Doug Dorff of Carlyle, Ill., passed up an iffy shot at this buck in 2009. When the stars aligned two seasons later, there was nothing but 70 yards of air between hunter and hunted.
Aw, not again. What, is this our fourth child?” asked Joni Dorff, as her husband, Doug, tenderly buckled the buck rack into a passenger seat in the family minivan. “Do we have to take this everywhere?”
“Yes,” Doug answered, sheepishly. “C’mon, everyone wants to see it, and the pictures don’t do the rack justice.”
Doug had been very popular all around Carlyle, Ill., since his 14-year-old daughter, Elyse, posted a photograph of the buck on her Facebook page. Since then, everywhere he went, people wanted to see his buck, and he was happy to oblige.
After all, he’d had to wait two years for a second chance at the bruiser.
“Three years ago (2009) was the first time I saw it, the first year I started bowhunting,” Doug said. “I was sitting in a stand, and all I could see were antlers going through the cornfield.
“I thought the corn stalks would deflect my arrow if I took the shot,” he added. “I consoled myself, thinking it would probably come back the next day.”
But it didn’t.
Doug passed up several nice bucks, including a heavy 8-pointer, hoping the big one would return.
In 2010, he didn’t get many chances to hunt as work took priority during hunting season.
Before the 2011 hunting season, Doug and his 7-year-old son, Ethan, spent a pleasant afternoon hanging a new stand about 100 yards from where he’d seen the big buck in 2009. While Doug hung the stand, Ethan was bustling around in the woods.
“The boy built a teepee of sticks right by the stand,” Doug said. “I told him that the teepee was going to ruin the deer hunting.”
As Doug started toward the teepee, intending to scatter the sticks, his wife called.
“I ended up leaving the teepee there,” he said. “Then, on the first day I bowhunted from the new stand, a doe walked right up to the teepee, stuck her head into it, and I shot her.”
Doug couldn’t wait to tell Ethan. Before zipping an arrow through the doe, he’d been thinking that he’d knock down the teepee before leaving the woods. Now, with a deer to field-dress and drag, the teepee got its second reprieve.
Later in the archery season, any plan of removing the teepee was forever forgotten.
“I was back in the same stand, watching a doe, and she turned and looked behind her,” he said. “I looked, too, and saw a tree moving. A 10-pointer was rubbing it.”
The buck abandoned the rub and hurried through the area, moving too quickly for Doug to get off a shot through the timber ... that is, until the buck stopped and took a long, hard look at the teepee.
“If it hadn’t stopped to stare at the teepee, I wouldn’t have gotten a shot,” he said. “I guess it’s true that deer really are curious.”
Well, sometimes they aren’t curious for very long.
Instead of trailing the deer right away, Doug went to church with his family that night. He and his 10-year-old son, Evan, returned to recover the buck. Evan found it next to a creek.
Doug was back in that stand when the shotgun season opened on Nov. 18. Evan was also hunting nearby.
“Just before 7 a.m., I happened to turn around and saw a buck about 50 yards from me, looking at the teepee,” Doug said. “It began walking away, and I grunted to no avail.”
The buck’s rack had the same distinctive kicker point as the one Doug had seen on the cornfield buck two years earlier.
“I hollered ‘Hey!’ It stopped, and I shot,” he added. “The deer was only about 70 yards away, quartering, and it did a donkey kick and took off.”
Doug started looking for blood almost immediately, but he couldn’t find any.
“I was kicking myself, thinking I must have been looking at the rack and missed the deer,” he said. “But then I kept thinking about the donkey kick, just like you see on TV.
“But there was no blood, no hair, and I couldn’t believe it,” he added. “I put my hands on my knees and looked down, and there was a drop of blood, right next to my foot.
“Once I found it, it was a good trail. The buck was running out of oil real quickly,” he continued. “Then I saw something shiny in the brush ahead.
“As I got closer, I thought, ‘Man, those are BIG!’ It was like somebody had put fake antlers on it,” he added. “I had to put my hands on them to believe it. I was shaking.
“When I’d seen the buck in 2009, it was just as wide, the same shape,” Doug said. “But in 2011, there was a lot more mass.”
Evan called out to him, “Dad, did you shoot?”
“Yes,” Doug answered. “Meet me at the truck.”
He tagged the deer, and then stood, reluctant to leave it.
“I ran to the truck,” he recalled. “I got Evan and let him do the blood trail. When he got to the buck, he said, ‘Holy cow! Who’s is this?’”
The two celebrated and immediately called Ethan and other family members and friends to share the news.
Hunter: Douglass Dorff
Official Score: 167 4/8
Composite Score: 187
— Photos Courtesy of Douglas Dorff This article was published in the September 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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