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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog


By Mike Handley

Whitetail DeerIf you can imagine what it would be like to unlock the doors of a giant retail store on Black Friday, when the thrumming crowd outside is like crude threatening to burst a deep-water well’s rigging, you might understand why experienced antler rattlers always keep their rifles or bows within a wrist flick’s length.

Whether intimidated, self-assured or just plain cautious, a buck might take his sweet time investigating the mock brawl, but, more often than not, he’ll arrive in very short order. And woe be unto the hunter who has his hands full of noisemakers when the bull of the woods charges through that opened door.

I once thought that scenario was limited to rattling. Even the numerous times I was caught holding a grunt call or bleat can didn’t convince me of the need to have my bow or gun at the ready while uurrping or wah-ing.

The notion took full shape after talking with Dale Larson, one of the sharpest knives in the deer hunting drawer.

I suspect most hunters have heard of Dale. Long before he began writing magazine articles or appearing on television shows, he arrowed one of the largest whitetails ever to draw a breath. Bunches of them, in fact.

The Kansas behemoth that launched his career (and cost him the lease where he’d been managing for these kinds of bucks) was “Dagger,” the former world-record Irregular by compound bow -- taken three seasons before Mike Beatty’s Ohio bruiser knocked it out of the top spot.

Grunting lured the giant whitetail to his string on a rainy Nov. 7, 1998.

Dale glimpsed the buck when it was about 90 yards away and getting farther. Being a firm believer that one shouldn’t sound like a 500-pound buck-a-saurus with lungs the size of LaCrosse boot boxes, he first offered up a couple of soft “tending” grunts. By then, he’d lost sight of the deer he suspected might be the drop-tined buck he and his family had nicknamed Dagger.

A bit apprehensive, he tried again with as much gusto as he dared, and then he was ready to take only a story back home to his wife, Connie.

“As I was putting the call away inside my rain suit, I saw movement 25 yards in front of me. It was Dagger, and he was coming on a dead run,” Dale said. “Although I knew better from previous calling experiences to be ready for action, I was not prepared for the deer’s fast and aggressive response.”

Dagger ran and stopped directly underneath Dale’s stand, while the man’s bow was still drooping from its hanger.

Fortunately for our hero, the buck never looked up. Had Dagger seen or winded the hunter-turned-mime, or had it simply run away as fast as it had arrived, the story would’ve had a very different ending. It should’ve never walked those last 20 yards, its back to the hunting machine in the tree.

The rack tallied 264 5/8 inches without the spread. It’s now No. 3 among bow-taken Irregulars.

Post Rating


Bill Monroe
# Bill Monroe
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 1:12 PM
Great story and even better advise to all of us hunter-gatherers and professionals alike. There seems to always be some very sage words in most of the posted storys I've read and most who "look" will see them too.Great Buck too,always wanted to hook up with a wall hanger and I think one like Dagger would be the ( impossible) to top deer hunts for me.
# jonnyo
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 2:40 PM
something simular happenied to me but I wasn't ready - misty foggy day and I was grunting (testing-playing) with smaller bucks to see how load I could get when a nice 4-5 yr old buck on a full run out of nowhere appeared looking for a fight (I was not ready and really messed up on a nice hvy rack). The thing to remember is to start out soft then increase without over doing it. I'm so looking forward to this years bow hunt
# Danny
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:29 PM
had this happen to me with a doe can last year. An 8 point and a 6 point ran in really fast and stopped right under my stand. Fortunately they didn't look up either and the eight point is now at the taxidermist.
David Kimbrough
# David Kimbrough
Sunday, August 29, 2010 10:12 PM
Back in Dec.of '93, I was running really late getting in the stand,due to a problem at work. It was 21 degrees,and I didn't have time to get to the stand I planned to hunt that afternoon. I climbed a homemade climber I had on the side of a hardwood draw that crested at a 9yo pine thicket. The wind was in my face blowing straight into the pines and I was possitive that the deer were bedded on the other side of the draw in a known bedding area. I had just set down on the seat and took my HS Battle Bag and my True Talker and started a slow 5 minute rattle session with a few soft young buck grunts.
I wasn't at all ready for what was about to happen. Thinking that any buck in earshot would be coming up the draw,I heard a bit of rustling right behind me. Thinking it may be a squirrel,I didn't bother to look at first or grab my Marlin L.A. 44 mag.
I grunted a couple more times while still rattling the bag when I heard what sounded like a foot stomp. With the wind blowing straight into the direction of the sound,a deer was not what I expected to see when I turned to look.
As I glanced over my left shoulder,I spotted a HUGE bodied deer standing only 10 feet from the base of my tree. Due to the thick cedar that was at my back,I couldn't see the front third of the deer,so I grabbed the lever action and started to ease the hammer back just in case. Forgetting to pull the trigger as I was cocking to keep the gun from clicking,the deer heard the loud 'CLICK'and stepped forward enough for me to see the head. I was shocked to see a 145" ten point staring right at me,so close I could actually hear him breathing.
Knowing that I would NEVER get turned enough to get the scope on him,I decided to pick a clear lane about 30 feet in front of him and hoped he would walk on out without bolting. After what seemed like a 30 min.stare down,the buck dropped his head and took just enoough steps to end up right in the lane I had guessed on.
As I squeezed the trigger,I had no idea that I was taking a True Monarch. After a long night and an even longer day at work,I finally got on the bloodtrail and ended up with a 10yo.,305 pound,148 6/8" 10 point East Alabama monster.
It was the very first time I had ever tried rattling and grunting on this 49 acre spot I could hunt across the street from my house,and the outcome was not expected,and due to the way things played out that cold Dec. afternoon,I have tried to be a bit more prepaired when I get into the stand nowdays.
Have yet to have another experience like this since,but you all know how mature bucks are,they are ALL unpredictable,but sometimes they are just a bit curious,and ALWAYS EXCITING.

kris rine
Thursday, September 09, 2010 7:11 AM
me & my wife moved to alabama 60acers been here 2 yrs. soy bean feilds 300yrds. from me but still havnt got huge one yet like your buck & allwaqys lookin for pointers.

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