By Michael Baumer
-- When he heard a buck working over a sapling in the nearby fence row, Levi Baumer thought his hunt might get interesting. Then the buck jumped the fence and walked into the unpicked cornfield Levi was watching from a 17-foot treestand, and the 13-year-old bowhunter’s heart really picked up the pace.
Studying the buck, Levi realized immediately that this was the one he wanted to put his tag on. The huge buck was working a scrape line that had been washed out the day before when the first cold front of the season had passed through. With light fading, the buck turned as if on cue and began walking down the faint trail that led directly under Levi’s stand.
Having hunted this six-acre woodlot on our central Indiana family farm many times before, Levi knew the trail and also knew his only shot at the buck would be straight down. After bringing it to a stop with a soft mouth grunt just 10 feet from the tree, Levi let his 100-grain Grim Reaper fly.
Having practiced and being comfortable with his equipment, the young hunter watched his arrow slice right through the deer, but the impact was a little farther back than he would have liked. He watched the buck flee and listened as it apparently went down in heavy cover about 45 yards away.
He immediately called me, his dad, to say he "just shot the biggest buck he had ever seen in the woods." Levi has spent many hours in the deer stand. He harvested his first deer with a gun at age 8, and his first bow harvest came at the age of 11. I knew his claim had at least some creditability.
I told him, "Find your arrow if it’s close by. Then sneak out and be quiet." Next thing I knew, he was at the truck door, arrow in hand, out of breath and hardly able to talk.
Holding up his arrow, he managed to blurt out, "Look at that! Look at that!" The full length of the arrow was covered with both blood and digested food. We then reasoned that we were way ahead of the game, because Levi was sure he heard the buck go down. We decided the best thing to do would be to come back in the morning.
On the ride home, Levi assured me the buck was at least 150 inches. After getting a good look at the its left side as it jumped the fence, Levi said, "It looked like a wall of tines." Since it was a school night, I told him we would get up before school to recover the deer. After hashing and rehashing the hunt, we went to bed for a sleepless night.
Well before daylight, we headed back to the woods. Because it had only been 10 hours since the deer had been arrowed, I would have felt better if we had waited a little longer, but Levi needed to go to school, and he wanted to at least check the blood trail. That proved to be an easy task. Although it wasn’t heavy, it was consistent.
We proceeded slowly and quietly, and as we got to within 10 yards of where Levi thought the buck had bedded, we heard twigs snap. As we stood there with our hearts pounding, a few more twigs snapped and we heard a deep intake of breath. We then knew what we were hearing. As hard as it was to back out again, I promised Levi that I would pick him up at school and that we would be able to walk right up to his buck since we knew were it was located.
After school, we headed out again to get his deer. We took up the trail and approached the area were we had heard the buck earlier that morning. As I had hoped, it had expired. The deer was in such heavy cover that we couldn’t see it in very well, but as we pushed through and finally got a good look, we soon realized it was, indeed, "the biggest buck Levi had ever seen."
Levi had passed several smaller bucks in hopes of tagging a "nice one." This was a "nice one."
The buck turned out to be a mainframe 12-pointer with split brow tines, and it field-dressed at 239 pounds. Levi and I feel very blessed and thankful to have been able to experience the harvest of such a great buck so early in his life.
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