Sometimes the calendar tells you it's time to be in a tree. Sometimes it's brothers-in-law, or maybe the neighbor's combining.
After a long day at the job site on Nov. 8, 2013, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go bowhunting. Although early November is usually a good time to be in a deer stand, there hadn’t been much activity to that point.
While trying to decide what to do, I checked the wind direction several times that day. But it was hard to commit.
I wound up calling my brother-in-law during the drive home for our daily discussion of what we’d seen in the woods the previous day. He convinced me I should go out that evening.
“It is Nov. 8, dude. You HAVE to go,” he chided me.
I knew deep down he was right. So I decided to return to a farm I’d hunted twice previously, where I’d seen no deer afoot. I had been hunting hard for three weeks. mostly at three other farms, and I’d turned down two 135-inch bucks.
Another reason I chose this place was that a buddy had told me the standing corn on the neighbor’s field had been combined. I thought that might’ve pushed the deer out of the corn and into the timber.
It was 43 degrees that day with a wind out of the west-southwest. Twenty-five yards before I reached my stand, I set off a doe-in-heat scent bomb.
As I positioned myself in the tree, I noticed the wind was swirling. To hedge my bet, I put the can of buck bomb at the bottom of the stand.
About 45 minutes later, I spotted movement to my left. I instantly noticed a buck’s right beam, which had incredible mass. I could not see the entire rack because of a tree.
When the buck took a few steps, I glassed it with my Nikon binoculars. I was thrilled to recognize the buck from some trail camera photos taken two years earlier. No doubt, this was a deer of a lifetime — the one I’d been dreaming about since I was 6 years old.
It walked out of the creek at 85 yards. After I grunted softly and growled, it looked in my direction and started coming.
To seal the deal, I flipped my doe bleat can call, and then grabbed my bow from the hanger beside me.
The buck continued to approach. When it was within 35 yards, I noticed it was lip-curling, probably due to the scent bomb. I knew it was going to give me a shot opportunity.
Shortly after the deer resumed walking, it heard something, stopped and turned to look downhill. I ranged the deer at 22 yards, quartering away from me. I had a very small shooting window due to some small limbs in my way.
I knew I could not let that opportunity slip away from me. I drew, settled my 20-yard pin behind its rib cage, and then released. I saw the arrow bury into the animal’s side, followed by a gout of blood. The buck ran off the hill and stopped at the creek approximately 40 yards from my stand.
It then crossed the creek onto the neighbor’s property, which made my heart sink. I did not have permission to venture onto the adjoining tract. I was certain he was down, though, because I did not hear any further activity.
I waited in the stand for 15 minutes before descending. After looking at the blood trail, which indicated a double-lung hit, I slid down the hill and walked to the creek to see if I could see the deer lying on the other side. I couldn’t.
Knowing I needed permission to proceed, I started walking back to my truck and called two buddies to tell them about what had just happened; to say that I thought I’d killed a deer of a lifetime.
Once I was sitting in my truck, I called my local game officer to see if he could meet me to get permission to find this deer so there was no question of where or how it was killed, but he was working outside Fayette County.
I went home for a couple of hours to give the deer time to expire. My wife and kids brought pizza home, but I could not eat. Let's just say I could not do anything but pace the kitchen floor.
When I went to get permission from the landowner, I was accompanied by my brother- and father-in-law. When we arrived at the man’s home, I knocked on the door.
I explained I had shot a deer and that it had crossed the creek and run onto his property. I got a lump in my throat when the gentleman stated, “You know I do not allow hunting.”
“Yes sir, that is why I am here to get your permission to find the deer,” I answered.
He then told me it would be fine to go look for the deer, just this once, and a huge weight was lifted off my chest.
My in-laws and I then jumped in the truck and drove around the block to get to the back of the property where we could enter. At a fast walking pace, we got back to where I’d shot the deer.
We followed the blood to the creek crossing, crossed over and continued following the trail. After walking an additional 15 yards, our flashlights illuminated the massive set of antlers sticking up out of the brush.
My brother-in-law and I could not believe our eyes. I knew in that exact moment I would probably never experience another high like that.
My father-in-law still talks about our reaction when we approached the deer.
I was so pumped that I had trouble sleeping that night.
Hunter: Mark Sharp
BTR Score: 215 6/8
– Photos Courtesy Mark Sharp
This article was published in the November 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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