Rack Magazine

Wake-up Call

Wake-up Call

By Ed Waite

It’s okay to sleep in a deer blind, just as long as you have an alarm clock who answers to “Dad.”

Macc McClain’s eyelids have never been as heavy as they were on Nov. 21, when he and his father, Norm, shared a makeshift blind on Aunt Marion’s Logan County farm. The 10th-grader found it difficult to keep his eyes open, which left Norm staring into the fog while his son did the Bobblehead thing.

It might’ve been the final day of Ohio’s 2010 youth season, Macc’s fourth or fifth, but the kid was too tired even to watch the several does in the distant bean field.

Norm had woken his son several times to point out new arrivals, but those lids slammed shut after only a few minutes.

It wasn’t as if they’d had to rise in the wee hours. The farm, Macc’s favorite place to hunt, was only 15 minutes from home. Father and son were out the door by 5 a.m., heading for a brush blind they’d built a few weeks earlier.

“The blind kind of wraps partway around a big tree that we can lean against,” Macc said. “We’d piled brush and stuff there to hide us. It was a really good spot because we were higher than the surrounding area and above the creek bottom.

“The creek and a partially wooded ravine were right in front of us. Beyond was a 300-yard-long bean field,” he continued. “We were high enough to see over most of the trees in the ravine. We also had an open field behind us that merited watching.”

Norm and Macc made their way to the blind by moonlight. The full moon was still a couple of days off, but it was bright enough so flashlights weren’t needed.

“We had barely gotten settled in when my son dozed off,” Norm said. “Not long afterward, a doe came walking along the creek — close, maybe 25 feet — totally unaware of our presence. I woke Macc so he could get a look at her.”

When dawn broke, Norm and Macc saw deer feeding out in the bean field. Every time Macc’s head lolled, his father nudged him.

“I was hoping we’d see the very big racked buck I knew was living close to Marion’s farm,” Norm said. “I had seen it while bowhunting, but it never presented more than a glimpse. Macc had never seen it, but he’d heard me talk about it.”

While Macc was dozing, Norm saw a pretty good sized deer moving across the field and coming closer. It was too foggy to tell much about the antlers. Still, he nudged his son.

“As the buck approached the bottom, I recognized it as the one I’d seen during bow season. It had a very unusual rack on the right side, which I had never gotten a real good look at because it always seemed to travel from right to left,” Norm said.

Wake-up Call“The left side was very impressive with long tines, but the right side was pretty much a blur,” he added. “Even as the buck continued toward us, I was still confused over what it carried on the right. There was no definition … nothing stood out.”

Macc was wide awake and cradling his Remington 870 12 gauge at that point. The buck looked like it was going to cross the creek right in front of them.

“The only problem was there was a tree in front of me that I had to keep looking around,” Macc said. “I wasn’t sure which side the deer would be on after it crossed, so I was moving a bit, trying to get a better view.

“If it came to my right side, I’d have a good clean shot. But if it came to the left, there were other things in the way, mostly small bushes and stuff I would have to shoot through.

“Dad was starting to get concerned, telling me to get a good steady rest and to be calm and everything, but I wasn’t seeing the deer through binoculars. I didn’t know how big a deer it was or how big the rack was,” he added. “I could just see that it had antlers and was a big-bodied deer. I was going to shoot as soon as it gave me the chance.”

Norm couldn’t understand why his son wasn’t shooting. He was afraid the buck was going to wind or see them.

“I kept telling him to get on the buck, to aim for the shoulder, etc., not knowing what Macc was thinking or doing, except that he was moving,” he said. “I was watching the deer through my binoculars.

“When the buck crossed the creek bed, it was about 50 yards away and slightly to our right. It looked like a good time to shoot to me, but the deer was still in some cover for Macc,” he continued. “I think the buck might’ve seen us moving or heard me talking because it froze.”

Unbeknownst to Norm, a tree stood between his son and the buck.

“When it turned and stepped out from behind the tree, I was on it,” Macc said. “I heard a voice saying, ‘When you are …’ But I never heard the rest of the sentence because I shot.”

The blast surprised Norm. From his vantage point, the deer had moved into some thick cover.

The buck whirled around and took off across the open bean field, headed to a finger of woods to the left of the hunters.

“I was questioning Macc as to his shot placement ... if he really was on target, and he assured me that he had made a good hit right on the shoulder,” Norm said. “About that time, we both heard what we believed was the buck crashing in the woods maybe 100 yards distant.”

Rather than push their luck or the deer, father and son went back to Aunt Marion’s home to wait for an hour or so. Norm called a friend, Jimmy Brown, who’s an experienced tracker.

When Jimmy arrived, they went back to the blind and picked up the trail, which was easy.

“As soon as I saw the blood splattered everywhere, I knew I’d made a good shot,” Macc said. “We followed blood all the way, and when we were about 20 yards from the woods, we saw the antlers sticking up above the grass.

“I reached the buck first, plopped down and lifted the head. That was the first time I’d really even looked at the antlers. They were huge!” he continued. “That’s when the celebration, the high-fives and praising the Lord began.

We tried counting points several times, but some of the points were really confusing.

“Dad made me field-dress the deer under his supervision to make sure I did it right, and then I took a few pictures with my cell phone. By then, Dad’s friend had returned with the truck. We loaded it on the back and headed for Aunt Marion’s house,” Macc said.

“After we left there, we stopped at a few places to show it to friends. We also had people wave us down so they could get a look. It was pretty exciting,” he added.

Hunter: Macc McClain
BTR Official Score: 198 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 216 5/8

— Photos Courtesy of Macc McClain

This article was published in the November 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd