By Dylan Smith
The author’s seeming 10-pointer in fact has 16 scorable points adding up to a BTR tally of 182 2/8 Semi-Irregular. Dale Larson measured the Kansas giant.
“Things have to take a drastic turn if I’m going to take a good buck this season,” I thought as I headed to my hunting grounds on the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2005. It was the last day of my week-long vacation, and I was worn out from hunting hard through unseasonably warm weather. I had been fortunate, however, to have a few encounters with some nice bucks throughout the week.
I had passed on two 3 1/2-year-olds during the week and let my camera cost me a giant on the morning of Nov. 12. I was beginning to wonder if my decisions to pass would come back to haunt me. But what happened next turned my season around immediately.
As I pulled in to where I was going to hunt, I spotted a tractor working some ground in front of my intended stand. I was upset, but I quickly came up with a backup plan and was eager to get into another area just a couple of miles distant. I made good time getting to the other property, but I had a long walk ahead of me. As I hiked in, I had a good feeling about the hunt. I had set up several mock scrapes in the area earlier in the season. I had seen several small bucks working the scrapes, and I knew it was just a matter of time before the big boys moved in to take over the area.
The evening was much cooler than the days prior, and I was able to slip in undetected. The action started early as I had a 120-inch 8-pointer follow my drag rag covered in doe-in-estrus lure within 5 yards of me. I was in a natural ground blind (a fallen oak tree) that offered perfect concealment and just the right amount of openings.
Dylan Smith first appeared on our pages in 2004 with this wacky-racked, velvety Sunflower State brute.
I was daydreaming and watching the sun descend on that beautiful fall evening when I was suddenly snapped back to alert by the sound of crunching leaves. I heard the deer thrashing his antlers in the licking branch that hung over one of my mock scrapes well before I confirmed the noise with my eyes. I finally saw the deer and could immediately tell as he worked a scrape that he carried a giant 10-point frame.
It was at this point that I decided to hit the record button on my camera and position it where I anticipated a shot. I could hear my heart beating as I watched the magnificent buck make his leisurely approach. I was able to capture decent video of the deer, considering I had it on my tripod and was running it by myself. However, I was unable to get video as he tore up my mock scrapes and devoured the remains of a bumper crop of acorns that filled the draw. Had it been any other deer, I would have made an attempt, but I knew under these conditions it was too risky.
As I awaited the buck, I decided that the combination of the slight swirling wind and his slow approach would require an earlier shot opportunity. I am a scent-control freak. Even though I wear my scent-free suit and shower in scent-free soap, I wasn’t about to take any risks. At this point, the buck had veered a bit off course and was 25 yards away as he freshened up a real scrape. I took the opportunity to shift my camera to the left with my elbow as the buck had his head in the branches above.
The buck finally swung wide as I had anticipated, and when he stepped behind a very large oak tree, I drew my bow in hopes that I had spun the camera far enough to capture the shot. I let him clear the tree and take a few steps closer toward where I thought my camera was aimed. The buck swept up one last acorn, and as he stepped into my shooting lane just 15 yards away, I carefully hit my release. The arrow found its mark, and I miraculously captured the shot on film. The buck ran 35 yards, turned back toward me and tipped.
I was shaking uncontrollably after the shot. As I narrated what happened, I heard something else coming. As if I hadn’t had enough excitement, I looked up to see a mainframe 10-pointer with a drop tine heading straight for my buck, which lay dead. The camera was rolling and the footage was even shakier because I was a mess. The buck laid his ears back and did the usual stiff-legged walk as he approached the downed buck. He circled it downwind and then smashed into it and began thrashing my buck on the ground.
I decided that was enough and got up and approached the pair. I was hollering the whole way over, trying to get him off, but the buck was too far into the fight zone. He finally snapped out of it when I got to within 15 yards. It made for some great video, but I had seen enough of him tearing up my trophy. My buck is a mainframe 10-pointer with 16 scorable points.
I had video of this deer in velvet from the previous summer, and I ended up taking him more than 2 miles from where he was hanging out then. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason when hunting whitetails, and for that I owe one particular farmer big time!
-- Reprinted from the August 2006 issue of Buckmasters Magazine