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D Hunter
Don Hunter • 11/18/2012 Putnam County , MO • Rifle

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Christopher Wilkinson
Christopher Wilkinson • Edgewater , MD

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

In Praise of Point-and-Shoots

Greg Deckling, like most bowhunters, realizes the importance of practice. If you can't launch at least a few arrows prior to opening day, there's really no point in going.

Even if the sights are dead-on, it takes a little conditioning to be able to draw and hold a compound bow.

The college junior has no place on campus to shoot his bow. But because he lives in Ohio, where crossbows and red-dot sights aren't restricted to the aged and infirm, the lack of practice didn't keep him out of the woods when the season opened last year.

So they'd be able to hunt together, Bill Deckling offered to let his son use a crossbow that had belonged to a friend who'd lost his battle with lung cancer the previous December.

Even so, Greg missed the morning hunt because he'd forgotten to buy his deer tag. It was a major bummer, too, because he was excited at the prospect of encountering one of the several nice bucks his father had been monitoring to that point.

Later in the day, with a fresh license in his wallet, Greg climbed into a stand about 100 yards from his father's.

"About 6:40, I heard what sounded like a deer running through the cornfield behind my stand," he said. "I didn't see anything, at first. I was wondering what the noise had been and where the deer, if it was a deer, had gone.

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Rattling, Hard and Loud, Lures Monster within Bow Range

After what happened to Joe Godar on Nov. 9, 2012, it's a pretty safe bet that the Ohio bowhunter will feel naked if he climbs another tree without some kind of rattling antlers.

He and a friend were hunting his property in Highland County that day, the first of three they managed to steal away from their jobs. Although the weather forecast wasn't exactly optimal, they set out to hunt from daylight 'til dark.

About 12:30, Joe ate the lunch he'd packed and shrugged out of a layer of clothes. Before resuming his vigil, he decided to try some aggressive rattling.

"When I sat down and glanced to my left, I saw a buck - a shooter - at 75 yards," he said. "Surprisingly, I did not panic. I didn't really have to deal with buck fever. I just knew and accepted that, for once, I was in the right place at the right time, and it was no time to make a mistake."

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Where There's a Will

Like the frog that refuses to let go and be swallowed by a heron, 41-year-old Mike Miller of Marion, Ark., will not go gently into that abyss known as self pity.

He'd rather count points than woes.Before a stem cell transplant from his twin brother, Mark, finally pinned it to the mat, Mike wrestled with leukemia for 18 months. During that time, in 2002 and 2003, the prognosis changed almost weekly.

He wound up beating the cancer, but chemotherapy and radiation treatments left him almost unable to get up and move. Whenever he does, he's rendered almost breathless. And his long-distance vision is impaired.

But he considers himself lucky, since doctors originally predicted he'd not be able to walk.Any one of Mike's myriad ailments would be a perfectly acceptable excuse to quit hunting. But he won't. Friends, family and trading his compound for a crossbow have allowed him to keep at it.

Mike was thrilled in 2012, when his trail camera yielded photographs a nocturnal Cross County buck he and his brother had been hoping to tag for a couple of seasons.

The first chance he got to sit over the food plot - the first time there was a favorable wind – was on Oct. 6. But that hunt was a bust.

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Trail Camera as Zoloft Dispenser?

Scott Rawlings thought he'd never best the 173-inch drop-tined buck he arrowed in 2011.

But that was before the bowhunter from Chillicothe, Ohio, checked a trail camera three weeks into October, 2012. The photograph he retrieved put a spring back in his step.

"By the end of September, I had not gotten a single picture of a buck on my Wildgame Innovations camera," he said. "I was worried that (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) had hit my area and killed all the mature deer."

The only reason Scott didn't panic was because he hadn't stumbled across any dead ones.

Keeping upbeat wasn't easy, however. Although he spent many hours in stands the first three weeks of October, he saw very few deer, and none of them bucks, not even little ones.

The best possible antidepressant was the photo he pulled on Oct. 25. And wouldn't you know it: His vacation was scheduled to begin the following week.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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