Rack Magazine

Br’er Will and the Oak Patch

Br’er Will and the Oak Patch

By Ed Waite

Disciplining an employee who lives and breathes deer hunting by giving him a day off in mid-November, even without pay, is a bit like sending a child to his room with a game-laden laptop and a Popsicle.

After what happened to Will Durstine last year, his coworkers might be lining up for DLOs (disciplinary layoffs) in 2013.

During deer season, Will spends every hour possible in a deer stand. And since he works the second (afternoon) shift, that means almost every day.

But prior to Nov. 14, if the hunter from Acme, Pa., wanted to see the sunset from a tree, he’d have to wait for when he had a whole day off the clock.

Will had plenty of incentive for trading dawn for dusk, but the main reason he pined for an evening hunt was a time-stamped trail camera photograph of a buck with a very large and unusual rack.

That summer, Will and his best buddy, Mike Kemble, scoured parts of Summit County, Ohio, for prospective shooters.

“Many nights, we put more than 100 miles on one or the other of our trucks,” Will said. “We used a spotting scope mounted to a window, and we drove around glassing every deer we saw, recording the date, time and locations.

“We scouted out many good mature deer, including a few book bucks, but none more impressive than this exceptional 10-pointer we kept seeing near an oak flat.

“After obtaining permission to hunt it, we set up several trail cameras,” he added.

During the next couple of months, Will and Mike identified seven shooter bucks moving in and around that flat. They also narrowed down the best ambush sites.

“We identified what could be considered a pinch point, where most of the deer passed through when traveling between feeding and bedding areas,” Will said. “I set my stand up with the idea of taking the 10-pointer.”

He had a 28-yard encounter with the 5x5 on Halloween, but the deer wasn’t so focused on the two does it was dogging that it missed the heavy breathing hunter in a tree.

“I don’t want to say that the buck winded me, but it became very alert and veered away at the last minute,” he said.

“After that close call, Mike helped convince me to move my stand about 200 yards, closer to seven active scrapes,” Will added. “I went ahead and moved a couple of cameras, too.”

About a week after he’d set up the cameras, Will retrieved a photo of a monstrous 18-point buck working one of the scrapes a few yards from his stand.

“We had no idea where it came from,” he said, adding that he and Mike thought they’d seen all the bucks in the vicinity.

That photo changed everything.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Will said. “The 5x5 was still on my wish list, but I was definitely re-setting my sights on the bigger one.

“My only problem with hunting this buck was that our hours didn’t jive. It mostly frequented the area from mid-afternoon to dusk. I had to be out and headed to work by then,” he said.

On Nov. 14, however, Will was thrown into the proverbial briar patch when he was issued the not-so-dreaded DLO.

“After work on the 13th, I decided to drive my Jeep to the access point and spend the night in it, rather than go home, sleep a little while, and then make the long drive in the morning.

“I slept with all my gear piled around me,” he added. “It was a fitful night, but come morning, I was ready to spend the entire day in the stand.”

Will had been in his stand a scant 45 minutes when several deer approached his setup from downwind. They busted him almost immediately and began snorting and stomping.

And to think he’d been happy with the wind’s direction!

“Folks have told me that I shouldn’t use any scent products once in the stand, but I figured I must have perspired on the way in, so maybe a few squirts wouldn’t hurt,” Will said. “I got out my bottle of scent-killer and applied a generous amount over my clothing and exposed skin.”

Will DurstineWithin 10 minutes of the spray-down, several more deer came in and walked right under Will’s stand, which raised his hopes considerably. By midday, he’d seen about 30 deer.

He saw the next one about a quarter ‘til 2:00.

“I might have been sleeping, daydreaming or just plain not paying attention when I suddenly heard the rustle of leaves very close,” he said. “I turned slightly and saw this monster pawing at one of the scrapes only 7 yards from my tree.

“I had no idea from where or when the buck came, or how it got so close without me hearing anything,” he continued.

“I wanted to film the shot, so I quietly busied myself with aiming the camera, turning it on and then getting my crossbow up to my shoulder, which took more than a few seconds,” he said. “I might have regretted all that had the deer winded or heard me.”

Will saw his Rage broadhead enter exactly where he’d aimed, even if the camera failed to record the moment.

The buck kicked and took off running, only to skid into the leaves 38 yards into its retreat.

“It was an awesome feeling as I sat there replaying the scene over and over in my mind. The buck was everything I’d expected it to be and more,” he said.

Will had no trouble recruiting friends to help him get the massive deer out of the woods and to Mike’s house.

“It drew a crowd, too!” he beamed.

Hunter: Will Durstine
BTR Score: 204

– Photos Courtesy Will Durstine

This article was published in the November 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd