By Michael R. Bath
What’s a broken leg to a man on a buck mission?
I first saw this 10-point brute on my trail camera, but it was always in the middle of the night. After seeing the brow tines, which turned out to be 8 and 7 inches, I knew this was my target deer, no matter what.
After figuring out where he was living during the daytime, nine hunts later I started second-guessing myself. But after placing a camera near this hiding place, I knew I had it right. He was always coming out about 20 minutes after dark.
Then the rut kicked in, along with a full moon. I had twisted my knee about three weeks earlier, and it kept getting worse (I later I found out it was a fracture), so walking was difficult at best.
Since my favorite deer stand is nice and even has a heater, I decided to sleep in the stand for a two-day hunt. My wife and especially my daughter we not happy with this decision at all. My son knew I would be OK. So, extra early on Oct. 24 with a full moon and the recently started rut, I headed out for the 400-yard walk to my deer stand.
My backpack was stuffed, including one Thermos of hot coffee and a second Thermos of hotter coffee for the next day. I also had two days of food and other supplies that probably weighed 35 pounds or so. In addition, in my shoulder side pack, I had another 15 pounds of necessities like binoculars, calls, scents and other miscellaneous gear.
With a cane in one hand and my crossbow over my shoulder, along with 50 pounds of necessities in two packs, off I went.
It didn’t take long before I started to second-guess the wisdom of my venture. Then the thought of those brow tines just made me truck harder, while my knee countered with, “Slower, Mike.”
Finally, after several stops to rest my knee, I made it. While still dark, I got everything unloaded and put in its place.
It was a long day. Shooting light started at about 7 a.m. and ended about 6:40 in the evening. Throughout the day, I was a little disappointed. I thought there should be more action, but then I remembered seeing a coyote in the trail camera pictures. Maybe he was still in the area.
When 6 o’clock rolled around, does began to come out, and not far behind were a few younger bucks. I was watching two areas, one to each side. I kept reminding myself not to watch either side for too long. Then, at 6:20, it happened.
As I turned my head to the look at the other side, the buck trotted by at 25 yards. The light was fading, so I needed my binoculars to be 100 percent sure it was him.
Yes! It was the Brow Tine Buck, but he was at 60 yards and heading away toward the does. Then, suddenly, he turned back! One of the does was bringing him slightly towards the stand.
I got my crossbow up and ready. I had no idea where the doe was going to go next, but I wanted to be ready just in case.
When she brought the buck to within 45 yards, I let out with a “Baaaww!” The brute stopped, but he was quartering slightly toward me. I’ll take that angle any time with a rifle, but it’s not ideal for a crossbow. In my book, there isn’t a more difficult archery shot.
I have faith in my bow, and I had a perfectly still target, so I touched the trigger.
“Whoosh … THUD!”
The buck took off back into the pines he called home.
Knowing where I was aiming and hearing that thud, I had a pretty good feeling about the shot, so I called my son and told him the story.
He had an hour and a half to drive to my place, but the plan was to have him get my small tractor and head toward my stand. I told him to call before he started in with the tractor, just in case.
After about 50 minutes, I had all my gear cleaned up and put away. Yes, I was that confident.
Carefully and quietly, I got down out of the stand and headed to the harvested soybean field where the buck had been standing. It was full dark, so finding the bolt or blood trail might be easy. Then again, with the hit I was hoping for, it might not be that hard, either.
No bolt, and no blood.
So, I did the only thing I could do and followed the shooting lane through the pines the way the buck had gone. There, after about 40 yards, I found blood, and a lot of it. The buck was laying just 35 yards farther. As I’d thought, it was a perfect shot.
When I got my hands on those brow tines, I was not disappointed. The only other whitetail I could find with brow tines this high and with a front facing Y on top of each was the Brow Tine Buck of 1870.
I’m 66 years old, and this was Pennsylvania buck was number 45. I’m proud to say every buck I’ve shot was legal in every way.
The main attraction of this buck is his brow tines, but this 10-pointer was 5 1/2 years old and weighted 225 pounds field-dressed.
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