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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for August 2011

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Grin and Deer It

Ryan Bearden was disgusted and ready to go someplace else, maybe even back to his warm motel room.

Though 2010 was the Alabamian’s third year to drive to Ohio, he’d hunted this Highland County farm only once before that cold Dec. 18. All he really knew about the place was that 40 of the 200 or so acres were wooded.

When he struck out that 18-degree morning, he skirted a cornfield – plodding through 6 to 8 inches of snow -- and walked 20 yards into the adjoining woodlot. He jacked himself up a tree, sat down and watched the paint dry on a winter landscape devoid of color and deer, painfully aware that the wind was carrying his scent straight into the property’s only cover.

The 24-year-old had been fighting the urge to relocate for half an hour when, at 9:00, he spotted two bucks running along the edge of the field. Both were 8-pointers, and he was about to shoot the larger when he saw a third buck coming down the same lane.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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...]

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