Taking note of the comings and goings of whitetails on a mere five acres should be as easy as pulling a can of green beans out of the cupboard.
Cody Gwinner and his father, Ted, know their little patch of woods like it was a pantry. And they’d normally have pinpointed the freshest and most often used deer trails long before the season opened, which is where they’d hang or move treestands.
They’ve also employed trail cameras to get an idea of what kind of deer are moving through their place.
But none of that happened in 2012.
“I normally start glassing the surrounding crop fields in early July and follow through until the season opens and beyond,” Cody said. “Last year was different. Between going to work and helping with the family chores, I was just too wrapped up to do any of it.
“Only when the season was upon us did I do a small amount of glassing,” he continued. “I probably put in five hours over several days.”
Cody saw nothing to excite him during the time he spent with binoculars glued to his eyes. But he did see a couple of very nice 10-pointers cross his own driveway one morning in mid-August. He hoped they’d stick around for a few more weeks.
“Our property is fairly small, but it’s mostly wooded, and we’re surrounded by acres and acres of food,” he said. “Plus, the area has good genetics.”
This means that Cody and his dad aren’t entirely disadvantaged if they have to head blindly afield, and they’ve seen or taken numerous deer in the 150-inch range to prove it. Hunting there is a matter of checking the wind and going to whichever stand best accommodates it.
Still, the bucks have to do their part.
When the 2012 archery season opened, Cody was in no hurry to burn a tag. It was hot for October, and the deer weren’t anxious to be on their feet until after dark.
He saw only a small 7-pointer during those few early excursions.
“On Nov. 5, my dad and I were on the job, working together. All we talked about was deer hunting, and neither of us expected anything great to happen because we’d not put in the usual time preparing,” Cody said.
“I left work at 2:00 that day to pick up my sister at the school bus stop. When we got home, I decided to suit up and spend the rest of the afternoon in a deer stand. I sent a text to my dad, letting him know I was going, and he said he’d join me when he got home from work,” he added.
Cody was aloft by 4:00, and Ted climbed into his stand, which was about 80 yards from Cody’s, about 4:35. Both men rattled and grunted.
“One of us was making some kind of noise every few minutes,” Cody laughed.
At 5:00, Cody saw a small buck approaching from the neighboring property. When he reached for his binoculars, he dropped them.
“That really made my day,” he said.
Fifteen minutes after the unwelcomed thud, Cody heard a crashing noise in front of him and glimpsed a rack in the brush. A buck was following a doe through the high weeds of the nearby CRP field.
But they weren’t alone.
“There were actually two bucks chasing the doe. And judging from what little I could see, one of them was a shooter,” he said. “I immediately grabbed my bow and began digging around for my grunt call, just in case I needed it.
“The doe and the smaller buck were in the lead, and they were going to pass in front of me at about 25 yards,” he continued. “Somewhere behind was the other buck. I could hear it grunting and panting in the heat.”
Cody drew his bow before he could actually see the deer. He just knew it was closing the gap.
When the rear guard suddenly came into view at 15 yards, Cody bleated softly with his mouth, but the buck ignored him.
“I practically yelled the second time, and that stopped the deer in its tracks,” he said. “A split-second later, my arrow smacked it, and the deer actually groaned. Dad even heard it from 80 yards away!
“I knew it was a perfect shot as soon as I released the arrow,” Cody added.
The buck’s head went down, and its antlers dragged in the leaves as it tried to gain enough oomph to get out of there. When it did take off, it managed only 40 yards.
Cody couldn’t see the downed animal, but he could tell if it moved by watching the weeds.
“I stayed in my stand until dark,” he said. “When my dad came over to see what all the commotion had been, I was still sitting there, thinking about the encounter and dealing with about 50 different emotions.
“It had happened so fast, I wasn’t sure how big the buck actually was. I didn’t have time to get a good look at the antlers or even its body. I just knew from instinct that it was a shooter,” he said.
Cody told his father that he’d smoked a big one and that it was lying out in the weeds. While his dad walked in that direction, he began descending his tree.
“I was halfway down when Dad yelled, which made me jump the rest of the way,” Cody said.
He considers that moment —standing over the enormous buck with his father — as one of the most exciting moments of his life.
“I would never have taken this deer if it weren’t for my father. I owe him a great deal of thanks for all he has done to help me learn about hunting,” Cody said.
“From the time I was old enough to accompany him to the woods, he’s taken me along,” he added. “He even let me skip high school the first week of November so we could hunt the rut.”
After he and Ted had marveled over the bigger-than-expected buck, Cody called and sent text messages and photographs to several of his buddies and to neighbors.
“I was amazed to learn that nobody had ever seen it, that a buck of this caliber had been living in our own back yard, undetected,” he said. “Man, I was just lucky.”
Hunter: Cody Gwinner
BTR Score: 242 4/8
– Photo courtesty of Cody Gwinner
This article was published in the Winter 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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