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Catoosa County Countdown

Jason Henderson

Weeks of hard work lead Georgia hunter to first buck

By Jason Henderson

Being a novice hunter, I needed all the help I could get.

A couple of my hunting friends must've answered about a thousand of my questions, and I searched YouTube for videos about every aspect of deer hunting I could possibly think of.

I spent hours constructing a homemade ground blind, setting up trail cams, studying the photos and practicing relentlessly with a crossbow I'd traded for a few months before the 2013 Georgia season began.

All my practice was beginning to pay off as I became proficient out to 40 yards. But I decided there wasn't much room for error at that distance, so I set my ground blind up for what would hopefully end up being a 20-yard shot.

The evening before the hunt, I checked my trail cam and was excited to find a group of three bucks had returned to my hunting spot. It had been two months since they'd last shown up in my photos.

They'd walked past the blind just after daylight, following a group of five does. Now I was really fired up!

The night before the hunt, I could hardly sleep for knowing all my weeks of prepping could be paying off in a few short hours.

I awoke at 4 a.m. and was inside my ground blind by 5, scent-free and ready for the action to begin.

Just as daylight broke, a group of five does showed up like clockwork. They browsed for about 45 minutes before moving on. So far, so good.

After a 15-minute lull, a lone fawn came down the trail and browsed for about 20 minutes.

I was waiting patiently when the fawn alerted me that something was coming, hopefully the bucks. It made a quick exit, and I got ready.

Then I saw them! As the group of bucks approached, I tried to remain calm and remember everything I'd practiced. My goal was to make a clean and humane shot with the Horton 175, and now that plan was about to be tested.

Suddenly, the bucks veered off and were headed out of reach.

Instead of panicking and flinging a long, iffy shot, I was patient and remembered my trail cam photos. If the bucks did what the photos indicated, they'd turn and come back within range.

Hunting Stories Wanted!Soon, they cooperated, and, as if on cue, came back my way.

When the group was close enough to evaluate each animal, I picked out a 9-pointer and focused on it. Leading the group, it was ahead of a forkhorn and 6-pointer.

Eventually, it gave me the perfect opportunity for a broadside shot and I took it.

When I released the bolt, the buck leapt, then barreled through a thicket and stopped momentarily to look over its shoulder.

There was no way I missed, but I loaded the crossbow again in case I needed a follow up shot. I waited 15 minutes, then cautiously exited the blind.

I waited for a buddy to arrive and help me blood trail, which allowed additional time for the buck to expire.

There was no need for worry; we found my big 9-pointer a mere 30 yards from my blind!

It weighed 165 pounds on the processor's scale AFTER it had been field dressed. That's an awesome weight for this area of north Georgia.

What a memorable hunt, and what a great first buck!

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