By Richard Pilk
I’ve hunted white-tailed deer since I was 16 years old. I live in Elizabethton, Tenn., in the upper east part of the state. This area has some of the toughest hunting in the eastern United States, but I’ve harvested some fair-size deer in these mountains.
One year, my youngest brother said he’d found a great place to hunt in northwest Tennessee. Some of his wife’s family has about 400 acres in Houston County. We started making plans to hunt there during the upcoming muzzleloader season.
During my years of chasing whitetails, I’ve been taught you need lots of patience and scouting. Our first year of hunting on this farm netted my dad and brother a small buck each, which meant venison in the freezer. I came up with an empty tag that season. But I spotted a huge buck crossing a field about 300 yards from my stand. The deer had a good rack, but the horns were shaped different than any I’d ever seen.
Twelve months later, on opening morning, I headed back to the same stand an hour before daylight. This is where the harvesting of the buck of a lifetime begins.
The stand was on a small ridge next to a power line with lots of white oaks around. The trail had scrapes and rubs about 20 yards away. As daylight started to break, I heard a deer walk out of the power line into the woods. I hit my grunt call a couple of times and I heard the deer stop. I rattled antlers I usually carry with me. Sure enough, the deer came straight to my stand.
When I first saw the deer, I knew it was a buck. Then when I saw the size of his rack, I almost fell out of my stand. There was this buck standing 30 feet broadside, right in front of me. My heart was pounding so hard I’m sure the deer could hear it. I could see he was looking up the trail trying to find the two deer he heard fighting, when I was rattling my antlers, in his territory.
I was trembling as I took aim on the deer. I slowly squeezed the trigger and fired. I waited a few minutes before getting down from my tree stand and following the blood trail.
In just a short time, I located the deer. It had a very heavy rack with main beams that almost touched in front. It looks almost like a halo. I was sure it was the same buck I’d seen crossing the field the previous year.
An hour later I was at the check-in station with a 14-point, 170-pound, field-dressed deer. The antlers were later measured and scored 152 3/8 B&C.
I thank God for providing this buck and for the time I get to spend in the woods with my family and friends.