Floodwaters pushed this buck onto higher ground. That he chose not to recede was his undoing.
Lucky indeed is the person fortunate enough to hunt on his own or family land. It’s definitely more special, even if you don’t shoot a big buck.
Thirty-year-old Cody Griffin of McKinney, Texas, did both last October.
In most parts of Texas, deer hunters spend a lot of time praying for rain because a good rainy season always translates to big antlers. More often than not, the rain doesn’t come.
In 2015, Cody’s family was praying for the rain to stop. Spring and summer deluges flooded many portions of East Texas, causing untold damage and hardship, not to mention loss of life.
Cody had taken up bowhunting the previous year, spending most of his time on a 200-acre tract north of Dallas that has been in his family for 125 years.
“Our family also owns some land close to the Oklahoma line near the Red River,” he said. “I grew up varmint and hog hunting with my dad on that land. But the deer in that area never got very big. I never shot one.”
The new archer’s inaugural season wasn’t much better on the 200 acres. But at least Cody had a solid reason to return, hunt after hunt.
“My roommate and I set up some stands on the property and put out a few cameras,” he said. “I saw a giant buck, but we never had any close encounters. The area is not known for producing any really big ones, so just seeing a large rack was highly unusual. We hoped we might see it again in 2015.”
The floodgates opened the following May.
“It rained about 30 inches that month,” Cody said. “All that water pushed the deer out of the bottoms, and we suddenly started seeing some very large bucks on our property.
“We kept seeing six bucks in one group that always stayed together,” he continued. “Amazingly, after the water receded, they remained in the area, going back and forth from a neighbor’s property to ours. We saw them on a regular basis throughout the summer.”
One of those bucks was huge, and Cody dubbed it Dream Maker. The big Irregular was definitely the cock of the walk, though the others also wore impressive racks. One was a beautiful 6x6 Typical.
Cody got several trail cam pictures of Dream Maker and the other bucks during the summer. No one could believe the size of the deer’s incredible rack.
“I set up a few stands and practiced with my bow,” Cody said. “Archery season opened on the weekend of Oct. 3. I sat in one of my stands all day on Saturday without seeing a thing. By then, it had been several weeks since we’d gotten any pictures of the bucks. We wondered if they had gone back to the low areas.”
The following Wednesday, Cody checked a couple of his cameras. To his surprise, one contained several daytime photos of Dream Maker.
“I was really fired up, but I knew we didn’t have a stand or ground blind set up in that area,” Cody said.
“Nonetheless, I was itching to get back out there. On Friday afternoon, it was extremely windy, but I thought: You know what? I think I’ll gamble and go after work anyway.
“I left work just before 5:00 that afternoon, drove to Cabela’s, and bought a pop-up blind. We had rolled some large hay bales together and cut a few small cedar trees as sort of a makeshift brush blind in one corner of the pasture near the spot where the camera was located.
“I set up the pop-up blind between four bales to sort of hide it. I knew the deer were used to seeing those bales, and I hoped they wouldn’t get alarmed at the addition.
“I got in the blind and waited. Around 6 p.m., the wind was really kicking up and I thought: I’m not going to see anything today.”
But he was dead wrong.
Around 6:50 p.m., three bucks stepped out of the woods at about 60 yards.
“I froze. I knew immediately one was Dream Maker.
“In the past, whenever I had seen Dream Maker with the group, he was always the last one. He’d always hang behind and let the other bucks come out first. On this day, for some strange reason, he was the first.”
Cody always puts a little corn out near the camera to entice the deer to walk in front of the lens. Dream Maker walked directly to some scattered corn.
“He stopped within 15 yards of the blind and took a bite of corn,” he said. “I already had an arrow nocked. When I drew, he looked directly at me.
“My nerves were about to explode,” Cody added. “I was at full draw, and he seemed to sense something was not right.”
By then, it was after 7 p.m. and darkness was fast approaching.
“He seemed very antsy,” Cody continued. “But the moment he put his head down for a second bite, I let the arrow fly. It looked like a good hit, and he took off running.
“He went 30 or 40 yards and disappeared into the nearby tree line. I immediately sent texts to my dad and everyone in my family to tell them the news. At first, they didn’t believe me. But Dad finally realized I was serious. ‘Don’t move,’ he said. ‘I’ll be there with some flashlights in 30 minutes.’”
Cody and his father recovered the buck in short order. The double-lunged animal hadn’t traveled far.
Editor’s Note: Duncan Dobie’s new book, “Dawn of American Deer Hunting, A Photographic Odyssey of Deer Hunting History,” is now available online and through the author. Autographed copies can be purchased by calling (770) 973-8049.
Hunter: Cody Griffin
BTR Score: 212 2/8
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This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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