By Seth McCray
Photo Courtesy of Seth McCray
Owning an archery shop doesn't allow much time for hunting. I have to pick and choose my windows carefully and plan well in advance. It is difficult to close shop during archery season. But bowhunting is my passion, and sometimes I just can't stay indoors.
In 2006, I set aside three days to hunt Missouri's Buchanan County. I saw several deer the first couple of days, one that I regretted not shooting. It would have been a nice addition to the wall, but I had seen bigger deer in that area.
The final morning of my hunt, Nov. 6, could not have been any more perfect.
There was a slight mist and fog in the cold morning air. The dampness allowed me to quietly sneak in and climb the tree I'd selected the previous evening. As luck would have it, there was only a faint breeze.
In the silent darkness of the timber, I settled into my stand and prepared for what would later be the hunt of a lifetime.
At 6:55, I offered up my first rattling sequence. After that, I used my grunt tube and can call to make a few subtle grunts and bleats. At 7:00, I heard deer trotting toward my stand. Two does came from near the creek about 300 yards ahead of me. They headed straight toward a scrape approximately 60 yards to my left. They serviced the scrape and lingered for a few minutes before heading back the way they'd come. I was glad to see them, and I had no objections to the natural scent they'd left in their wake.
Seth's son, Haden, shares a portion of his dad's cloud for a Kodak moment. Photo Courtesy of Seth McCray.
Ten minutes later, I blew three more short grunts and as many bleats with the can. I then waited for about three minutes before beginning another sequence. I used my grunt to imitate a buck chasing a doe and turned my can sideways, shaking it lightly to imitate a doe bleating while she was running.
After that, I immediately heard a deer behind me, walking through some very thick timber. I could tell that it was a buck, a nice one, but I could make out only part of its rack. I saw what I thought was a P-2, which I found out later was actually the P-3.
From the deer's large silhouette and the size of that one tine, I made the decision to shoot. I used the can for one more bleat and put it in my pocket.
The buck continued to come in to about 15 yards from my stand, shielded by a couple of deadfall trees. It stood there for a moment, looking for the doe, and then continued walking toward my stand.
I drew as it stepped out from behind the trees, and I concentrated on the vitals. Even though it was broadside, I still did not have a clear shot. The buck then turned and headed straight toward my stand, stopping at 7 yards, quartering toward me.
Compensating for the sharp angle, I held my pin low on its neck, just in front of the shoulder. As I was about to squeeze the trigger of my release, it looked up. I think it was just looking uphill, because it didn't appear to be nervous. I released my arrow and watched it bury up to the fletching.
As the deer turned to run, I saw my broadhead extending behind the opposite shoulder.
The buck ran about 70 yards before it hit the ground. I sat back down in my climbing stand, heart pounding and legs trembling, happy to have seen and heard the buck fall. I gave a sigh of relief, ecstatic that I'd probably arrowed a really nice 150- to 160-inch buck.
After regaining my composure, I managed to maneuver my stand to the ground. I headed in the direction the deer went down, beaming with the joy of a successful hunt. As I approached it, excitement filled me to the point where I could hardly stand or breathe.
I knew when I shot it that it was big, but the deer I found on the ground was simply enormous. I had concentrated so hard on good shot placement that I really had no idea the whitetail was wearing 20 points that would push the 200-inch mark. And its body was equally impressive; it field-dressed at 230 pounds.
Near hyperventilation, I did what all hunters in my position would do. I called my family and friends, babbling on with the same excitement a 3-year-old has on Christmas morning. To this day, I can hardly believe I was blessed with such a glorious buck. I know that bucks like this probably only come once in a lifetime, but I can guarantee that my passion for being in the woods has not waned. I'll always be out there, waiting to see if another great buck comes along.
Editor's Note: Last season was a banner year for Seth McCray. Remember his smile, because you'll see it again in next month's magazine - on the cover - with an even bigger Missouri whitetail.
Hunter: Seth McCray
Official Score: 175 6/8"
Composite Score: 190
-- Reprinted from the October 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine