Rack Magazine

Fine Day for Playing Hooky

Fine Day for Playing Hooky

By Lisa Price

Bucks are more predictable when they’re interested only in eating and sleeping.

Ethan Brogden of Burns, Tennessee, hunts his father’s 80 acres in Dickson County. So do his stepbrother, Jeff Triolo, and friend Jacob White.

His stepdad, the late Mike Trilio, used to hunt there as well.

The guys had been drooling over the same buck since 2012, the year it first stepped in front of a trail camera. The big whitetail added a major drop tine in 2013, but that disappeared the next season.

“Even in the first picture, it was one of the biggest bucks we’d seen in our part of Tennessee,” Ethan said. “And even though we only have 80 acres, we were able to keep that deer around and growing.”

Ethan said the group makes sure there is little hunting pressure on the resident deer. Only one or two people at a time hunt the place, and only when the weather and wind direction are right.

“We pick the right days to hunt, and the day I killed this buck (Oct. 1), I was supposed to be at work,” Ethan said. “But I woke up that Thursday morning, checked the weather conditions and thought, Man, I’m not going to work today. I’m going to hunt this afternoon.”

Ethan says the deer there are easily patterned according to what they eat in early October. He had a particular spot in mind, a place where Jacob had put several treestands during the off-season. He’d hung a few so a hunter had options for varying winds.

“Because of the trail cam pictures, we knew there was a trail the buck frequented that time of year,” Ethan said. “I decided to try a stand near a soybean field. That was only my second time to get in one in 2015.”

The guys hadn’t retrieved photos of the buck since July, but they knew because of previous years it was due to put in an appearance.

The stand Ethan chose overlooked a grassy field. When he reached it, he saw the grass had grown into a jungle. A farmer usually kept the grass cut, but he hadn’t that year.

“The grass seemed to be 10 feet tall in places, leaning over on itself. But I could tell the deer were traveling through there,” he said. “They’d made a nice path, and it gave them a place to hide.”

Fine Day for Playing HookyThe day had been rainy and windy, but about 20 minutes before dark, both stopped. Almost immediately, Ethan spotted some does running in the distance, and one started blowing. She wasn’t blowing at him, though, because she was running toward him.

“Then I could see two good bucks, moving from right to left, toward the does,” he said. “They were still pretty far away, so I picked up the binoculars and glassed them.

“I remember thinking, That’s a good Tennessee buck,” he added. “Even when it was 150 yards away, I could see the rack as the deer raked its antlers in a small tree.”

It was great to see the buck in person, but Ethan wasn’t expecting to get a shot at it with his bow. The buck was still far away, at least 80 yards, and so were the does.

“And then, suddenly, it was like somebody slapped it in the butt and sent it my way,” Ethan grinned. “It started walking toward me through the tall grass, but not on the path. It was walking through the grass, and I could track its progress as the grass was swaying. It was like it just turned and made a beeline right to my tree, and there was no reason for it to do that.”

The buck got to a spot where a tree blocked its view of the stand, and Ethan took that opportunity to draw his Mathews bow. When the buck was broadside at 28 yards, he released his arrow.

“It seemed like the second I made the shot, it started to rain. It was pouring,” he said. “I was sitting there thinking, I can’t believe I just got a shot at the buck I’ve been watching for four years.”

One of his first thoughts was of his stepdad, who’d taught him to hunt. Mike had passed away the previous December.

Fine Day for Playing Hooky“I thought of him right away, and then hated that I couldn’t share the experience with him,” Ethan said. “But as quickly as the thought of him came to mind, I remember thinking, Maybe he was here with me in spirit. Maybe he’s the one who slapped that buck in the butt and sent him over to me.”

Darkness came, and the rain showed no sign of lessening.

“I had forgotten my flashlight, and I tried to use the cell phone flashlight to follow the blood trail,” Ethan said. “I wasn’t getting anywhere with that, because the buck had run away right back through the tall grass, and it was very hard to track.”

He texted Jacob, who was also hunting that afternoon, and he agreed to join him.

Standing in the rain, waiting for his friend, Ethan suffered through some long minutes. But since Jacob had a flashlight, the worry soon ended.

“With the flashlight, even with the rain, it was probably the easiest tracking job I ever had. The buck had gone only about 80 yards,” Ethan said. “When we got to it, both of us were really in disbelief.”

In central Tennessee, a 150- to 160-incher is a GREAT buck. Ethan had never taken a buck that scored more than 140. Seeing a nearly 190-inch specimen at their feet left them speechless.

“There’s a part of me that’s still in disbelief, because this is the biggest deer I’ve ever seen in Tennessee,” he said. “I’m still enjoying it, because that 14-pointer is the talk of the town.”

Hunter: Ethan Brogden
BTR Score: 189 5/8
View BTR Scoresheet

This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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