Second-year bowhunter learns what all the fuss is about!
Anthony Partington of DeGraff, Ohio, started hunting for squirrels and groundhogs with his grandfather when he was 12 or 13. It wasn’t long before he graduated to hunting big Ohio whitetails with a shotgun and, occasionally, a crossbow. As he grew older and married, family obligations and work took precedence over his love of hunting.
“I’ve taken several good bucks with a shotgun over the years, but there were some seasons when I really didn’t get to hunt much at all,” Anthony, now 31, says. “I work in construction, and several of the guys I work with are avid bowhunters.
“Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me, and they got me interested in bowhunting several seasons ago,” he added. “One of them bought a new bow, and he let me have his old one.
“I practiced a lot and hunted hard in 2008. I saw a bunch of bucks and lots of activity. I missed a shot at what would have been a 180-class deer if not for a broken beam,” Anthony said. “I actually watched it breed a doe, which was a first for me.
“I passed up a lot of bucks that season and, toward the end of the year, I still had an unpunched tag. My buddies had all scored. They were putting pressure on me to fill my tag as well. I finally shot a nice buck on New Year’s Day. It scored about 125 inches. I was very happy because that was my first bow buck,” he added.
The area where Anthony hunts in Logan County is comprised mostly of small woodlots surrounded by planted fields.
“One of the tracts I hunt is a 20-acre patch of woods,” Anthony said. “It’s a great corridor because the deer travel up and down a creek to reach a larger woodlot where they bed. In the late summer of 2009, the farmer who owns the property saw a huge buck there.
“My first hunt in 2009 was on the second morning of bow season,” he continued. “As I was driving into the area in the dark, I saw a nice buck standing near the farmer’s barn and house (probably the same deer the farmer had seen). The big deer immediately ran back toward the woodlot about a quarter-mile distant. I decided to back out and hunt another spot that day.
“I went back to hunt the woodlot the next morning with a Summit climber on my back. As I was walking in, I passed within 15 yards of a patch of high grass on the way to the tree where I planned to put my stand. The big buck was bedded in that grass with two others.
“After I walked by them, they jumped up and ran off. Once again, I decided not to hunt there. I didn’t go back for two weeks. I knew the buck I had seen was a nice one.”
Anthony’s day of reckoning came on Sunday morning, Oct. 18. He had been hunting the 20-acre woodlot for several seasons and knew the area well. A 2- to 3-acre triangle of grown-up weeds and briars was situated in the back corner of the woods. Several well-used trails intersected between that bedding area and a small lake.
Anthony had seen bucks using that crossing several times, and he chose to put his climber in a nearby tree that would give him a good view.
“I was running a little late that morning because I’d felt sick when I woke up,” Anthony said. “When I finally got my stand up the tree, dawn was breaking. Almost immediately, I saw a black spot about 300 yards out in a bean field and wondered if it was a deer.
“Eventually, I could tell it was a buck feeding slowly toward me. It didn’t have a very wide rack, and I couldn’t see the tines very well,” he said, “so I couldn’t tell how big it was. When it had covered half the distance between us, I thought it might angle around the pond and away from me.
“The wind was perfect, blowing from the deer to me, so I decided to make three soft grunts. That really got its attention. It immediately started walking straight to me. The buck turned its head at about 60 yards, and that’s when I got my first good look at its antlers. No doubt, it was a shooter.
“The buck came out of the beans and into the woods where I was waiting. It went behind a clump of small trees, and I came to full draw when it was at 25 yards. When it cleared the trees and stopped broadside, I released.
“The arrow made a funny sound, like it might have hit a limb,” he added. “The deer ran about 100 yards and stopped, and then it disappeared over a small hill.”
Anthony sat in his stand for two hours, wondering if he’d connected. The longer he sat, the worse he felt.
Finally, it was time to go and see. After locating part of his arrow and a sparse blood trail, he walked over the small hill where he had last seen the buck. There, a few yards ahead, lay a huge 6x6 — much bigger than he’d thought!
Hunter: Anthony Partington
Official Score: 179
Composite Score: 196 7/8
– Photos Courtesy of Rick Busse
This article was published in the October 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.