Ethan Vinson might forever rue the day he chose not to sit in a ladder stand behind his father’s house in south Georgia.
He suspected it the moment the telephone rang — too early on a Sunday morning to be a casual call and hello. He knew it the moment he heard the smile in the voice on the other end of the line.
“How’s your stomach feeling?” his dad, Don, asked.
“Not bad, but I have a feeling it’s about to get worse,” Ethan answered. “What did you shoot?”
Moments later, Ethan was driving the 20 miles to see for himself and to help Don get it out of the woods.
The hunt had been short and sweet, from a new setup only 200 yards from the 53- year-old chiropractor’s home in Dixie, which is about halfway between Thomasville and Valdosta.
Don has owned and hunted those 560 acres in Brooks County for 19 years. He has 15 ladder stands from which to choose, but the 21-footer he visited on Nov. 14, 2010, was the one Ethan was supposed to christen. His son had begged off, however, complaining of a stomach ache.
The stand was newly situated in a swampy hardwood bottom between pine plantations. Don moved it there after finding some fresh scrapes and rubs.
“It’s a real neat transition area, the perfect pinch point,” he said.
Don had loaned his rifle, a 7mm Mag, to his daughter, Chelsey, so he carried his son’s .270.
“It was just a fluke that I was out there sitting in that stand,” he said.
About 20 minutes after daybreak, Don saw a couple of skittish does.
“A small screwy-horn buck had been worrying them inside the thicket,” he said.
Fifteen minutes later, an enormous buck slipped into the bottom from behind Don and chased the younger one back into the thick stuff. The deer was far bigger than any of the bucks Don’s six trail cameras had photographed.
At that point, another nice buck — a 140-inch 9-pointer that Don wound up shooting later that season — arrived. Soon afterward, it and the big one squared off for a rumble.
“One of those does was hot, no doubt,” Don said.
The bucks were less than 10 yards apart, circling each other, walking sideways on stiff legs, and they were only 20 yards from Don, who wasted no time in shooting the larger 17-pointer, which never made it back into the pines.
Don usually remains in his stand for at least a few minutes whenever he shoots a deer. But after admiring the fallen buck’s nearly 200-inch rack through his riflescope, he forgot all about his self-imposed protocol and nearly slid down the ladder.
The big whitetail stole his breath.
When it was taped at the Buckmasters Expo the following summer, Don’s buck became No. 7 among Georgia’s rifle-taken Irregulars.
Hunter: Don Vinson
BTR Score: 196 7/8
— Mount Photo by Mike Handley
— Photo Courtesy of Don Vinson (With Kids)
This article was published in the July 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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