By Mark Hughes
Chris Robbins' 2006 buck is runner-up to the Indiana state record (among Irregulars in the BTR's compound bow category). Photo Courtesy of Chris Robbins
Every year, Chris Robbins schedules his weeklong vacation to coincide with Indiana's whitetail rut. In 2006, instead of bowhunting his usual spot in Jackson County, Chris hunted with friends Mike Palmer and Bill Georges at a military base north of Columbus.
Most years, the base is opened to archers four days a week, Monday through Thursday. By the end of the hunt on Thursday, four days into his vacation, Chris had seen only two deer. On Friday, he returned to similar conditions in Jackson County.
On his way home from the woods Friday night, Chris called his longtime hunting buddy Brad Shepherd. He had been in touch with Brad throughout the week, so Brad knew things had been slow. He wound up inviting his pal to spend the rest of the weekend hunting with him in Switzerland County.
Chris drove to Brad's house early Saturday morning. They arrived at the farm an hour later, parked and donned their scent-proof clothing.
They stopped at the edge of the woods so Brad could pull out his drag rag and douse it with fresh scent. Brad's was the first stop, and Chris took over the drag rag from that point. He stopped to hang it in a tree about halfway between their stands - in the middle of a ravine separating their ridges. It was a half-hour before dawn when Chris reached his stand.
At daybreak, Chris saw a few does and a couple of small bucks. An hour later, he saw another deer approaching from Brad's direction. It was following a fencerow about 80 yards behind Chris' stand. When the deer stopped to check a scrape at one point, Chris realized it was an enormous buck with a forked drop tine on the left side.
But the buck never reached the salivating hunter's shooting lane. It turned, eventually jumped the fence and disappeared into a cedar thicket.
The Robbins buck is spectacular not for any one characteristic, but for the hefty sum of its 20 parts. But then its forked drop tine is way cool!
Photo Courtesy of Chris Robbins
Around 11:30, Chris and Brad returned to the truck to go get some lunch and compare notes. Turns out, Brad had the giant buck in front of him at about 50 yards or so, but it never offered a shot. Brad had also seen a 130-inch 8-pointer that he had no trouble dismissing.
After lunch, the two drove around the farm roads to see if any of the locals had taken deer. They returned to their stands later that afternoon.
During the last hour, Chris heard a deer approaching. It was a doe, and she wasn't alone. A shooter buck was following in her footsteps.
Slowly reaching for his bow, Chris kept his eyes on the doe 10 yards directly behind him. When he chanced a look back at the buck, it was standing broadside in the 20-yard shooting lane, most of its head behind a tree.
At that point, Chris had no clue he was about to take a poke at the drop-tined buck.
Still worried the doe might bust him, but convinced he wasn't going to get a better opportunity, Chris drew his bow. Sure enough, the doe turned and ran past the clueless buck. A moment later, an arrow stung it.
Chris heard the buck stop at the bottom of the ridge about 40 yards away, but he had no idea what happened next. It could've walked away, or it could've fallen. So he hung his bow and waited for dark.
When he got down from his stand, Chris walked to Brad's ridge. The two returned to the truck to stow their gear, shrug out of some clothing and collect a bigger flashlight.
Soon after they started the search, Chris found his drenched arrow. They followed the blood to the bottom of the ridge where Chris had last heard the deer. They stopped there and scanned the area with the flashlight. The buck was lying 20 yards in front of them.
Brad gave Chris a high-five as they started toward the deer. But then Brad suddenly took off running. He reached the buck, dropped to his knees and grabbed the head. Chris rushed in on the other side of the deer to see what had gotten into Brad, who offered up another high-five, proclaiming: "You got the drop tine!"
Chris actually felt a little bad that he had taken the deer that Brad had been hunting. Being a true hunting buddy and close friend, Brad assured Chris that if he hadn't been given the opportunity, he was glad that Chris had. After being relieved by those comments, the adrenaline kicked in and Chris had a delayed reaction of buck fever. He says that he was barely able to function throughout the field-dressing.
After tagging the deer, Chris and Brad dragged it to the truck. Next stop was the landowner's house.
Hunter: Chris Robbins
Official Score: 204"
Composite Score: 224"
-- Reprinted from the September 2008 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine