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A Second Chance

Brian R. Kightlinger had a second chance to take this Ohio buck during the 2008 bow season after his missed it in 2007 with a muzzleloader.
By Brian R. Kightlinger

-- My 2008 Ohio Buck Story actually started during the 2007 Ohio gun season. It was the first day of the season, and I was carrying a Thompson/Center Prohunter muzzleloader during a hunt with Bill Pyles of Ohio Bow Outfitters from Knox/Licking counties in Ohio. I had hunted the early archery season with Bill on a few of his farms but was unsuccessful in harvesting a nice buck. He invited me back to hunt the Ohio gun opener to fill my buck and doe tags. I took him up on his offer.

I was sitting in an oak ridge early in the morning listening to the light rain, which began to fall harder as the morning went on. It was going to be a long day. I saw nothing, but I heard lots of shots in the distance. At 9:45, I saw orange up the valley about 150 yards away. I called Bill and told him about the other hunter, and he told me to move to a different stand up the ridge. Less than an hour later, I heard two shots and got ready for movement. Nothing came my way.

Ten minutes went by before I spotted a nice 21/2-year-old buck with eight points standing 80 yards away in some brush. I steadied the T/C and pulled the trigger. The bullet deflected off of some brush and the buck gracefully walked away. My heart sank, but I was determined to get that buck in 2008.

My 2008 Pennsylvania archery season slowly dragged on. I passed on a few smaller bucks and was holding out for the big 10-point buck that I had seen on my trail camera photos. The buck never showed up before the season ended.

I was excited to head back to Ohio to redeem myself from the previous season's wayward shot. The weather was going to be rough with cold temperatures and strong wind. Regardless, I headed to a stand in windy, 13-degree weather for the first morning hunt. I saw eight does but no bucks.

I talked with Bill about where I should hunt in the evening. He put me in an area where he knew bucks would be. I got ready for the afternoon hunt and drove to the farm. When I arrived, I realized I did not pack some of my warmer clothes. As rough as the weather was that day, I decided to return to the lodge to get my heavier clothes, so I hopped back in the truck.

Finally, I made it to the stand, and I was ready to hunt. By the time I made it 100 yards away from my stand I notice a few does. One doe was being chased by a young buck.

As I watched, I noticed movement on top of a ridge and realized this was my buck from last year! The buck was slowly walking the trail that the hot doe used. I watched its every move and waited for the buck to pass. I quietly walked to my stand and waited. It was 3 p.m. by the time I was 18 feet up in an oak tree along an oak ridge bowl. I hung my scent canister and turned it on to release some doe scent. The wind was still howling and it started to snow really hard. It lasted for nearly 20 minutes. After the snow stopped the wind also stopped.

The woods were calm and I could hear deer on the opposite ridge running around. I could see legs but no bodies. I could hear deep grunts and trees being raked. I got out my can call and tipped it a few times. I also followed that up with some low grunts of my own. I watched the opposite ridge but nothing was coming. Still, my spirits were high.

The wind changed direction and the scent from my canister was blowing up the ridge. I heard movement in front of me, and I slowly turned to see two squirrels chasing each other. I laughed about the chase going on and turned around to see the buck I was looking for a mere 37 yards away. The buck appeared out of nowhere and was taking in the doe scent. He made a scrape and ripped some trees with his antlers. I grabbed my Mathews Drenalin bow and readied for a shot.

The big 8-point buck turned and walked closer to my stand. I ranged the distance again to be at 30 yards out. The buck stopped to lip curl again, and I drew on him. The buck took two more steps and stopped. My arrow hit home and went through the big buck.

The buck took two hops, walked up the ridge and fell over in a thorn patch. I hung my bow up and jumped up and down in amazement. I could not wait to call Bill, but first I had to see the buck that got away during last year's gun season.

There's no doubt that this 205-pound buck will be a great addition to the trophy wall.

Brian R. Kightlinger
Erie, Pennsylvania

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