When C.J. Boynes dug deep and shelled out for his first bow last July, he probably didn't realize the taxidermy bill his new toy would later generate.
Not that it matters.
The Louisiana man was more than happy to double-down on his new passion, which was sparked by his young son's desire to give hunting a try. Both father and son shot their first bucks in 2019, which was before C.J.'s friend persuaded him to try bowhunting.
The friend was Jeff Reid, who had invited him to drive 14 hours in order to hunt in Missouri in 2019. Following his success, Jeff had no trouble convincing the new convert of the rewards of pursuing whitetails with the stick and string.
"I had never bowhunted before, but I knew it would give me the opportunity to hunt the peak of the rut in November instead of just 10 days during gun season," C.J. told Duncan Dobie, who's writing the story for Rack magazine.
During a pre-hunt visit, C.J. and Jeff erected stands, cleared shooting lanes and set out trail cameras.
"On the morning of Aug. 30, my phone sent me the first picture of an incredible buck, the one I would eventually harvest," he said. "After seeing that picture, I was really excited."
After some uneventful late-September outings, C.J. returned to Missouri on Thursday, Oct. 1, to hunt Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"Just as I was about to wind things up on Sunday, I got a call. The work I was supposed to do on Tuesday had been postponed until Wednesday, which gave me another full day to hunt. I knew that would probably be my last opportunity to go before returning in November for the rut, so I wanted to give it everything I had," he said.
The wind was ferocious Monday morning, and there was no deer activity whatsoever. C.J. returned to camp at midday and began preparing to leave. He'd lost his enthusiasm for the final afternoon's sit.
He changed his mind, however, and went to the opposite side of the farm around 3:30. He saw only turkeys for the next two hours.
He spotted a doe at 5:30, however, and then he saw a couple of young bucks a half-hour later.
"Around 7:00, a beautiful 140-class buck appeared and started making a scrape. It worked the scrape for a few minutes, and then it approached to within 23 yards of my stand. All sorts of emotions were running through my mind. If I decided to shoot it, it would've been a fine first bow buck."
While certainly juiced, C.J. hesitated long enough to see Door No. 2 open, revealing a doe in front of a way-bigger whitetail than the one that had tempted him.
Although he'd never drawn his bow while looking at a buck, target memory kicked into gear.
"As the new arrival stepped into range at about 22 yards, I released my first-ever arrow at a deer and double-lunged it," he said.
Only after he'd walked up to the animal did C.J. realize he'd shot the giant that had fueled his desire to spend as much time as possible in the Show Me State. Its Buckmasters score is 187 1/8 inches.
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