If I wait more than four days to pull the memory card from my backyard trail camera during the redwing blackbird migration, I’ll have to sift between 3,000 and 4,000 mostly identical images.
The numbers are so overwhelming that I wind up trashing far more than I keep.
Cameran Derefield is not as easily overwhelmed. The 27-year-old electrical worker from Amanda, Ohio, does not mind looking at photo after photo, as long as they’re of deer.
Cameran amassed more than 4,500 images of the buck he shot in 2018, and that’s just counting the ones from April through the third day of his state’s shotgun season.
He retrieved the initial photo in 2015, when the deer was a 2-year-old 11-pointer. The next batch didn’t come until August 2017.
The then 4-year-old buck was wearing a rack that might’ve scored 150 inches. Its summertime running buddy was older, but its rack was smaller.
“Something about the larger buck’s rack triggered my memory, so I dug out those trail cam pictures I had from 2015,” Cameran told Ed Waite, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine.
The antlers were similar, as he suspected. And the additional growth was about right for a deer two years older. Good enough, he thought.
Cameran had a clear shot at the elder of the two bucks on opening day of archery season, but he held off because he wanted the other one. When both whitetails came out together nine days later, however, he decided to let the 4-year-old see another birthday and shot the one with the smaller rack. The following summer is when the buck began continuously stepping in front of the lens. Cameran collected hours of video footage of it as well. Its antlers had gained almost 40 additional inches.
Because at least six other hunters were gunning for the deer, four of whom had permission to hunt the same Fairfield County farm, Cameran decided he’d better pull out his seldom-used shotgun and affix a scope to it.
He’d put in too many hours to sit by and let others stage a man-drive and push the buck into a slug.
Cameran was late getting to the woods on the third cold and snowy morning of the firearms season. He had to babysit his daughter while his wife ran some errands. The delay worked to his advantage.
Forty-five minutes after settling in, he saw the familiar buck exit the nearby corn, snow on its back.
“I pulled my camera around, turned it on, and then reached for my shotgun. I shot a bit high, but the deer stumbled and fell,” he said.
Following a second boom when it regained its feet, the buck sped toward the cornfield, leaving red spots in its wake.
The 22-pointer has a BTR score of 189 3/8 inches.
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