Rack Magazine

Field Goal

Field Goal

By Mike Handley

Sometimes the best nickname for a buck is staring you in the face.

Strong brow tines (or eye guards) are the exception rather than the rule on the 100 acres William Bidwell owns and hunts in northern Cherokee County, Oklahoma.

So it was a big deal when, in June 2014, he retrieved trail camera photographs of a buck wearing twin P1s that looked every bit of 7 inches long.

“When my wife and I first saw the pictures, the eye guards reminded me of a referee signaling for a score at a football game,” he said. “That’s why we named him Field Goal.”

The deer wasn’t camera-shy. It continued stepping in front of lenses throughout the summer and early fall, which sealed its most-wanted status. William could think of little else.

On the afternoon of Nov. 16, the week prior to Oklahoma’s modern gun season, William decided to go out on a meat hunt.

One reason was because the wind wasn’t right for him to hunt the stands where all the pictures of Field Goal had been taken. Another was the family’s venison-less freezer.

William didn’t head afield blindly. He chose a spot where several deer had been photographed near one of his bow stands, and he went with the intention of shooting the first big doe to wander within range.

Easy-breezy, he thought.

“I settled in the stand about 2 p.m. The wind was hitting me on the right side of my face,” he said.

A couple of yearling does came to within 35 yards of his hiding place at 4:00, but William wanted a mature one, something with a little more meat on her bones.

He didn’t have to wait long.

“About 4:30, I saw movement straight upwind of me. A big mature doe was slowly feeding in my direction,” he said. “I grabbed my bow, stood and turned toward the deer. And that’s when I saw the biggest buck I had ever laid eyes on, following her.

“I am right-handed, so since they were coming up on my right side, I had to turn so I would be able to draw,” he continued.

While the doe kept coming, the buck bedded down at about 70 yards and kept an eye on her. When she was about 15 yards from William, she saw his foot move.

“She was jerking her head back and forth, trying to make me out among the branches, and she was doing that annoying stomp,” he said. “She was just to my left, and the buck was still lying down about 70 yards away.

“I really thought I’d messed up. So I did the only thing I could think of, which was to close my eyes and pray I hadn’t screwed up as badly as it seemed. After what seemed like forever, I heard the doe run off to my right.

“When I opened my eyes, the buck was on its feet, and then he began trotting toward the doe,” he continued.

Field Goal “I found a gap in the trees and estimated he was going to pass through that opening at about 40 yards. I drew my bow, found my 40-yard pin — the yellow one — and when he stepped into that opening, I made the loudest mouth bleat I could muster. I wanted to make sure it was heard.

“The deer put on the brakes, and I settled the yellow pin behind its shoulder and touched the trigger on my release,” he said. “When I heard the SMACK, this huge buck dropped in its tracks!”

Because the whitetail was still kicking, William nocked another arrow to be ready in case it regained its feet. But it didn’t.

“After I said a little prayer of thanks, I sent a text to my friend Mack, who is usually hunting with me. He’s been by my side, helping make this piece of land great deer habitat. I texted: I just smoked a MONSTER!

“I was trying to give this deer 30 minutes before getting down, so I also texted my wife, even though I knew she didn’t have service. She was hunting in a ground blind overlooking a bottomland food plot about 300 yards from me,” he said.

William didn’t last 30 minutes. After about 15, his curiosity got the better of his hunter’s instinct. He still didn’t know he’d arrowed the whitetail at the top of his wish list.

“I couldn’t take it any longer,” he said. “I had to get my hands on that massive buck!

“When I reached him and realized I’d killed Field Goal, I freaked. I tried to call Mack that time, but got no answer. I just took off running to my get my wife.

“When I reached her blind, I had to apologize for ruining her hunt. But we needed to get the camera and get some pictures because I JUST KILLED FIELD GOAL!” he laughed.

“Later, Mack and I went back to where all this took place and ranged the shot at 32 yards.

“All my friends and coworkers say I might as well hang it up, that I’ll never kill another deer like this. Well, I might not, but I am going to try my hardest,” he said.

Exactly one week later, William harvested a really nice 10-pointer, which capped his most memorable season ever.

Hunter: William Bidwell
BTR Score: 198
View BTR Scoresheet

This article was published in the June 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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