Rack Magazine

Derailing the Deer Train

Derailing the Deer Train

By Ed Waite

Whenever a deer is ‘daytiming,’ it’s time to take a walk in your underwear.

Cody Cutler’s family owns 1,100 acres near Fort Scott, Kansas. Some of the acreage is devoted to row crops, and some is set aside for beef cattle. Two unfarmed parcels – of 110 and 160 acres – are off-limits to cattle, though, and are teeming with deer.

“My friends and I try to manage the deer for optimum antler growth and the health of the herd,” Cody said. “We have feeders on both sections, and run a few trail cameras.”

Cody’s friend, Travis Bland, came by on Nov. 14, 2015. It was warm, 65 degrees, and the wind was wrong to hunt that day. Still, the pair decided to go out to pull camera cards and to retrieve Cody’s bow and other gear he’d left in his stand overnight.

After collecting everything, they returned home.

When they started looking at the images on a trail cam memory card, they came across one of a deer with a forked P2 that was taken that very morning. They knew the buck, and were thrilled to see it afoot while the sun was overhead.

“After talking things out, we decided it was time to get out there and see if we could put a tag on that buck,” Cody said. “It appeared to be locked down with a doe we saw in the trail cam photos, so we expected it to be seriously distracted.

“After a quick shower, I went outside in only my underwear and tennis shoes and rubbed both my body and my hunting clothes with cedar,” he continued. “I then drove to the place, parked, and – still in my underwear – walked most of the way to my stand.”

About 80 yards from his treestand, Cody put on his Scent-Lok clothing. He was aloft by 2:30, and was looking at a deer in just 15 minutes.

Soon afterward, a 130- to 140-inch 8-pointer came in to feed. It was as nervous as it was hungry, however, and it kept looking to the east.

“I wondered what it was hearing or seeing that I was not able to see,” Cody said. “Everywhere in that direction was very thick with cedars and honeysuckle. I strained my eyes trying to see what might be inside the thicket.

“Eventually, I glimpsed a deer jump the fence about 200 yards away,” he continued. “It was a doe, and she was walking toward me. Then another deer jumped the fence and stood looking around. When it turned its head, I saw the long tines and recognized the buck from the trail cam photo.

“Both deer approached, traveling from east to west, slowly. At 55 yards, they stopped and I drew my bow. I couldn’t shoot, though, so I had to let down.

Derailing the Deer Train“When I did, they took off running. They went farther to my west, circled and came back around toward very fast. I quickly stood and drew my bow as they passed through my shooting lane. I didn’t even think to try to stop that buck,” he said.

The deer, by that time, had re-entered a brushy area. The buck was obviously going wherever the doe led it. And they weren’t alone in the thicket.

“I’d never heard so much deer noise, grunting and roaring,” Cody said. “It was just crazy! There were seven different bucks pursuing one hot doe. They were chasing her away from me.”

Several minutes after the deer train chugged northward, Cody saw another lone deer coming south, following a logging road leading right toward him. He soon realized it was the hot doe, because the buck with the split P2 was only a few seconds behind her.

“She passed through an opening at 55 yards, making another circle,” Cody said. “Meanwhile, the little 8-pointer reappeared, and the big buck ran it off before veering back on the doe’s trail.

“I wasn’t sure if the buck could see me. I was in a small cedar tree that moved quite a bit whenever I stood or sat,” he continued. “I drew while sitting.

“As I raised my bow, the buck was obscured by the one branch I’d failed to cut off. The entire time I have hunted from this tree, I had meant to cut that one branch and never did,” he said.

“I about went ballistic. I had to ease down again, and when I did, the buck’s head snapped up and he looked straight in my direction. I don’t think he actually saw me, just some unknown movement.

“I almost panicked, but I somehow controlled my emotions, moved my feet to the left side of my stand and slowly stood.

“I remember my sight pin moving all over the buck, from its neck to its hip. It took a bit before I finally calmed down, settled the pin behind the shoulder and squeezed that trigger. The deer was at 55 yards, and I have never seen an arrow fly better in my life.

“The buck dropped just as the arrow arrived, but the shaft buried up to the fletchings, right where I wanted it. I watched the deer running through the timber as I sat.

“I was shaking and saying to myself, ‘I got him! I got him! ‘ And then I heard it fall. It sounded just like wind toppling a tree,” he added.

Cody knew the buck was down, so he started texting his buddies.

They all told him to stay put, and he managed to do so for 45 minutes. When he could wait no longer, he got down and went over to look at his arrow.

It wasn’t really necessary to follow the blood as Cody knew almost exactly where he would find his buck. He walked right up to it, lying in a pile of rocks along some of the farm’s roughest ground.

“My friends Justin Russell and Travis came around to help me get the buck out and back to the barn,” Cody said.

“Later that day, I pulled the cards on the camera to find I had a photo of the buck just seconds before the arrow struck. The next photo was of me picking up the broken arrow,” he added.

Editor’s Note: Ed Waite is a master scorer and regional director for Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records. A longtime contributor to Rack magazine, he has also published three volumes of big deer tales, “Wallhangers” I, II and III, which are available at book stores, on Amazon and through WallhangersUSA.com.

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

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Copyright 2021 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd