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Big Doe Down

Big Doe Down

By Patrick Dunning

Frustrated from the apparent exodus of bucks at the private chunk he usually hunts, 26-year-old Brandon Rhodes located some interesting ground in Bankhead National Forest just across the Winston County line, went in blind and capitalized on this mangled 28-point antlered doe.

"I'd been hunting private land all season, just a small piece, and had some nice bucks on camera that I was after, but I got discouraged because all my target bucks quit showing up," Brandon told Buckmasters. "It (Bankhead NF) was a new area for me to hunt. I had hunted it a couple times before and saw a good bit of deer but didn't know what was in there."

Brandon packed light the morning he tagged this unique whitetail because he wasn't sure how far he'd have to walk and opted to hunt from the ground. He was nearly 300 yards from the truck and set up behind a felled tree on a ridgeline looking down into a holler with no expectations.

Big Doe Down"There's an old logging road that comes down and I hunkered up next to some fallen trees for good cover. Down in the holler there's a creek deer travel along and once you get in the bottom of that holler and start to go up the ridge it gets thick, but there's a bunch of rubs and deer sign along this thicket," Brandon said.

Around 7:30 a.m. Brandon noticed a "buck" cruising along the opposite ridge and tried to identify the deer with his rifle's scope.

Brandon continues, "I couldn't tell what it was because it had its head behind an oak tree. I waited for it to move around a little bit; it turned and licked toward its hind quarter and a saw a huge wad of points sticking out every which way, so I went ahead and took the shot."

The first thing Brandon noticed as he stood over this deer was its velvet and how brittle the rack was. He toted the whitetail a portion of the trip back to the truck to avoid damaging the rack any further and had the help of a friend the rest of the drag. 

When Brandon isn't chasing deer around Walker County, he's 1,400 feet underground, longwall-mining coal near Jasper.

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