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The Ghost of the County

Jonathan Young

Second-year bowhunter works hard for unique trophy

By Jonathan Young

I've only been a bowhunter for two seasons, and last year I successfully harvested my career-best buck, a 10-pointer. This season I was successful again, but with a totally different type of trophy buck.

My father and I had watched a beautiful piebald deer for a couple of years, since it was a buttonhead. The problem was it always stayed with a group of does in a thick cutover, about 400 yards from the landowner's house.

Out of respect, we never gun hunt near the owner's house, so until I started bowhunting, this particular deer was untouchable.

One afternoon I was running late to my hunt, and hurried to my stand. As I rounded a curve, I was surprised to see the piebald buck standing in the middle of the road.

I stopped and watched it go on its way. That's when I decided I had to have it!

I continued to my stand and enjoyed my evening hunt. When I was driving out, I saw the buck again. Illuminated by my headlights, it looked like a ghost through the fog, so I nicknamed it Ghost.

The next day, I returned to scout the area for deer trails. There was only one decent tree in the cutover to hang a stand on, a large oak on the edge of a waterway separating two soybean fields.

I hung the stand about 30 feet high and let everything calm down by staying out of the area for two weeks. Finally, it was time. I sprayed down my boots with Tink's and walked to my stand with the wind in my face, arriving at my stand around 5 p.m.

It wasn't long before I heard movement on the ground beneath me, but the cutover was so thick, I couldn't tell what it was. Fifteen minutes later, whatever it was had moved on.

I'd been catching the piebald buck on my trail cameras between 5 and 6 p.m. Around 6:20, I stood to stretch my legs and saw a white spot on the opposite side of the field, 450 yards away.

There it was! This was it!

The piebald and two does were walking down the same path I'd walked in on. They stopped every once and a while to eat soybeans.

The deer were so far away, I had time to take cell phone pictures and post them to Facebook!

But when the piebald was about 200 yards out, it started to cross a waterway which would lead it into a different field.

Thankfully, it stopped to eat some wildflowers and eventually turned back to the path heading toward me.

I couldn't believe this is actually going happen. Then, I began to worry.

I'd planned on the buck coming out from behind me, but it didn't so the wind was blowing straight to it.

My father always said there's a different thermal when a stand is 25 feet high, and the deer on the ground can't smell you. Well, he must've been right, because all three deer were coming straight to me and they were clueless.

Hunting Stories Wanted!Forty minutes later, the does crossed the waterway at 60 yards. The piebald stayed on the path for a few extra paces, then turned to follow the does.

As it crossed the waterway at 52 yards, I drew my bow and stopped it with a doe bleat, then released an arrow. I heard it smack, saw the buck kick and watched it pile up twice within 50 yards before it went down in the middle of the field.

I let it lay there for another 45 minutes, then got down to check. There was a great blood trail through the field of soybeans which were growing about belly button high.

As I closed in on where I'd watched it go down, I was shocked to look up and see the piebald standing there looking back at me.

I tried to ease back without jumping it, but when I did, and it took off to the corner of the field and disappeared into the thick cutover.

I backed out and went to my dad's place to recruit help from him and my brother. We waited another two hours to let the buck expire before returning to the search. 

We had to crawl on our hands and knees through thick cutover to go after this deer. It had entered the thick stuff, then hooked right, making a big circle before falling for good about 40 yards from the corner of the field. That's where we found it.

I'm looking forward to sending in many more great hunting stories, but it will be hard to beat this one!

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