By Mike Justice
-- Central Virginia bucks can be elusive, having learned to take advantage of the many sanctuaries of this suburban area. My good friend Ronnie Neisz has taken quite a few trophy bucks in the past 20 years, but no other deer captured our attention and caused us more aggravation than the one in this story.
Ronnie and I have deer hunted together for more than 20 years. We have always relied on our neighbors and on good old gossip floating around the country store for tips about big buck sightings. When we inquired for permission to hunt a 40-acre block of land and the landowner told us about a trophy buck he had seen on his property, we paid attention.
We scouted and tried to get an edge on the buck while also learning the land. When the season arrived, we hunted what we thought were the buck’s travel routes from bedding to feeding areas. We saw plenty of deer but never got a close encounter with the elusive buck. Finally, we decided that we might be putting too much pressure on the area and opted to give it a break now and then.
Later in the season, while driving in on a rainy day, we finally got a good look at the buck. Through the binoculars, it seemed to be a high-racked 10-pointer with a spread of about 20 inches. Although there’s a good chance we could have put on a stalk and taken the buck, Ronnie and I agreed that wasn’t how we wanted to take this animal. We had spent too much time in the woods hunting it to take it out in the open after spotting it from the truck.
We hunted there selectively for the next four years and only saw the buck twice, although we heard about enough sightings that we knew it was still around. It was always seen near the property, and we were amazed at how it never seemed to leave its home range.
We agreed that the old buck only showed himself at night and that our only chance to take it would be during the rut. On Dec. 15, 2007, Ronnie got our first real shot opportunity at the buck.
It was another rainy day when the landowner stopped Ronnie as he was headed home early from hunting another property. He told Ronnie the elusive buck was hanging out in his field, fighting another buck over a hot doe. Already wet, Ronnie decided to give it a try.
There was no point in trying to come up with an elaborate plan. With the run on, all bets were off and the buck would either come by or it wouldn’t. Ronnie camped out under a cedar tree along the landowner’s field, and it wasn’t long before a doe showed up and began to feed in front of him. Not long after, a tall 10-pointer stepped out and made its way toward the doe.
The buck was out of comfortable shotgun range but was closing, so all Ronnie had to do was wait. That was until a wide-racked 8-pointer showed up — then the fight was on! My friend watched in amazement as the fight raged for about five heart-pounding minutes. When it was over, the 10-pointer had chased off his rival and closed to within 50 yards of Ronnie’s ready shotgun. He didn’t miss.
Upon recovery, Ronnie was awestruck to see it was the buck we had pursued for four hard hunting seasons. It has 10 points, a 19 3⁄4 inside spread and 26-inch main beams.