By Tim Wadkins
Tim Wadkins of Portage, Ind., displays two incredible 13-pointers. The one at right scored 166" as a Typical and was taken with a blackpowder rifle. The buck at left was taken with a shotgun and scored 178 2/8" as a Semi-irregular.
Photo by Tim Toth II
In 1990, a friend helped my brother, Bill, and I acquire permission to hunt private land in Warren County, Ind., about 120 miles from home. The place has been well worth the 2 a.m. wake-ups and the long drives. Before that, we'd endured the crowds on public ground.
I've never had a problem taking my share of deer, but it wasn't until a decade later that I scored a true wallhanger.
In 2001, during a very foggy opening morning of firearms season, I heard a buck grunting inside a nearby thicket. Visibility was very low, but when I caught a glimpse of the deer, I noticed that the tip of its right main beam had a distinctive upward curl. The buck was hot on the trail of a doe - behind a veil of brush and fog. The only way I would have a shot was if the doe lured her suitor out of the cover.
Fortunately for me, she did just that!
Photo by Tim Toth II
When the doe stepped from the thicket and into an open bean field at 35 yards, the buck was right behind her. They'd gone another 40 yards before I could grunt with my mouth to stop them. It worked, and when the buck put on the brakes in the wide open, my .50-caliber muzzleloader belched its own fog. That was my first real trophy, a typical 13-pointer that measured 166 on the BTR scale.
The next year, something changed in me. After finally taking a big buck, I was more confident, and I did not put any added pressure on myself. Also, with Indiana's new limit of one buck per season, I started passing on a lot of bucks I generally would have taken. The bucks that I did take over the next three years were very nice specimens.
In 2005, my vacation time spanned the last week of archery season and the first of firearms. The end of bow season usually offers a lot of pre-rut activity, but warm and windy weather kept deer movement minimal.
Opening morning of firearms season was uneventful, too, but at 11 a.m., while I was daydreaming in my stand, I heard something behind me that sounded like a squirrel.
I turned around to see a monster buck cutting across the corner of the pasture. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a shooter (by my upgraded standards). When it was at 25 yards, I leveled my 12 gauge at its shoulder and touched off the shot. The buck went about 40 yards before falling hard.
It seemed that Bill and my girlfriend, Christine, could not get over to my stand fast enough to see what had caused me to spend a sabot so early in the week. I was very excited, too, and I couldn't wait for them to get there.
Celebrating alone isn't nearly as much fun.
I feel very fortunate to have harvested two exceptional bucks in the past five years. I'm also glad that my brother has shared these experiences with me, since he's the reason I became so passionately involved in hunting.
Lead Photo reference
Buck at left:
Official Score: 178 2/8"
Compound Score: 196 3/8"
Buck at Right:
Official Score: 166"
Compound Score: 182"
-- Reprinted from the July 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine