Buckmasters Magazine

Pushing the Right Buttons

Pushing the Right Buttons

By Alex McCabe

When small talk doesn’t do the trick, it might be time to smash some bone!

As soon as I began collecting trail camera images of a large buck with a lopsided rack in 2014, I became obsessed with it.

I instantly set out to pattern “Loppy” by recording wind direction, temperature and barometric pressure every day on my calendar. Also, whenever I checked the cameras on that farm, I recorded times.

By October, I was convinced I could tag him.

Loppy was occasionally afoot during daylight hours, and I was able to figure out exactly where he was bedding every day. My only problem was that work — the fall crop harvest — kept me out of the woods for much of October.

On Oct. 27, a Monday, I looked at the weather forecast for the upcoming week. A significant cold front was supposed to blow in on Friday, and I knew that might be my best chance to get on that farm and kill the deer.

With that in mind, I decided to take off a couple of hours from work on that chilly Halloween morning.

The wind wasn’t right for me to go where I originally intended, so I chose another treestand about 200 yards from Loppy’s normal route to his bed. And because I wasn’t babysitting his usual trail, I decided to rattle at first light.

After I clashed my rattling antlers for a couple of minutes, a doe popped out of the woods and into a CRP field about 70 yards in front of me. I was glassing her, hoping to see a buck with her, when I heard something behind and on my downwind side.

My stand was at the edge of a steep bluff. I’d put it there with the idea that deer would not walk the slope behind me, that they’d always approach or pass in front of the tree.

When I located the source of the sound, it was none other than Loppy. He was walking about 30 yards straight below me, along the side of the bluff.

I tried to lure him up the bluff with a couple of aggressive grunts, but he wouldn’t even look my way. I continued with a snort-wheeze, but he didn’t bat an eyelash.

Soon thereafter, he was completely past me and out of sight, which is why I grabbed my rattling antlers and ground them together for about 10 seconds. After two minutes, I assumed he’d kept on going.

I was surprised when I saw him again at 30 yards, searching for the two bucks he’d heard sparring.

As I studied him, I noticed he’d broken off one of his dagger points on the right side, which had been about 10 inches long. He’d also sheared off the last upright on the left. For a split second, I thought about not shooting him.

But only for a split second.

After I decided I was going to take the shot if I could, Loppy tormented me by standing stock-still at 30 yards, obscured by a bunch of branches. After an eternity, he started coming closer.

Even at 20 yards, he was still behind brush.

My heart sank when he turned as if to leave, but he angled back and came even closer. I was terrified he would spot me drawing my bow, so I let him walk almost all the way past me before drawing and slipping an arrow through his lungs.

He ran about 40 yards, stopped, wobbled a bit, and then tipped over into the CRP. When I saw him fall, I lost it. Everybody in the county probably heard me shouting.

I called my dad immediately, as I always do after taking a deer.

“He’s not as big as I thought he was, but he’s still big,” I told him.

Boy, was I wrong.

When I finally calmed down, I got down from the tree and went to the buck. His body size was unbelievable, and I think that’s what made me underestimate the size of his rack in the photos I’d collected.

I thought he was wearing 180 inches when all the points were intact. I had no idea he was at 200-plus before losing almost 20 inches in fights.

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This article was published in the October 2015 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd