Buddies Carl Morris Jr. and Jeremy Martin were convinced that the bull of their woods was a photogenic 12-pointer with a gleaming white rack. Of the many deer their trail cameras photographed during the weeks leading up to Ohio’s 2011 season, the big 6x6 stood out like a Brahma in a goat pen.
Understandably, that buck was at the top of their wish lists. Not a day passed when at least one — if not both — of them was in a stand, hoping to see the behemoth within an arrow’s reach.
The guys have permission to hunt a 100-acre farm in Licking County, which they typically begin scouting in August. Carl, who owns a landscaping business near Columbus, says even though they’ve hunted the place for several years, they still like to see what might await them.
“The trail cams help us see what kind of deer pass through there,” he said. “The best, hands-down, was this beautiful 12-pointer. Its antlers were almost pure white, like they had been polished. There was no mistaking it in the photos.”
Carl and Jeremy had four stands on the place.
“The one I refer to as Jeremy’s stand overlooks the edge of a cornfield,” Carl explained. “I have one close to there, in the middle of the woods that covers the trail leading to the field.”
Those two setups beckoned Carl on Nov. 4. Jeremy was out of town that day.
“The afternoon was quite nice with a slight northwest wind and temperature of nearly 50 degrees,” he said. “Since Jeremy was up in northern Ohio and would not get back in time because of the traffic, I decided to sit his stand. I had been seeing a group of deer about 100 yards from my setup and closer to his.
“Since the farmer had cut the corn the previous week, the stubble had become a deer buffet,” Carl continued. “We had been hunting pretty much all week and had seen quite a few deer.”
Carl arrived home that Friday later than he’d hoped. By the time he changed clothes, drove out to the farm and climbed into his friend’s stand with his crossbow, there was only about an hour of shooting light remaining.
Turns out, that was all he needed.
“I had been in the stand for only a short time when a big doe came walking toward me about 6:15. She kept looking over her shoulder, too, so I knew something was behind her,” he said.
“I finally saw the buck exiting the trees, and my heart started pounding. It was not the 12-pointer I’d been hoping all season to see. This guy was a total stranger. We had no idea a deer of that caliber was out there!
“From about 75 yards out, it eventually wound up behind me,” he continued. “I was not able to get a shot, but my eyes were riveted on the deer.
“Fortunately for me, the doe circled back toward me, and the buck followed her. When it was about 30 yards out, I raised my crossbow,” Carl said.
“I was just about ready to shoot when the buck suddenly turned and bounced off about 50 yards. I was sure I had missed my opportunity.
“With the buck standing there, I tried my grunt call. But the deer moved even farther away from me. When I grunted again, the doe made a move and, once again, her boyfriend started coming closer, hugging cover,” he added.
The buck came to within 20 yards that time, but Carl still had no shot through the brush. When it turned and started walking away from him, the hunter in the tree tasted bile.
“My nerves were shot,” he said. “So close, but yet so far.”
When the deer had backed off about 40 yards, Carl heard someone start and take off on a four-wheeler. The buck heard it, too, and raised its head to look in the direction of the noise.
Then, to Carl’s surprise, rather than walk away from the noise, the buck started walking toward it, which meant it was coming back!
“The deer came directly underneath my stand. I could neither shoot nor breathe,” he said. “It stood there for forever, or 30 seconds, whichever is longer, and then turned around and started walking away once more.
“That time, I had a shot. It was only 10 yards away when I squeezed the trigger. Afterward, the buck ran about 40 yards, stopped and looked back at me. After a short pause, it started walking away as if nothing had happened.
“It re-entered the woods about 100 yards distant,” he added.
Because nightfall was just a few minutes away, Carl remained seated and called Jeremy, who had made it home.
“Jeremy and I checked the spot where I connected and found the arrow and lots of blood. After marking the spot, we headed for the house to eat and to collect our tracking gear. We went back out at 11 p.m.,” he said.
“The farther we went, the more nervous I got. After 100 yards, the blood trail became sparse. By the time we had covered the second 100 yards, we were really straining to find the next drops.
“We eventually walked the entire length of the woods, more than 500 yards. The buck seemed to have traveled a straight line toward another cornfield.
“Upon reaching the field, we were both pretty depressed. We had searched for hours,” Carl said.
With wide open space in front of them, Jeremy pointed his powerful flashlight into the corn stubble to scan the field. Seeing the buck’s enormous white belly was the anti-depressant the pals needed.
“After some serious handshaking and back-slapping, we admired the incredible buck. It was bigger than I’d thought,” Carl said.
“Jeremy was dumbfounded. So was I,” he added. “We had no idea this buck existed.”
Later, when they examined the buck under the glare of garage lights, they discovered Carl’s shot had been perfect; the bolt had double-lunged the animal. That it still managed to run 600 yards is both amazing and testament to a whitetail’s stamina.
Hunter: Carl Morris Jr.
BTR Score: 205 6/8
— Photos Courtesy of Carl Morris Jr.
This article was published in the July 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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