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Don’t Try This at Home

Troy SkinnerBy Troy Skinner

-- On Nov. 7, 2008, I was hunting in the afternoon, hoping to get a shot at a big 8-pointer I knew was in the area. It was a mainframe 6-pointer with two kickers on its left side. I figured the brow tines were at least 10 inches long. I had some trail camera pictures of it during the summer when it was still in velvet, and it was bigger than anything I had taken in the past. I got into my treestand at 3 p.m., and right at about 4:30 it was like someone had flipped a switch. There were deer moving all around me.

At 5:25 I saw a deer cross a sewer ditch that had just been installed the previous year. It was about 125 yards away on the other side of a thicket. I put the binoculars on it and saw instantly that it was the big deer I was looking for. I tucked the binoculars away so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep looking at the rack.

Next, I grabbed my grunt tube and hit it four or five times, and the buck turned and headed my way. I was tucked just inside the edge of the woods and hoped the buck would get within shooting range before I passed out from breathing so hard.

When it got to about 30 yards, it was hesitant about entering the woods. There was a small opening between some limbs, so I let my arrow fly. I never saw the arrow hit, but I heard a very distinctive "whack." The buck turned and bolted. Within 30 yards, it was stumbling; at 65 yards, it was dead.

I immediately telephoned my dad to tell him I’d just killed the big buck we’d been hunting. He was almost as excited as I was.

With full dark about 30 minutes away, I was in a big hurry to get the deer out of the woods. I finished field-dressing it just before last light and decided to shorten the drag by pulling my truck closer on the new sewer ditch. It was much muddier than I thought, so I put the truck into 4x4. Then I got reckless. I was so excited that I ran right into a 4-foot-wide ditch that was about 3 feet deep. I buried the front of the truck, and the back tires were barely touching the ground. There was no way I was getting out without help.

I called my friend, Mark, who also has a 4x4. Luckily, he was in the area. He went to an auto store, bought a tow strap and came to rescue me.

After getting the truck out of the ditch, we retrieved the buck and put it in my truck. We then went to the house to admire it and take pictures.

Since the overnight temperature was going to be in the mid- to high 30s, I thought I’d just hang it and let it cool. My wife didn’t think our cul-de-sac neighbors would appreciate a buck hanging from the crab apple trees in our front yard, so I decided to use an old TV antenna at the back corner of the house.

I climbed up about 15 feet and threw the tow strap around part of the antenna so we could get the deer high enough that the coyotes couldn’t get to it. Mark and I then tried to hoist him up, but it was too heavy. "No problem," I thought. "I’ll just hook the strap to the truck bumper and have the buck hoisted in seconds."

Everything went great for about the first 8 seconds — until I heard Mark yelling my name, "Troy! Troy!"

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the antenna falling straight for the truck. My options, few as they were, flashed through my head. I couldn’t drive away from it and didn’t want to get out and have it land on me, so I just buried my head as low as I could. Luckily, Mark yanked on the antenna as hard as he could, nudging it enough to land across the top of the tailgate, barely missing the cab.

All in all, my adventure cost me a few hundred bucks, but it was well worth — the big 8-pointer was mine!

It had a 17-inch inside spread and dressed out at 190 pounds. I haven’t had it scored yet, but I’ve been told it’ll go between 125 and 130 inches, which isn’t bad for a mainframe 6-pointer.

Troy Skinner
Terre Haute, Ind.

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