Anything that could have gone wrong, went wrong … ALMOST.
Jeff Gordon of Montpelier, Ind., would have been satisfied with a beautiful 9-pointer that was roaming the area. But after checking his trail camera in early September 2009, he thought otherwise.
“I played back the video and saw a giant on there,” Jeff said. “The buck was huge! I showed the footage to my wife, and we both couldn’t believe it. She told me I’d better get it.”
Jeff doesn’t have to travel far to hunt. His favorite seven acres is right outside his back door, and he wouldn’t trade this honey hole for the world.
“It’s a great piece of property. The woodlot is surrounded by cropland, and that’s where I usually fill my deer tag,” he said.
Jeff took a vacation day on Oct. 30. The morning rain held off long enough for him to climb into and sit comfortably in his treestand. An hour after a beautiful 9-pointer tempted him, he saw what had to be the giant he’d been dreaming about for nearly two months.
“I saw a huge buck about 400 yards out in an open field, and it was heading my way,” Jeff said. “I couldn’t take my eyes off it, especially the left side of its rack.”
The whitetail looked familiar. It had to be the same one with which he’d been obsessed since seeing it on film. But he hadn’t noticed the drop tines that now were so clearly evident.
The buck kept coming, too. And by the time it ceased walking, not quite broadside to Jeff at 20 yards, the human Jell-O mold was as ready as possible.
“I was at full draw when the buck stopped. Although the lane was clear, I was hoping for a better angle,” Jeff said. “The arrow flew right over its back.”
Heartbroken, Jeff watched the unscathed buck run into the picked bean field. Shortly afterward, the disappointed hunter walked back to his house.
When he returned to his stand around 3 p.m., the wind had kicked up and rain was on its way. Believing he’d blown his one chance at the giant buck, Jeff was ready to settle for the first decent one that presented a shot.
“I kept replaying the morning’s hunt over and over,” he said. “I was trying to convince myself there were other bucks in the area I’d be happy to harvest.”
As Jeff’s vacation day was coming to a close, he continued scanning the darkening woods for any sign of life. At 5:30, his eyes came to rest on something odd.
“I turned and saw what I thought was a bundle of cornstalks in the middle of the woods,” he said. “But then the stalks morphed into antler as the corn started moving. It was the giant buck I’d missed earlier!
“The buck was trailing a doe, and they were moving toward a shooting lane,” he continued. “I drew my bow as the doe walked through my lane, but I suffered a major malfunction. My peep sight broke and smacked me in the face.”
While Jeff was trying to fix his peep, the buck followed the doe away from him. Fortunately, the hunter kept at it, even though his opportunity had passed.
“The doe and her suitor returned a few minutes later, and, this time, they were five yards closer to me,” Jeff said. “I focused again on drawing the bow, but the peep sight twisted.”
Once again, the two deer walked out of range toward the nearby cornfield, leaving Jeff cursing his luck and his equipment. He even vowed to buy a new bow.
But the story doesn’t end with a sad bowhunter sitting on his soon-to-be-lighter wallet.
“I kept looking out in the cornfield, and then I noticed the doe running back toward me. The buck was right behind her, too. She eventually passed within five yards of my tree. That time, nothing went wrong.”
The heart-shot buck tipped over within sight of Jeff’s shaking stand.
Hunter: Jeff Gordon
Official Score: 202 7/8
Composite Score: 221
– Photos courtesy of Jeff Gordon
This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.