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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

When Fauna Fights Flora

Pheromones and estrous doe scents might be akin to Cupid's arrow, but whatever Pat Bates pours on bushes is more like Thor's hammer.

One whiff of the concoction will turn bucks into white-eyed defoliators, or, if they're big and stupid enough to do battle with flora in front of Pat, into wall art.

The former firefighter from Alberta decided a long time ago that if he wanted to be as successful in the deer woods as his brother is, and if he wanted to put a tag on a record book buck, he'd better not rely on luck. That's why, since his retirement in 2007, he spends at least eight of every 10 days afield each season. It's why he began playing around with the potion he calls his "buckstuff."

It's also how he one-upped Mike Bates in 2010.

He went to his brother's place on Nov. 25, their father's 89th birthday. While the patriarch hunted with Mike that morning, Pat struck out on his own, hoping to connect with a huge buck that had bewitched and eluded his sibling for a couple of years.

"The directions Mike gave me were very specific," Pat said. "And while I didn't see the big fella, I saw a lot of sign. I also put some buckstuff on a tree with a huge scrape nearby, and then I went back to Mike's for lunch."

Upon his return, he saw his father's birthday present.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Nicked Brow a Small Price to Pay

Casey Orr didn’t look for a blood trail because his deer fought off gravity for only 30 yards. Had he searched, however, he might’ve found two of them – one leading to the outlandishly palmated whitetail, the other back to the homemade ground blind where the 24-year-old had been sitting for an hour and a half.

Casey doesn’t remember being smacked in the brow by his .444 Marlin’s scope, probably because the buck of his dreams had strolled within 20 yards of his hiding place along the Choctaw County, Miss., power line. But when he saw that he’d actually shot the “freak” over which he’d obsessed since 2009, he was punch-drunk.

“I can't explain the feeling of joy that overcame me,” said the assistant baseball coach for Starkville Academy. “I ran right up to the deer and just started dancing and yelling. Had anyone seen me, they would’ve thought I was crazy!”

It had been a long 17 months since Casey first laid eyes on the buck in August 2009, when he’d driven to the family farm to watch for deer crossing a power line that cut through a pine plantation. Understandably, after seeing that gnarly rack, the hunter from Ackerman, Miss., considered it Priority One.

But almost a year passed before he saw it in the flesh again, also during the summer. He and a fishing buddy jumped it en route to a pond.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Cellular Bells

The chirp of Steve Shorter’s cell phone was as welcomed as an ill-timed cough on the golf course green. That the man from Winimac, Ind., managed to sink the putt – or rather drop the buck – on Nov. 13 was nothing short of a miracle.

“I’d seen this deer during the bow season, but it was 80 yards away,” said Steve, whose family has put some impressive Pulaski County whitetails in our record book.

Steve found the perfect spot for his climbing stand a couple days before the 2010 firearms season, and he was in that tree when the opening bell rang.

A doe came through about 7:30, followed by the buck he’d seen during archery season – this time just 40 yards away. Its rack was easy to recognize because of the forked tine on the right side.

As Steve tried to acquire the animal in his muzzleloader’s scope, he bumped the butt of the gun against the cell phone in his pocket, turning it on and causing it to emit its usually not-so-horrifying melody. What are the odds of that happening?

“That wasn’t what I wanted to hear right then,” Steve admitted.

Fortunately for the hunter, the buck was in the clear when it turned to leave.

“When the smoke cleared, there he laid ... graveyard dead,” he said.

Steve sat in the stand for about two more hours, watching the deer, savoring the moment, and hoping his father, Jim, and 16-year-old son, Trent, were enjoying their morning in a buddy stand. Trent wasn’t hunting; he was there to give moral support. He’d arrowed his buck during the archery season.

Turns out, the eldest Shorter did indeed shoot an 8-pointer.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Just When You Think It's a Waste of Time

While a lot of deer hunters find sleep difficult on the eve of opening day, Bob Richardson made no effort to get out of bed when the alarm clock sounded. He might've remained there, too, had his wife, Melody, not rousted him.

"Your alarm went off," she mumbled.

"Yes, I know," he said, eyes still shut.

"Aren't you going hunting?"

"There's probably no point."

It wasn't that the 55-year-old preacher needed the sleep. He was just weary of climbing into his favorite ladder stand and seeing nothing.

That hadn't been the case during the early days in 2010, but during the 14 days leading up to Illinois' first shotgun season, he'd seen not a hair. He was thinking about all those wasted hours when his wife's voice again drifted over the bedcovers.

"So there was a point to buying all those deer tags and equipment?"

He got up out of bed.

Bob's favorite ladder stand was on 65 acres managed by a friend, who'd invited him to hunt. Daylight was breaking by the time he reached the farm, so rather than walk to the ladder, he decided to remain on the ground and watch a mown swath of CRP.

About 6:45, a doe and a huge buck ran across it at 200 yards, heading for the adjacent cornfield. Not content to wait and hope they'd come back, Bob snuck close enough to see into the field.

When he eased up like a cheetah in tall grass, he saw a doe, a tall-racked 8-pointer and a couple of small bucks. There was no sign of the mature stud he'd seen chasing a doe, at first. But then he saw a deer's back just beyond the field's crown, and when it lifted its head, Bob's eyes grew big as boiled eggs.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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