Marion Goodpaster was enjoying his ringside seat during last year’s snot-slinging contest, but he really wanted it to end before the curtain fell on his Nov. 11 hunt in Ripley County, Ind.
The hunter from Aurora, Ind., was between a belligerent buck and an equally mouthy doe, both determined to send the other running for cover. Had it not been for another doe come to see what all the fuss was about, Marion might’ve gone stark raving mad.
He can blame — and thank —his son-in-law for putting him in the middle of the not-so-domestic dispute.
Marion was hunting his son-in-law’s parents’ 43-acre farm. After the first day afield, during which he’d found the perfect scrape and nearby tree, only to be forced to choose an alternate setup because of high winds, he called that night to ask more questions about the property.
“My son-in-law advised me to move farther into the woods, to follow a logging road and to look for a thicket where a nice 10-pointer had been killed the previous year,” he said.
“I went in again about 10:30 the next morning and scouted along the logging road. I went down over the hill, which was exactly as he’d described, and found a really nice deer trail,” he added.
Marion eventually came across a large scrape, recently tended, and decided to look for a suitable tree to climb on the adjacent hillside. He could still picture the huge 8-pointer he’d seen working a scrape the previous day.
He’d taken only a few steps toward the hill when he glanced to his left and saw a very nice 6-pointer staring at him from just 20 yards away.
“I was holding my crossbow, and my climber was strapped to my back,” he said. “The most I could do before it bolted was to slip off the safety.”
When the deer left, Marion resumed his quest for the perfect tree. It was going on noon by the time he’d found one and jacked himself up 20 feet.
“While surveying my surroundings, I saw another buck coming over the top of the hill from behind me. It was a big-bodied 4-pointer, but with some mass to it, maybe even some short brow tines,” he said. “It cut across the hill toward the scrape I’d found the previous day.
“After it left, I decided to go to the house for a quick lunch and a bathroom break,” he continued. “I wanted to scout some more, too, so I crossed over the hill and went down into the next hollow.
“I found even more scrapes, some very torn-up trees and was busted by another deer,” Marion said. “After that, I went back to the house.”
He returned to the farm about 4:00 and climbed the tree overlooking the scrape.
“I didn’t see much of anything the first hour. But then I heard something coming from the same direction I’d just walked,” he said. “It was a doe about 150 yards away. I watched her for a few minutes until she disappeared into the hollow, and then I saw a second, smaller doe.
“The little one came right to me,” he added. “Knowing the rut was underway, I was wondering when I was going to see a buck.”
Soon, a third doe appeared and dipped into the hollow where the first one went. The yearling, meanwhile, was feeding right under Marion’s stand.
“By 5:30, the sun was getting very low and shooting light was beginning to fade,” he said. “I was really enjoying watching the yearling. But then I saw movement in the thicket about 100 yards away. There were two big-bodied deer out there, and one was wearing a huge rack.
“Eventually, the big buck jumped over a fallen tree and was outside the thicket, almost in the wide open, and staring in my direction,” he continued. “I could tell the buck had a double beam on the right side, but it was too far away for me to consider taking a shot with my crossbow.”
Although the wind was blowing in Marion’s face, which meant the buck couldn’t smell him, the deer hung up well beyond range and began stomping and snorting.
“I wasn’t sure if it had spotted me or the yearling,” Marion said.
“After a few more minutes of carrying on, the buck squatted real low, grunted loudly, and then stood and started making a scrape. When it finished pawing, it stepped forward and peed down its hocks and onto the bared ground,” he said.
“That was amazing to see, but things got even more surreal when the sun sank below the horizon.
“The yearling left, which was a relief. I was able to move a little.
“The buck took a few steps toward the hollow where the does were still feeding. It was as if it didn’t want to go to them, but wanted them to come to it.
“One did come closer, at least.
“The buck seemed to be watching both her and me. I think it knew I was up the tree, but it didn’t quite know what to make of me,” he said.
“Not to ease matters, the doe began stomping and snorting, too.
“The buck was at 60 yards at that point, moving slowly closer. Between us were two fairly large trees, one at 20 yards and the other at 30. I just hoped it would keep coming, and I decided to lift the crossbow as soon as the buck passed behind either one,” he added.
Buck and doe were stomping and pawing the ground at each other, when the other doe came up over the hill, heading straight for Marion. When the buck noticed her, it started getting really agitated. And when the first doe saw her, she went berserk.
“Ultimately, the buck tried to run off the second doe, a maneuver that brought it even closer,” Marion said.
“I lifted my crossbow and tried to adjust to the scope, which actually improved the light. I then aimed and fired, and it looked like I double-lunged the buck, which raced up the hill to where I couldn’t see it.
“I did hear a loud wheeze, however, before everything went quiet. That helped convince me it was on the ground — 30 minutes after I’d first seen it,” he added.
Even so, Marion was a nervous wreck. He’d never seen such a buck, and he’d never shot one with a crossbow. His had been a combination birthday-Christmas gift from his wife, Katee.
“As soon as I got down, I found the bloody arrow by using the light from my phone. After sticking it in the ground, I went back to my truck and retrieved my flashlight. I also called my son-in-law and his father to solicit their help.
“When I returned to the woods, I followed the trail for about 70 yards to my buck,” he said. “I’m sure glad I called for help getting it out of there.”
Hunter: Marion Goodpaster
BTR Score: 199 1/8
– Photos Courtesy Marion Goodpaster
This article was published in the November 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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