With pressure mounting at my go-to wildlife area, I decided to make a switch for the next morning and try a pair of spots hoping for “9 Lives”, “Sweet 16″, or some other big buck to come cruising by.
I dropped Andrew off at a set I call the Double Trunk Tree, and he had a decent set seeing a pretty solid buck that was in a cruising trance and unresponsive to calls.
I humped it in another half mile and climbed a crooked tree in a hedgerow between standing corn, cut beans, and a couple CRP fields. With a major woodlot to my north and a sizable woodlot to my south, the deer had only 2 options to get from one to another. My hedgerow or the other hedgerow 300 yards in front of me.
With the decent success I had rattling and grunting the past several outings, I was pretty aggressive with my calling. However, after my 3rd sequence at 8:15, I had failed to rouse any curiosity from any nearby deer. Around 8:30, I picked the antlers back up and tickled them together again. Within 2 minutes, I caught movement in the corner of the CRP field and could see a decent buck standing there. My first instinct was that he was just a little too small, and I reached for my video camera instead of my bow. At that instant of decision, the buck turned broadside for a brief moment and I was able to make a positive ID on the deer – “9 LIVES”!!!! The mark on his shoulder blade was unmistakeable. I WILL shoot that buck! My first experience of on-the-hoof antler shrinkage due to these deer’s larger body sizes than I’m used to in the South.
Without me having to coax him towards my location with an extra grunt call or otherwise, he started my direction at a steady pace and within probably 30 seconds he had closed the gap from 80 yards to just 10! I got the video camera swung into position, grabbed my bow, drew smoothly back as he was closed within 40 yards (look at the hung stand in the picture above and you’ll see why I didn’t want to risk drawing when the buck came a lot closer – high risk of being silhouetted), and prayed he would not hang up before coming broadside at close range. The video does a better job of telling the story than I can typing…
(Arrow says 1″ down so I know precise location where that specific arrow hits at my 25 yard top-pin dead-on distance. I do this on all my hunting arrows. It doesn’t say 1 down.)
As my text message said to all my hunting buddies, “9 Lives just ran out of lives!”. Maybe 50 yards and he was down for the count. A close opportunity resulting in a perfect shot and an awesome conclusion to my quest for a solid Ohio public land buck!
After my nerves settled down, I called dad to fill him in on the events of the morning and then I climbed down to lay my hands on him. He was exactly what I thought he was. 130″ 10 point with a broken G1…no surprises. I am guessing that he was a 3 year old buck and he definitely bore the wounds of a previous hunter’s errant shot as I recovered a NAP 3-blade Bloodrunner from his shoulder blades – presumably an injury sustained during the 2012 archery season.
I climbed back in the stand to absorb all that had transpired and was quickly disrupted by a small buck dogging a doe through the CRP.
And then a BIIIGGGG buck came through 30 seconds later. Thank God he didn’t come within bow range or I would have been SICK! What a buck – appears to be a solid 140-145″ 10 point.
A screen capture so you can appreciate how nice this buck was…
What a great climax to my pursuit of a nice public land buck in Ohio! I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I knew the buck from trail camera work. I hadn’t been busted by a single deer all year long as I’ve played the wind religiously. I’ve been on bucks all year long. I passed some nice deer waiting for a great deer. I was thankful to have made a clean kill. It was done the hard way (and yes the tote out was miserable!!! 1.15 miles according to Google Earth), and it was sweet sweet sweet when it came together.
(Yes, totally legal – observe temporary tag on antlers and already validated my either-sex tag!)
So there you have it – my 2013 “every man’s” buck! Some more pictures to close… Saved a good bit of surrounding filler footage as this hunt will be aired on Midwest Whitetail’s Southeast show next Thursday. I’ll post a link that happens.