Misjudging distance might’ve cost this Ohio man a 10-pointer, but the consolation prize wore a drop tine.
Eager to learn more about the property he’d bought in December 2009, Tony Amyx spent a lot of time scouting it the following spring and summer. He also collected numerous trail camera photographs of the deer there, including a fabulous 10-pointer.
As much as Tony wanted an opportunity at the 5x5, which he knew was bigger than any of the 150-inchers he’d taken in the past, he stayed home when Ohio’s bow season opened Sept. 25. The weather was unseasonably warm in Adams County, and he thought hunting would be a waste of time.
“I don’t like to hunt when it’s hot, or even warm,” he said.
The first break in the drought-like weather came Friday, Oct. 15. Temperatures dropped, and a light rain dampened the parched ground.
“I was confident the deer would be on their feet as that was the first cool air we’d seen,” Tony said.
But he was wrong. He saw nothing.
Saturday dawned colder and clearer. The temperature hovered at 32 degrees, and the Ohio Valley was painted with its first frost. Tony almost had a spring in his step as he walked to his stand in the dark, accompanied by his daughter’s boyfriend, Jake Black, who veered off and went to a different setup after they exchanged good-lucks.
Tony had forgotten to carry his rangefinder, which turned out to be a blessing.
Despite the light rain that fell on Friday evening, the wooded ridge was still dry; the leaves were crunchy. Two does cruised through only 30 minutes after Tony settled in, their presence betrayed by the steady cadence of footfalls in dry leaves. Following closely behind the does, tracking their movements by sight, was the big 5x5 he’d been hoping to shoot.
As the buck closed the distance, Tony waited until he was confident it was at 30 yards before raising his 20-year-old crossbow. With a slow, steady squeeze of the trigger, he sent the bolt toward the deer’s vitals.
Tony was astonished when the bolt sailed under the deer, which had been 35 yards away instead of 30. The startled buck took a couple of bounds and refocused its attention on the does before joining them toot sweet.
The all too familiar, post-encounter shakes hit the disheartened hunter, but he had the presence of mind to re-cock his crossbow and check the scope, which his panting had fogged. As he was wiping it clean with the tail of his shirt, a small 6-pointer passed by his stand.
Moments after the 3x3 vanished, Tony saw yet another buck fast approaching from 60 yards. He shouldered his crossbow, but the deer was moving too quickly for him to lock in on it.
A desperate Tony bleated loudly, twice, stopping the buck at a mere 15 yards. After the bolt hammered it, the animal walked 15 feet, stumbled and hit the leaves.
“I was so nervous, I couldn’t stop shaking,” Tony said. “I couldn’t believe what had just happened!”
After he regained his composure, Tony called Jake. He also telephoned his wife, who wasn’t thrilled to be awakened at 5:45 a.m. on a Saturday. She was in Idaho, visiting a daughter.
Jake arrived minutes later to help celebrate.
Neither Tony nor Jake had seen the buck before that day. It had never stepped in front of one of their numerous trail cameras.
But it was no secret to others who lived nearby,
A local bowhunter encountered the magnificent whitetail in 2009; a couple of outdoorsmen had seen it from the road; an entire family had become acquainted with it in the summer of 2009, when it was bedding in a thicket near their home; and a February rabbit hunter had found both its sheds a mile distant.
“I’m proof that good fortune in the deer woods can happen to anyone,” Tony said. “I’m just a regular, ordinary guy who enjoys the great outdoors. I don’t use any gimmicks. I don’t have any scents in my pack, other than a bottle of scent-elimination spray I found while turkey hunting. And my camo is a leafy mesh suit I wear over my regular work clothes.
“I prepare for the season, but luck was on my side that day,” he added.
Hunter: Tony Amyx
BTR Official Score: 176 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 196 5/8
— Photos Courtesy of Tony Amyx
This article was published in the July 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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