By Benjamin S. Hofer
-- It was Nov. 5, 2006, and I made it to my stand around 6 a.m. The morning was slow, so I decided I should go have a sandwich back at camp. I reached for my pack and started to grab my bow when I heard what sounded like a pack of squirrels. I turned around to see three does and a nice 8-point buck coming very quickly into bow range.
At that point I decided to stay put. As I watched the does and the buck mill around underneath my stand, I decided against taking the 8-pointer, hoping to let it grow for another year. I eventually got out of that stand and moved to the other side of the property. I saw eight different bucks that day that included a very nice 9- or 10-pointer, which against all my silent chants just did not come into bow range. I stayed in the woods until well after dusk. Eventually, I climbed down and headed to camp, where I shared my story with my uncle who was sidelined halfway through the day with an occurrence of sciatica.
The next morning, I had a case of "The Sleepy Hunter's Syndrome," and I was quite a bit late as I made my way to my stand. The property we hunt is basically one big hillside. A walk to the top of the hill can be quite a hike. So I took it slow, trying to prevent sweating and an uncomfortable day. I finally climbed into my stand around 7:45. I was in my stand no more than 15 minutes when I heard some leaves crunching as something made its way up the hillside.
I looked in the general direction and then it happened ... that moment every hunter dreams about. I saw a big chocolate rack coming over the hill attached to a mature buck's body. Hunters reading this story know exactly what happened next. Fever set in and I was incapable of remembering my name.
The buck stepped onto the flat ridge about 70 yards from my stand. The buck stood still and scanned the area for almost 20 minutes. Then it did exactly what I thought it would do. The buck turned and started to skirt the hill in the opposite direction of my stand, stopping every 5 to 10 yards to rake the leaves in the low hanging branches on its way.
I watched the buck for about half an hour when it did the unexpected. The brute put its nose straight up in the air, spun around and headed right for me. At this point, my bow was still hanging, and I was totally unprepared. I frantically reached for my bow, and got myself into the most comfortable position I could to take a shot. The buck was coming hard with its nose pointed to the ground.
The big deer walked 15 yards from my stand where I stopped it with a grunt call. I took a deep breath and let the arrow fly. The buck ran about 6 yards before it crashed in a thicket. Then it shot back up and ran another 15 yards before lying down for the last time.
I could not contain myself at this point, and it took everything I had to remain in the stand for 30 minutes, which seemed like 24 hours. I was overjoyed as I made my way to camp where my friend, Ted, had to make some sense out of what I was saying. The only phrase I could get out was, "Big buck down! Big buck down!"
That was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. Did I mention that this massive 10-point buck was the first buck I had ever harvested. The buck scored 151 inches unofficially and is just awesome.
Benjamin S. Hofer