By Kyle White
-- I picked up bowhunting about three years ago and really got into it last season. I missed plenty of does and was frustrated at times, but I certainly love the challenge.
This year, my cousin invited me to go to Indiana with his family to his mother-in-law's farm. I jumped at the chance and was ready for a full week of hunting in the Midwest. The 13-hour ride to Lake County, Ind., was a long one, but thinking of those big bucks kept me awake.
The first morning I went out to a ladder stand my cousin had put up a few years ago. I sat for several hours in 32-degree weather (unbearably cold for this Bama boy) and did not see the first deer.
For the next few days, we hunted with one of my cousin's friends in Warsaw who is a "big buck slayer." Seeing all of his mounts gave me confidence there was a buck out there just for me. He gave me a few tips and assured me that on Oct. 27, the rut would be in full swing.
We hunted that afternoon and headed back to Lake County the following morning. The 100-acre farm was full of corn and soy beans surrounded by CRP fields and a 100-acre game preserve. We hung a ladder stand at the corner of the property line and the preserve.
Even though we had just hung the stand, I decided to hunt out of it that afternoon. To my surprise, I saw a lot of deer, including what I thought was a nice 8-point buck, which was way out of range. I was excited about this stand and decided to use it the following morning in case the buck came back.
I got in the stand at around 6:30 a.m., and not 15 minutes later, I was surrounded by small bucks chasing does all around me and back into the preserve. Then I noticed three does pop out of the CRP field and glare at the corn. Suddenly, I heard what sounded like an elephant crashing through the corn. The does were startled, and I knew what was about to come out - I just didn't know how big it was.
The buck stepped out about 75 yards away, and I was blinded by antlers. My heart dropped as the buck turned the other way to chase the does. I grabbed my grunt call and started hammering out every noise it could make. The buck never looked up. Finally, the buck got behind the does and pushed them my way. I stood up, grabbed my bow and got ready.
The does worked their way down to a tree that was 60 yards away from my location. I guessed the distance to the buck to be about 50 yards. I drew back and let the arrow fly. It missed about half a foot low. To my amazement, the buck stopped and looked the other direction. I knocked another arrow, aimed a bit higher and sent the arrow through the buck.
I could tell that my shot was good as the buck trotted away for about 75 yards and hit the ground. This is when I started hyperventilating. I could not believe it. I waited until I was certain the buck was not going anywhere to climb down and look for it.
I cannot really explain how excited I was when I walked up to this 18-point buck with an 8-inch drop tine. I called my dad back in Alabama and tried to tell him what happened, but all he could hear was me stammering, "Monster Buck!"
We took the buck to a check-in station and people surrounded the truck, wanting to get a look at it. We knew a conservation officer at the station who measures for Boone and Crockett. He greenscored the buck at 184 3/8. It was unbelievable! It certainly shocked everyone when I told them this was my first deer with a bow. Hunters told me that I was now ruined, and I should quit hunting.
I know how blessed I was to have this opportunity to take an impressive buck and it makes me want to hunt more ... and I will.
Kyle Patrick White