Hunter credits years of food plots and patience for his 15-point trophy.
By Gene Satterwhite
The starting place for my 2012 trophy deer is food plots, food plots and more food plots.
We’ve been planting food plots for 5 years on our lease, which is almost 500 acres. Over time, the food plots have gotten bigger, and so have the deer. Racks haven’t gotten taller or wider, but they seem to have more mass. I believe we grew my 15-point trophy its entire life. I even got him on camera in September of 2011.
I hunt with two other guys; the lease is basically a rectangle with a long strip cut out of one corner. Getting in has always been tough, and it seems we spook deer or move them around. That’s why I’ve started going in early. It seems to have made a difference. On opening day, I shot two with my bow, saw several bucks, and missed another really nice deer with my bow.
On opening day of firearms season, I was up at 3 a.m. to eat breakfast and load the truck and four-wheeler. I was hunting just off our large food plot where what hadn’t been eaten had been scorched because of our two-year drought. I set up a doe decoy just off the food plot but didn’t see anything all day.
I’d taken the week off to hunt, so as I walked out I stashed the decoy under some brush. I wanted to hunt as many days as possible the following week and planned to hunt the next day from a stand near the brush where I had put the decoy. Hiding it made sense.
On the way home, my brother called. He wanted to watch the West Virginia vs. Oklahoma football game, which meant I didn’t get to bed until late. When I woke late Sunday morning, the wind was blowing like crazy. I made a good decision not to hunt the stand I’d planned on hunting.
Monday, Nov. 19 was the third day of the firarms season. It began at 3 a.m. as I ate breakfast and put my lunch and gear in the truck. I was so excited about getting to the stand that I left a little earlier than before.
There was plenty of time for the drive and no pressure to rush to my stand. I had about a half-mile walk on a 4-wheeler trail and then another 200 yards into the timber toward the ridge my stand was on. The deer hadn’t been near that stand this year but had crossed near the stand in the past.
On the way in, I picked up the decoy and leaned my pack and rifle against the tree my stand was in. I set up the decoy about 50 yards out in front of my stand.
Next, I put out four scent bombs with doe pee, including one with doe estrous, in a line about 70 yards long to the west of the decoy. I hoped to catch the attention of any buck moving through the timber. On the way back to the stand, I smeared a gel-type doe pee on several trees.
It was a great morning with a light wind blowing in my face. There were no clouds, and it was chilly but not cold. I used a can call after morning excitement faded and the sun began to rise.
I was settling in for a long day of sending e-mails and texting from my stand. About 7:30 a.m. a deer snorted behind me. Assuming a deer had smelled me, I went back to texting unimportant hunting updates to friends.
Around 8:15, I saw movement through the brush west of me, but it was too thick to see what it was. I finally saw a deer but I couldn’t tell if it was a buck or a doe. It would take a step and watch the decoy for a few minutes, but I couldn’t see if it had antlers.
The deer kept moving closer over the next several minutes. When it raised its head, I saw the rack. It was 40 yards from me and I couldn’t take the shot because of the brush. It kept moving forward until it was actually in front of me, staring at the decoy.
The buck stared for a long time until he realized something wasn’t right. He dropped his head and turned as if to sneak out. I was watching one of the largest deer I had ever seen walk away. Then he turned into the brush. He wasn’t moving fast, but he was leaving.
I had to try something, so I grunted. The buck stopped and I looked through the scope to try to get a shot. I kept looking through the scope and then above it, moving the rifle and repeating the process in a frantic effort to get him in the scope. I finally saw the shoulder in the crosshairs and, Boom!
As I raised my head to listen and look, there was no movement or noise. I climbed down and walked over to the spot where I thought the deer was. It had dropped in its tracks.
I immediately called one of the guys on the lease who debated with me that I’d shot a monster, so I sent him pictures by text.
At the check station, I was in for a bit of comedy when two men there crawled all over the truck to look at my buck from different directions, as they counted points.
But, my hunting season wasn’t over.
On day two of Oklahoma’s holiday antlerless season, Dec. 22, I shot a large doe from another stand I had placed about 50 yards from where I’d taken the buck. On the way out, I replaced the card in my trail camera. After dropping the deer at the processor, I came in and looked at the pictures.
There on my computer screen was another surprise. The camera had snapped a picture of my monster buck about 40 minutes before I shot him.