By Ed Waite
Photos Courtesy of Kevin Woods
Kevin Woods called his dad, Noah, on Saturday, Oct. 18, to see if he wanted to hunt that afternoon at the farm they've come to know well during the past decade.
"He was excited to go, so I told him to get ready and I would be over to pick him up pretty soon," said Kevin.
Ohio's 2008 archery season was well underway. The 500-acre Warren County tract was littered with big buck sign. Not only that, but Kevin's trail camera also proved there were some very nice bucks traveling through the farm, which is divided equally between timber and crop fields.
Aside from Kevin's family, only two other hunters had permission to hunt there, and both were gun hunters, so the farm was ripe for the father and son bowhunters.
Kevin arrived at his father's home at 2:00, and they were soon on the road again to the farm.
"The weather was pretty good, maybe 40 degrees, and partly cloudy skies made for good hunting," he said.
"We had a dozen stands situated around the farm. On the way there, Dad and I decided which ones we would hunt," Kevin continued.
"I chose a 15-foot-high ladder stand on a beech tree. It was in a good location. I'd seen a bunch of deer from it over the years. Dad chose a stand about 150 yards from there."
Both hunters were in place by 3:30.
"On my end, there was absolutely no activity. I didn't even see a squirrel," said Kevin.
"Then things got worse. The wind swung around until it was completely wrong, blowing headlong into the area where the deer usually bedded.
I was bummed and decided to get down and head back to the truck. It was 6:00, too ... almost prime time."
Kevin prepared his gear and even went as far as to tie his drop cord to the bow in order to lower it to the ground. But, suddenly, he saw movement in the direction of his father's stand. A closer look revealed a buck at about 80 yards. He was unable to count points, but it sure looked like a shooter.
"I decided maybe I was a bit hasty with my decision to leave," Kevin said.
"About 20 minutes later, I spotted two does 40 yards away. Then I saw two more deer 20 yards beyond them.
"It was very thick in there. I couldn't decipher what the last two were, but I ranged them at 63 yards," he added.
"The leaves were still on and because of that, it was getting dark in the woods. The wind had picked up, too, causing me to once again consider heading back to the truck.
"Frustrated, I turned toward the tree. That's when I saw this huge buck just 22 yards away. There was a button buck with it. I tried to lift my bow as they were looking at a nearby alfalfa field," Kevin said.
"They weren't doing anything except standing there. Maybe they were waiting for the darkness so they could move safely into the alfalfa. Next thing, I saw two more button bucks approaching. The big buck started to chase off the newcomers, and my heart sank. I thought I'd lost any chance for a shot.
"Just as suddenly, however, the big buck stopped, turned back into my shooting lane at 18 yards and started to thrash a small beech tree. I was ready; the bow was ready. My arrow was nocked, and the buck was quartering toward me.
"I was very worried the little bucks would wind me, so I focused on the big guy's shoulder and touched the release. From the buck's reaction, I was sure it was a good shot.
"It ran about 60 yards, and then dropped over the edge of a 30-foot bank and down into a creek bed. I didn't know whether it ran or fell down the bank, but then I could hear its hooves kicking at the rocks. It didn't sound as if it was getting any farther away.
"When it was finally quiet, I gathered my stuff, got down and went to the truck to wait for Dad to come out of the woods," said Kevin.
Noah arrived about dark, and the two decided it would be safe to go back in and see what they could find.
"We went back to the stand and I directed Dad to the point where I'd made the shot. There was no blood to be seen right there, so I had him head to the point where I last saw the deer. I went over to him and shined the flashlight into the ravine. We could see the body of the buck lying in the rocks.
"As I clambered down the steep bank, I was suddenly overcome with fear. I could see only one side of the rack. I was afraid the other side had broken off during the buck's fall. I quickly grabbed the head and pulled it up to discover the lower half of the rack, which had been buried in the creek. I also soon discovered that most of the rack was still in velvet and very dark.
"We field-dressed the deer, and then we dragged it along the creek for about 300 yards before we got to a place where we could get the four-wheeler down there. It took at least an hour and a half to move it that distance.
"By the time we got to the check station, it was pretty late. No other hunters were there. Even the kid working the station had probably never been in the woods, so he was totally unimpressed. I had to wait until the next day to wow my friends," Kevin added.
Hunter: Kevin Woods
Official Score: 173 6/8"
Composite Score: 193 5/8"
-- Reprinted from the August 2009 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.