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The Unexpected Buck

RogersBy Robert R. Rogers

-- The 2008 Ohio archery season started out warm and the deer were not moving as much as we had hoped. Just walking to our stands made the sweat roll down our faces and backs. This was not the weather we had expected for central Ohio in late October.

Two friends and I had taken a chance and leased a property in Ohio. We had high hopes, but this weather was not what we bargained for. The area we hunted was beautiful central-Ohio farm land. The farmer grew soybeans on our property, and the surrounding properties had standing corn. We hunted three days toward the end of October with no luck. We all had jobs to get back to in Pennsylvania, so we headed home, vowing to return in early November.

John and I had been watching the Weather Channel, waiting for a cold snap in Ohio. Finally, a three-day stretch of cool weather was forecast. We packed our equipment and took the five-hour trip to Ohio. I felt good about or chances, but I still had my doubts. since we hadn't seen many deer on our first trip. I had done the research on this property, and I was beginning to feel guilty that I might have made a bad choice.

I began to ask myself, "Had the deer be over-hunted in this area?" "Do we have poor stand placement?" I had to get those thoughts out of my head. I knew we hadn’t hunted the property much and needed to give it a fair chance. After all, I had been hunting for 24 years, and I knew our luck could change in a matter of seconds.

We drove straight to our lease so we could make the evening hunt. The temperature was cool, and we hoped our evening would produce at least a sighting of a good buck. I didn’t see anything that night, but John had seen a nice 8-pointer near his stand, which was encouraging. I had also noticed two new scrapes near my stand, and I couldn’t wait for the next morning. I tossed and turn all night and woke up John before the alarm went off.

We set out early to get into our stands. It was a cold morning, perfect for getting the deer moving. John and I wished each other luck and parted ways to our individual stands.

As daylight began to illuminate the woods, I heard the familiar sound of a deer headed my way. I readied my bow, just knowing it would be a giant Ohio buck. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. As the deer got closer, it began to rub a tree about 40 yards out. I couldn’t see how large the buck was, but by all the noise it was making rubbing that tree, it had to be BIG!

The buck then continued down the trail that would take him past my stand at 22 yards. As it got closer, I could see antlers. Then the buck came into full view; it was a small 8-pointer. How could such a small buck make all that noise? I watched as the youngster walked by, hoping to see him again in about three years. As disappointed as I was, I couldn’t help a little smile. While it wasn't the buck I was hoping for, it was already a great morning. If I didn't see another deer, I would still be happy with that experience.

As the morning went on, I saw a lot of squirrels but no more deer. It was a beautiful day, with sunny skies and cool temperatures, and I hoped John had a morning that had been as exciting as mine.

We had agreed to stay in our stands until about noon, when we would meet back at the truck for a brief lunch before heading back to the stands for the rest of the day. It was about 10 a.m., and I had just got done ranging all the likely shot areas again. Just as I put my rangefinder away, I looked out in front of the stand and saw a big Ohio buck headed right for me.

I slowly grabbed my bow off its hanger and readied for a shot as the buck began to angle to the right.

It stopped broadside at 20 yards, so I pulled back my bow, picked out a spot in the heart/lung area and let the arrow fly. The buck turned and ran back the way it came, but I knew I had made a fatal shot. My thoughts were confirmed as I watched the beautiful buck fall within sight.

I stood in my stand going over what had just occurred. Replaying it in my head, I couldn't believe how quickly it had happened. I got out of the stand and walked over to the magnificent buck I had just taken. I looked at the giant and thanked the good Lord for my great fortune on this beautiful morning.

My thoughts then turned to John. Did he have as great a morning as I did? I hoped he had. I walked to the edge of woods where I could see John in his stand with my binoculars. John wasn't there. My excitement grew. Had John taken a big Ohio buck, too?

I headed that way, and John was out of his stand, looking at the ground. I thought for sure he had gotten a buck. When I got close enough, John told me he had enjoyed the best morning of his life. He saw two big bucks, one being the largest he had ever laid eyes on. He wasn't able to get a clear shot, so he let them both pass.

It was a great hunt for both of us. We took a chance with a lease in Ohio, and it turned out to be a great hunting opportunity for all of us. It's another great memory for friends to share, and we look forward to next year and hope to take another unexpected, but greatly appreciated, big Ohio buck.

Robert R. Rogers
Dallas, Pa.

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