, growing their confidence, and challenging them to become responsible and ethical whitetail hunters.
When you are ready for your next outdoor experience, be sure to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for information on rules/regulations and licenses before heading out to hunt. For information on Maryland’s Deer Hunting Trail, lodging options, hunting guides and outfitters, outdoor retailers and shooting ranges, visit the Planning Resources section on our website.
And if you’re looking to extend your trip, click here for travel deals in Maryland.