Rack Magazine

Where Calendar Trumps Thermometer

Where Calendar Trumps Thermometer

By Lisa Price

Whether hunter or hunted, if you live in the sauna known as southwestern Georgia, you’re going to break a sweat.

Deer hunters in the Midwest complain loudly whenever the temperature climbs into the 60s in November. Farther north, they’d consider it justification for staying indoors and watching hunters on television whispering into the camera.

The 60s would be a cool snap in southwestern Georgia, however.

It was 79 degrees when Michael Spurlin went to his tripod stand about 4 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2012 — that's NOVEMBER, not SEPTEMBER.

“My expectations were high,” said the 29-year-old from Leesburg. “I’ve always had the most success hunting the first and second weeks of November.”

Plus, he’d heard an all-out buck brawl while hunting the farm the previous day.

Michael’s favorite vantage point, a box stand, had been crushed by a falling tree. He discovered the damage, along with the fact that a trail camera wasn’t working, on Labor Day.

“Just to make do, I moved a tripod into a nearby hedgerow,” he said.

When Michael was about 12 years old, his father bought a 150-acre farm in Lee County. The elder Spurlin lost his four-year battle with pancreatic cancer in August 2011 and left the farm to Michael and his brother Andrew.

“Ironically, my dad didn’t hunt. But I’ve been hunting since I was 12,” Michael said. “I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors: hunting, fishing and hiking.”

Prior to Nov. 9, Michael’s best bucks would score in the mid-130s. They seem like babies now.

“Several big plantations in our area have instituted strict management programs, so there are lots of big deer here now,” he said. Ostrich manure might also have played a role in boosting the farm’s nutrients.

Michael turned an idle 10 acres, formerly used as an ostrich pen, into a food plot for deer. The tripod was set up between a swath cut into planted pines and another section where a coop-like structure once stood.

When he sat in it on Nov. 8, Michael was very happy with the setup.

Where Calendar Trumps Thermometer“I heard a deer blowing and sounds of a chase,” he said. “A doe eventually ran past, followed by a decent buck, but I didn’t get a good look at it. Soon after that, I heard bucks fighting. I’d never heard anything like that. It went on for a long time, ridiculously nasty-sounding.”

He was aloft in the tripod again the next day.

At 4:30, a doe came into the food plot he was facing. Soon afterward, an amorous spike joined her. It kept pestering her, trying to mount her, but she would have none of it.

“When a buddy, who was hunting about 400 yards away, rattled, the spike heard it and left, but the doe stayed,” Michael said. “She kept lifting her head, though, and looking off through the planted pines. She did that eight times.

“Eventually, I spotted the silhouette of a huge rack within the shadow of the pines. A buck was approaching,” he continued. “I wasn’t sure how big it was, exactly, but I knew it was bigger than anything I’d ever seen and that I needed to get my gun up and ready for a shot.

“It was already moving at a fast pace, head down, headed toward the doe,” he added. “It was picking up speed with every step, and I knew it was going to run her.”

The buck was just 30 yards from Michael when his .308 roared.

“That buck wasn’t in the plot for more than 10 seconds, and I’d been in the stand for only an hour,” he said.

“I remember looking at the time. It was 5:15. And then I just sat there, probably in shock.”

Michael’s hunting buddy, T.S. McGee, had brought along his ATV, which came in handy when it was time to carry the deer out of the field.

“It was unbelievable how quickly word spread,” Michael said. “I just sent out a few texts. We weren’t even out of the woods when people I hadn’t been in contact with since high school were calling and texting.”

People also drove to the farmhouse to see the deer. Among them was Brad Henry of H&H Taxidermy, who Michael called to come cape the buck.

Brad suggested a fence post mount, using an old post and wire taken from the farm.

“That seemed like the perfect setting,” Michael said. “If not for my father buying the farm, I might never have gotten so into hunting and developed such a passion for the outdoors.” 

Hunter: Michael Spurlin
BTR Score: 187 4/8
Centerfire Rifle

– Photos courtesy Michael Spurlin

This article was published in the September 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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