Listen to mama, and always go with the hot doe.
While scouting during the spring and summer of 2011, I got several glimpses of an awesome buck.
He looked very promising on the three sets of trail camera pictures I had. I was never able to get a really good picture, but he kept getting bigger every time I saw him.
When archery season finally arrived, I hunted that buck hard. I wasn’t getting new trail camera pictures, and I had yet to see him while in a stand. There was little evidence he was still in the area, other than some massive tracks and a few unfortunate trees that crossed his path.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, I moved to a different property to give my regular area a rest. Seated in my stand, I got a call from my friend, Joe. He said he saw a hot doe being chased by two small bucks in the bruiser’s territory.
At home for lunch, I was debating where to go for the evening hunt when my wife, Julie, made up my mind. She told me there was no choice. I had to go with the hot doe.
I headed to a stand near where I believed the big buck bedded during the day. Like Julie said, a hot doe was the one thing that could cause this smart old buck to make a mistake.
An hour prior to sundown, I began to hear deer get up from their beds. Shortly after, I heard some thrashing before a doe ran right under my treestand. A half-racked 8-pointer was right on her heels, grunting all the while.
Just when I thought the action was over, I heard four deep tending grunts and caught a brief glimpse of a rack. Even though I figured it was probably one of the younger bucks I had been seeing, I picked up my bow and got ready.
After what seemed like an eternity, I saw some does moving around in the thick stuff. Then I heard another set of deep grunts as I spotted a buck.
He was running on a trail that would eventually yield an ideal shot opportunity, if I could get him to stop. I finally saw the frame of the rack, and my heart rate picked up when I realized it was the big buck.
I immediately took my eyes off the rack and focused on the next 10 seconds that would make or break my season.
The buck stopped at 17 yards quartering toward me with his head behind a tree. Judging by his stance and posture, and assuming he would want to get back on the trail of that hot doe, I made a pretty solid guess about his next move.
I drew my bow and took a deep breath as he took the next five steps into my shooting lane. When he got into the opening, I shot.
I saw what I hoped to see: an impressive rack above a body in an all-out, close-to-the-ground, tail-down run. Next I heard some splashing in the swamp, followed by a crash.
Meanwhile, two more does ran through. After that, the only thing I heard was the pounding of my heart.
I called Julie and a few friends to tell them what happened, but with sunlight fading, it was time to look for my arrow.
While I didn’t find it, there were other clues that indicated a solid hit. Even though I heard a crash and felt good about the shot, I decided to play it safe, back out and wait a few hours.
Later, my good friend Scott and his wife came over, and we headed out.
Our intention was to stay on the blood trail as long as it was clear and easy to follow. If things got tough, we agreed it would be better to back out again and wait until morning.
I never dreamed it would get so tough so quickly.
We were finding very little blood, and the trail was leading us into a swamp. I began to panic and was very close to making the call to back out.
Scott then called out to me that he had found more blood. When I got to his location, he asked me to put out my right hand. As I extended it without really knowing why, he grabbed my hand and shook it while pointing the light to the buck. He had gone just 70 yards from where I shot him, and he fell exactly where I had heard the crash.
The buck was wide, had unbelievable mass and triple brow tines on both sides. We went crazy with high-fives, phone calls and pictures.
He ended up scoring 183 inches, even after losing about 4 1/2 inches where blow flies had laid eggs in the tip of his right main beam, causing a unique crater.
I am blessed to have a supportive and wise spouse, a father who introduced me to hunting, a great family and the best friends.
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This article was published in the November 2012 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.