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Big Ten in the Buckeye State

Jon Miller

There comes a time every hunter needs autocorrect

By Jon Miller

After watching a big 10-pointer for two seasons, I finally got my shot at it on the evening of October 25, 2013.

I discovered this buck on my trail camera last year on my family’s 200-acre farm in Licking County, Ohio.

After capturing several photos, my cousin and I estimated the buck would push 140 inches. I knew if I ever saw this buck underneath my stand, it would be hard to pass up.

However I didn’t have to worry about it. The buck never once showed last year while I was in the stand.

Since I had several pictures of it by my stand an hour before I got there and an hour after I got out, I’m pretty sure the old boy had patterned me better than I did it.

After an unsuccessful season, I had to wait another year to hopefully see the big ten again.

It was sometime in August when two of my friends, who drive past my parent’s property on a regular basis, said they’d seen a big buck in the hayfield several times late at night.

I decided to put out a corn pile and trail cam to hopefully catch a glimpse of the deer they spoke of.

After about a week, I checked my cam and was excited to see a beautiful 10-pointer. After comparing pictures from the previous year, I was certain it was the same big ten that had eluded me.

I didn’t make it into the woods until three weeks into the season, but at least got out to the farm in October to hang my stand.

My dad met me that morning with some good news. He’d seen a big buck in the hayfield around 8 a.m., so I decided to move my trail cam and treestand just inside the woods overlooking the place Dad described.

I climbed into the stand the next evening and saw plenty of deer, but no big bucks.

That evening, I returned and looked at my camera. Turns out the big ten had once again passed my stand an hour before and an hour after I’d hunted there. It would be several days before I could hunt again.

Jon MillerThe next Friday, I was ordered to work overtime, but one of my coworkers asked if he could work in my place. I gladly told him the extra hours were all his!

I quickly grabbed my gear and raced to the farm, but only had a couple of hours to hunt.

Only a couple of does and little bucks showed, and I began to think the big ten knew I was there.

As the light was fading fast, I heard a noise behind me, so I turned around. There was the big ten, 15 yards away and walking toward me on a logging trail from the hayfield!

I immediately grabbed my bow and waited for it to put its head down before I attempted to move into position for a shot.

But as soon as I moved my bow around the tree, it snapped its head up and stared directly at me.

I froze for what seemed like forever, thinking I was probably busted.

It bobbed its head up and down a couple of times, took a step backward, turned around and started walking back toward the hayfield. It had sensed something wasn’t quite right.

I drew my bow and watched it walk straight away, giving me no shot.

When it was about 20 yards away and in my only shooting lane, I let out a bleat to stop the buck. It turned its head back toward me and opened up a little bit of its left side.

I placed my 20-yard pin just behind the front shoulder, held my breath and released my arrow, which was followed by a smack.

The buck ran into the hayfield and out of sight, but I could see the arrow fletching protruding in front of its left hip.

I put my head on the tree and said, “Jon, what did you just do?”

Reaching for my phone, I tried to text my cousin that I’d just stuck the big ten, but my hands were shaking so badly I could barely type. It’s a good thing my phone has autocorrect!

After waiting in my stand for about 40 minutes, still filled with excitement and nerves, I climbed down and went straight to my truck.

I contacted my buddy and told him what happened, and he showed up about 30 minutes later.

We decided to look where I’d last seen the buck, and if we didn’t find good blood, we’d return in the morning.

We found some blood right away, but it was pretty sparse in the hayfield and in the buck’s path.

I began to get a sick feeling in my gut, wondering if I’d made a bad shot and only wounded the huge buck.

At the edge of the hayfield, we found a pool of blood where it appeared as if the buck had stopped just before crossing a creek.

We crossed the creek, then stopped and shined our flashlights into a clearing.

I was just about to call off the search, not wanting to push the deer further, when my buddy shined his flashlight to the left and said, “What’s that?”

I looked over and saw a white belly.

Immediately, I let out a sigh of relief, and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders!

There was no ground shrinkage when we walked closer to the buck. I knelt and grabbed its horns in disbelief that I’d just taken the buck I’d dreamed of for so long.

Now, I can’t wait to see the big ten on my wall!

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