My girlfriend, Chelsey Keylor, and I spent the evening of Oct. 30, 2010, in an elevated box blind, watching a food plot. We’d barely settled in when three does came onto the field and began browsing.
"Do you want me to record them?" asked Chelsey, who was operating the camcorder on her very first time in the deer woods.
"No, that’s okay," I replied.
When the trio of whitetails ran back into the woods, Chelsey looked at me with alarm.
"We didn’t scare them," I assured her. "They’ll be back."
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While waiting for more deer to show, we could hear the giddy sounds of children trick-or-treating over the hill. In Barnesville, Ohio, they celebrated Halloween a day early.
Eventually, another doe and a small 7-pointer entered the field. The two deer came within 20 yards of the blind. As Chelsey filmed them, the young buck chased the doe all around the food plot before they disappeared back into the woods.
That’s when I pulled out and blew my grunt call.
I figured one of two things would happen. I’d either scare every little buck out of the woods, or I’d lure in a decent one.
Within minutes of finishing my grunt sequence, I looked over the knoll and saw antlers bobbing through the brush. I told Chelsey, “Don’t move. Here comes a shooter buck.”
I then turned on the camcorder, pushed the record button and crouched below the blind’s window to pull on a facemask. When the deer with the enormous rack reached and began walking around the food plot, I tried to stop shaking long enough to range it. When I finally got a reading, the deer was at 45 yards.
After that, I steadied my crossbow and waited for the buck to amble closer.
It seemed like it took forever, but the buck was at 20 yards and within shooting distance in a matter of seconds. But it was quartering toward me, and I wanted a broadside shot.
When the giant whitetail finally obliged, I couldn’t shoot. Its vitals were hidden by a stump.
“As soon as it steps out from the behind that stump, I’m shooting,” I told Chelsey.
The bolt struck the deer behind the shoulder, or at least that’s what I thought. As the seemingly unhurt animal was running away, however, I started second-guessing the scenario.
Watching the footage in the camera didn’t ease my mind, so I got down from the blind and went straight to the arrow. The bloody shaft indicated I’d hit the deer exactly where I thought. Reassured, I called my dad.
After allowing the deer time to draw its last breath, we followed the trail, which wasn’t easy. The sign was miniscule until we’d covered 130 yards, which is where the dam broke. As soon as we stumbled across the patch of blood, Dad knew the search was almost finished.
“With those bubbles in the blood, it can’t be far,” he announced, and it wasn’t.
We found it 20 yards from the last and largest spray of lung blood.