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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

There's No Place Like Home

It’s been said that the two happiest days in a fisherman’s life are when he buys a boat and when he sells it. Might the same be true for hunters and land?

Prior to a rainy Nov. 28, 2011, Eric Williams could’ve believed it.

He and his wife, Angela, fled the cramped suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, in May 2010 to homestead 17 acres in Warren County. At the time, Eric had every intention of playing hard in his new back yard, but that didn’t happen.

“With Angela and me both working, and three boys who seem to be into every imaginable sport, I was just strapped for time,” he said.

Eric strolled the property a few times in 2010 and saw plenty of deer sign. He and his sons even erected a double ladder stand, but it sat vacant the entire season.

The first time anyone sat in the stand was in 2011, when Eric allowed his oldest boy, Tanner, to hunt alone for the first time. The kid wound up shooting his first antlered deer. Dad was thrilled, but even that didn’t inspire him to suit up in camo.

Inspiration came when he and a friend (who ribbed him mercilessly) rabbit-hunted the property and saw lots of buck sign.

“You could smell, see and feel the presence of a dominant buck,” Eric said.

On Nov. 28, opening day of gun season, Eric woke up at 5 a.m., stood on the front porch and listened to the rain. He wouldn’t normally venture afield on a day like that. But he was itching to go, and he’s glad he did.

“I saw deer everywhere,” he said. “That was the first time anyone had sat in the stand in the morning, and it was amazing, except for the weather.”

After breaking for lunch and doing a few chores around the house, he returned to the woods in dry clothes. He hung a few fragrant wicks, sprayed himself with scent killer and used his grunt and bleat calls. Less than an hour later, he smoked what he thought was a 150-inch 8-pointer.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Beats a Lemonade Stand

Seven-year-old Ethan Dorff of Carlyle, Ill., might well be the country's next millionaire -- in $5 increments -- if he can get a patent on the bottle-less buck lure he invented last fall.

Prior to the 2011 hunting season, Ethan accompanied his father, Doug, to the woods to hang a new stand about 100 yards from where Doug spotted a monstrous whitetail two years earlier. While Doug wrestled the stand onto a tree, Ethan built a teepee of sticks nearby.

"I told him that teepee was going to ruin the deer hunting," Doug said, fully intending to scatter the sticks before they left. Before he could do it, however, his wife, Joni, called and scattered his intentions.

"I ended up leaving the teepee there," he added.

The first day Doug bowhunted from the new stand, a doe walked right up to the teepee and stuck her head into it. Before that, he'd been prepared to kick it down when he left. But he wound up shooting her and leaving Ethan's deer attractor intact.

Later in the archery season, any plan of removing the teepee was forever forgotten.

"I was back in the same stand, watching a doe, and she turned and looked behind her," Doug said. "I looked, too, and saw a tree moving. A 10-pointer was rubbing it."

The buck abandoned the rub and hurried through the area, moving too quickly for Doug to get off a shot through the timber ... that is, until the buck stopped and took a long, hard look at the teepee.

"If it hadn't stopped to stare at the teepee, I wouldn't have gotten a shot," Doug said. "I guess it's true that deer really are curious."

Doug was back in that stand when the shotgun season opened on Nov. 18.

[Read the rest of this article...]

A Rose by Any Other Name

How can a deer be touted as a world-record 8-pointer when it has nine points?

Well, it can't, at least by Buckmasters' yardstick.

With the Boone and Crockett Club, such a rack -- a 4x4 with a small, but measurable kicker off the right G2 -- is scored as a hypothetical 8-pointer. The ninth point is declared abnormal and becomes a deduction. Yet even with the penalty, the Illinois buck shot last December by Jason Sanders is considered by B&C as the top-scoring 8-pointer in their records.

The gorgeous buck is NOT the world-record 4x4 within the BTR. Just as sweet, however, it's king of the hill among 9-pointers.

I very seriously doubt that Jason minds the distinction. He put his tag on the buck on Dec. 1, opening day of Illinois' second shotgun season.

After watching the sunrise from his 15-foot-high ladder stand in Logan County, Jason tried grunting at 7:30. The buck that responded had a very familiar face.

The 38-year-old farmer-hunter got the first of four trail camera photos of the buck in October. It was a nighttime shot that didn't reveal the rack's true size. The rest were taken in November. He'd strapped his Wildgame Innovations camera to a tree on the family's 500-acre farm at the end of September, and this buck was, by far, the largest of many photographed.

Jason set up a ladder stand near the crossing in front of the camera. Because he doesn't bowhunt, he has only seven (shotgun) days a year to hunt.

"Fall is a busy time of year for me," he said. "But I always make time for the shotgun season."

[Read the rest of this article...]

North Dakota's New No. 1 Typical

Young Seth Bisbee began North Dakota's 2011 season with a full tank of anticipation, fueled by trail camera photographs of a huge Benson County 5x5 that had not only survived the previous winter, but also was considerably larger for having done so.

Seth was in a blind on Sept. 6 when the buck with the familiar rack came strolling in at prime time. Because dusk was fast approaching and the deer wouldn't turn, he chose to take the only shot he had, which was at the animal's chest.

In order to shoot, Seth had to draw and lean into the blind's window. And when he did, he and the buck locked gazes. A split-second later, it was gone.

"I thought I'd blown my only chance," Seth said. "I wanted to give up hunting."

He didn't, of course. He was back inside the same blind the next day, since there was no school.

About 7:45 p.m., the No. 2 deer on the family's hit list -- a 6x6 still in velvet -- appeared in front of Seth.

"I tried extremely hard to remain calm, and I did a good job of that," he said. "I drew back, leaned in and tripped my release. The arrow sailed right over its back."

The kid, convinced he'd better find another, easier pastime, almost left for home right then. He was still thinking about it 10 minutes later, when he spotted two more deer approaching.

"It was THE big one and its buddy, a smaller 5x5. I couldn't believe it!" he said.

Just like the first time, the buck was facing Seth. Unlike the first time, it didn't see the bowhunter lean into the shooting window. As soon as it raised its head, offering a clear shot to its chest, the young bowhunter tripped his release.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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