Scouting a year in advance gives this Kentuckian plenty of dream fuel.
Tim Lauer of California, Ky., might have punched his only 2011 deer tag long before Thanksgiving, but he was unwilling to spend the year’s longest weekend indoors.
Curious to see what sort of bucks might be roaming at least one of the two Campbell County farms he hunts, Tim set out a trail camera over a corn pile. His reasoning: If a nice one happened to step in front of the lens, he’d at least have something to look forward to in 2012.
“I don’t check my cameras very often,” he said. “About two weeks passed before I went back to see what I had.”
And he wasn’t disappointed.
“The buck I captured on film looked like a young, mainframe 10-pointer with a very wide rack, split brow tines and a couple of stickers near the right burr,” he said. “I thought, That deer needs another year.”
Tim daydreamed about the distinctive buck quite a bit during the off-season, wondering just how much bigger it would be in 2012. Sometime in August, he put out some corn and another camera to see if he could get pictures of it. But the only buck photographed was small.
Tim hunts a couple of farms, both characterized by steep hills and ridges. He decided to kick off the season at the one that offered a bench traversed by a road that had to be at least 100 years old. A couple of hay fields are nearby, and corn and soybeans are half a mile from there.
Plus, the hillside is studded with both red and white oaks.
“The oaks were dropping acorns real early last year,” Tim remembered. “The area I was going to hunt had it all: nearby crops, good bedding areas, a travel corridor and plenty of acorns. The ground was just covered with them, the most I’ve ever seen, and they were constantly dropping.
“When the first weekend of bow season arrived, it was just too hot and windy to hunt,” he continued. “I worked through the week with plans to go the second weekend.
“Because it’s so hard to get into these particular hardwoods in the mornings without spooking deer, I decided to hunt only in the afternoons. The first (Saturday) afternoon, Sept. 15, I decided to hunt from one of my four hang-on stands. I climbed into it around 4:30 and saw about a dozen does; no bucks.
“The following afternoon about 4:00, I took a handheld viewer back to the trail cam that was on the corn pile and checked the activity from the previous night and morning. Nothing had hit the corn, so I decided to hunt the stand on the bench, where the red and white oak acorns were falling.
“The temperature was in the low 70s with a slight breeze as I climbed into the stand among the oaks. A couple of does came in almost immediately. They fed on acorns for about 10 minutes, and then left. A few more does came through as well, but didn’t stop.
“I spent the next hour just enjoying the afternoon,” Tim said. “Five minutes before 6:00, I saw a few more does. And then I spotted a buck about 40 yards away, coming out of a thicket. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a shooter. My brothers had taken a couple of 160-class deer, and I immediately knew it was that good or better.
“I was sitting down, afraid to stand because the deer might see me,” he continued. “I tried to keep calm and to breathe normally, but my heart was pounding.
“I needed to stand to shoot and decided to let the buck walk past me before I tried.
“It was walking steadily, but then took a sudden hard right uphill. When it went behind a little clump of grass and a big oak 25 yards away, I stood and drew my bow. When the deer took a couple more steps, I made a little noise.
“I released when it stopped,” he added.
At the thwack, the big buck jumped, ran a short distance, and then continued walking out of sight.
“I saw the arrow hit, and it looked a little low,” Tim admitted. “I sat and watched the direction he went for a few minutes, and then I called my buddy, Steve Rust, to see where he was and if he could help me track. He was on his way home from a fishing tournament, still quite a distance away, and couldn’t help.
“I told him I’d shot a big one, by my guess a 170,” he continued.
Tim waited about an hour, and then he retrieved his arrow. After following a sparse blood trail nearly 100 yards to a thicket, he circled the patch. But the deer had not gone to bed inside; it had walked completely through it.
When the trail eventually turned downhill, Tim felt a little better about his chances of recovering the wide-racked buck. But daylight was quickly fading.
Rather than risk spooking the wounded deer by stumbling around in the dark, he went home. He called in and burned an off-day on Monday.
“There was a chance of rain, so I needed to get back on the trail,” he said. “After picking up where I left off the previous evening, I followed the sign about 35 yards to (and through) another real thick spot. Beyond the far side was a creek, and the buck was lying in it,” he said.
Hunter: Tim Lauer
BTR Score: 203 6/8”
– Photos Courtesy Tim Lauer
This article was published in the October 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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