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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

You Will Know It When You See It

Last month, after describing my morning and showing my hunting buddies the sketches I’d done of the several Oklahoma bucks I’d seen (complete with nicknames), one friend asked why I hadn’t put an arrow through Diamond, a 3-year-old 5x5 whose rack might’ve hit the 135-inch mark.

He asked because he knows I’m not one to let a record-book buck keep on trucking, as a rule.

I thought about it for a couple of beats, and then I told them: “You know, I looked at that rascal inside 30 yards for more than 15 minutes, trying to decide if I wanted to take the chip shot. Then it occurred to me that if I had to study a deer for that long, it wasn’t a shooter. Whenever a real shooter walks up, you don’t have to think.”

That’s what happened to Mike Thompson of Rayville, La., last December. The minute he saw the 13-pointer charge onto the pipeline field and buzz every doe in sight, he didn’t have to think; he wanted it. But not so badly as to take an iffy shot at the deer on the fly.

He hadn’t been sitting in his 20-foot-tall box stand for long on Dec. 14, when 15 does -- a group of five and another of 10 -- filed or ran into the field. The buck was chasing the late arrivals. It never slowed, and it didn’t stay out there long, which meant there was no counting points, but Mike wanted it like a dying man wants religion.

The thing had brow tines that would make Dick Idol weep.

“I didn’t want to miss or wound a buck of that caliber and have it leave the area,” he said, “so I held fire and just watched it run off. That was a hard moment.”

[Read the rest of this article...]

Ninety-two Days Running

Scott Esker must really like long brow tines on whitetails.

The Ohio bowhunter has access to numerous properties, and he’s arrowed many fabulous bucks, one of which has graced the cover of Rack magazine. But he pretty much abandoned his many honey holes in 2010 to spend all his time on a new piece of ground where he’d seen a deer with exceptional eye guards.

While driving home from work on June 28, he passed three deer well out in a soybean field. Although he couldn’t see antlers from that distance, one of the animals seemed much bigger than the others.

Curious, he turned around, stopped and peered at them through a spotting scope. The largest was a 5x5 with 10-inch brow tines -- with two more months to pack on even more antler!

Scott wound up Googling the property in Licking County, and he knocked on a couple of doors and gained permission to hunt it. He set up a trail camera, mineral lick and spread some corn in short order. Five days later, he retrieved more than 3,000 photographs, 150 of the brow-tine buck.

Whenever the wind allowed, he hunted there from Sept. 25 until Jan. 4, when his longest season ever ended.

[Read the rest of this article...]

On the Road Again

Gene Daniels might be on the road to becoming as superstitious as Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who ate chicken before every game.

Like Boggs, the Harriman, Tenn., deer hunter believes in lucky charms. And he seems to have found his on the road, or at least standing beside it.

Gene was 16 years old when his Papaw Kelly took him deer hunting for the first time. While driving through Oak Ridge, Tenn., the night before that maiden trip, Gene saw a monstrous buck standing beside the road.

He was still excited when he got to his papaw’s house, and he told him about the whitetail.

“Sounds like you seen a deer of a lifetime,” the old man smiled.

Gene didn’t sleep a lick that night.

The following morning, about half an hour after his papaw left him holding his dad’s .30-30, Gene shot an 8-pointer.

Despite his seamless introduction to deer hunting, another 10 years passed before Gene was able to shoot another good buck.

Once again, he’d driven through Oak Ridge and seen a huge buck standing on the road’s shoulder. He couldn’t hunt until the following day and didn’t have access to the land where he saw the deer, but he shot a nice 9-pointer the next morning.

It took several more seasons for him to shoot another one, and it, too, came on the day following a nighttime spotting of a buck rooted beside the pavement.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Don't Bet Against This Guy

His confidence buoyed by floodwaters pushing deer onto his side of the levee and the discovery of several great sheds in the little 40-acre pasture he hunts, Tom Ross decided to push all his chips to the center of deer hunting’s poker table in 2010.

He’s never walked the 560 yards from his front door to his ladder stand more often than he did last year, starting with the opening of Arkansas’ bow season and ending on the rainy day he almost folded his cards.

“I found 11 sheds in that little field the previous spring,” Tom said. “Several were impressive, but one antler was really outstanding.”

To sweeten the pot, the nearby White and Mississippi rivers flooded that fall, and Tom knew his chances at a decent buck -- maybe even the former wearer of that big shed -- would never be better.

“I hunted hard during bow season, when the floodwaters were at their peak,” he said. “I went 16 days straight and saw plenty of deer, including this buck, but it was too far.”

When the gun season opened, Tom kept hunting from his bow setup, at least whenever the wind allowed. But the big buck he’d seen early never showed.

After a week of hunting every day, Tom was growing tired of the game.

“I’d burnt my entire season waiting on that buck,” he said. “I was ready to sell my guns and quit. I had nothing to show for a whole lot of work.”

[Read the rest of this article...]

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