Still think laying down a scent trail is a waste of time?
Mike Mallory has no qualms about stinking up his boots. As far as he’s concerned, drag rags are for wusses.
The old trick of dousing his boots with doe-in-heat scent paid off handsomely last year for the bowhunter from Akron, Ohio. Going into the season, he might’ve known the place he hunts held at least three shooter bucks; he knew where they liked to walk, too.
But even more important than the photos taken by his new trail cameras, even more significant than his quick mastery of a crossbow, he credits Tink’s #69 for luring the bull of the woods into his lap in mid-September.
“My son and I nicknamed the biggest one Shaker because the first time I saw him from a treestand, I shook so badly that I was unable to get off a shot. It was the first and last time during the 2012 season that the buck came close enough for me to draw my bow,” Mike said. “I saw him on several occasions, but never closer than about 60 yards.”
Neither Mike nor his 15-year-old son, Jacob, had seen this buck before the 2012 encounters, but they were determined to see it again the following year.
“I’d never had any trail cameras to that point, but I decided it was time,” he said. “I bought two and set them up during the spring. We constantly moved them to cover different trails within the 80 acres we hunt.”
Mike had gained access to the large Summit County woodlot by lending his carpentry skills and sweat equity to an older farmer, Mark, who considers hunting rights a small price to pay for the much needed help. Soybean and cornfields, a pumpkin patch and active pastureland surround the tract.
In addition to repairing a barn and other outbuildings, Mike built the farmer an enclosed, easily accessible deer stand as well as treestands for himself and his son, the latter where their cameras documented active deer trails.
In the summertime, father and son began retrieving photographs of a trio of nice bucks. Judging from how their racks were growing, all would be shooters by the time the 2013 season dawned.
When bow season finally opened, Mike spent more time there alone than he’d planned.
“Jacob was into school sports, which put a damper on his hunting time,” he said. “As a result, I went by myself many evenings.”
There was another unplanned glitch, too, when Mike fell from a ladder at a construction site, injuring his right shoulder. Undeterred, even by surgery, he simply found an alternate means of hunting by buying his first crossbow.
He was surprised by how easy it was to cock and shoot, though it took missing an easy (first) shot at a doe to refine his technique. A second shot, however, let the air out of her.
He also learned not to carry things in his jacket pocket, like his wife’s mp3 player that he crushed when cocking the weapon for the follow-up shot.
He struck out alone again on Sept. 16, crossbow in hand. As usual, he entered the woodlot by way of the bean field.
“I cross the field at a pretty fast pace, since I’m out in the wide open,” he said. “I carry all my gear in a backpack, including the quiver for my (bolts). When I reach the edge of the woods, I stop, remove the backpack, spray myself down with scent eliminator, and then pour some Tink’s #69 on my boots for the final 100 or so yards to the stand.”
It was almost daybreak when Mike reached his tree and attached his pack and crossbow to the pull-up rope.
“After I hauled myself onto the platform, still on my knees, I glanced at the trail I had come in and was astounded to see this huge buck coming up that very trail, nose to the ground, undoubtedly sniffing the Tink’s,” he said.
“My bow and backpack were still on the ground, and I was sweating bullets. It was the largest of the three bucks we had been watching, and there it was, closing the distance.
“While its head was down, I quickly and carefully began pulling up my gear. I quietly set everything on the platform and tried to unzip the backpack so I could get to the quiver. It was agonizingly slow, but I got it done,” he added.
By the time Mike was ready, the buck was facing him at a mere 20 yards. He thought about trying a neck shot, but dismissed the idea almost immediately.
“Instead, I made a gentle urrrp with my mouth, and the buck half-turned, exposing its side,” he said.
A second or two later, the bolt passed through both the deer’s lungs.
“It ran off about 50 yards before I lost sight of it, and then I was sure I heard it fall. I was a ball of nerves,” he said. “It was five minutes past 7:00. I sat there until 8:30.”
When he was on the ground, Mike cocked and reloaded the crossbow before creeping toward where he’d last seen the buck. When he reached the area, he saw it lying in the leaves, still alive, moving its head and those huge antlers from side to side.
“I didn’t want to spook it, so I just hunkered down and waited,” he said. “When it was over, I moved in to marvel at this magnificent animal. The antlers were huge, bigger than anything I had ever laid hands on. I counted and recounted the points.
“When I tried to roll it over to start the field-dressing, I knew I was in trouble. I’m not a big man, and the deer seemed twice my size,” he continued. “I was strong enough to roll it, but there was no way I could drag it the 500-plus yards to the barn where my truck was parked.”
He wound up calling the farmer, who came to the rescue with his winch-equipped, all-terrain vehicle.
“It was still a struggle to finally get Shaker up a small embankment and into the little bed,” Mike said. “Back at the barn, the scales showed 272 pounds, field-dressed!”
Hunter: Mike Mallory
BTR Score: 195 5/8”
– Photos by Ed Waite
This article was published in the Winter 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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