Thank goodness for work meetings on the opening day of firearms season.
Although armed with my beloved crossbow, I spent opening day of Indiana’s 2011 gun season in a swamp stand at my Tit Lake hunting area in Huntington County. It was a frosty morning, and my rattling and grunting lured a big 8-pointer with a broken rack to within 15 yards just after sunrise.
The buck looked up at my tree, but it didn’t see me on the other side of the trunk. It eventually took off after a hot doe.
I didn’t have much time that morning because I had to attend a rudely scheduled 10:00 meeting at our family-owned company (I sell trailers for a living).
After collecting a loaded trailer, I was returning to the business when I spotted a huge buck chasing a doe in a field — land I could actually hunt, thanks to my friends Merritt and Lynn.
I continued onward, dropped off the trailer, and then rushed back to see if the deer were still in the vicinity. I changed clothes, sprayed everything down with a scent killer and eased into the area, trying to decipher where the deer might’ve gone.
I wound up sitting for hours next to the first row of corn stubble.
The first deer to come along was Freaky Fred, a small and unique buck that came unglued when I finally moved my crossbow to scare him off at 10 yards. The next visitor was a breathtaking buck, led by a would-be girlfriend. They approached from downwind.
My heart was pounding so hard that I had to look away in order to keep from hyperventilating. I’d already had two heart attacks 11 years earlier, which is why I hunt with a crossbow, and I wasn’t eager to have a third.
The sun was dipping over the hill when I took the shot. Afterward, the buck took off running. It stopped to look back at me once, and then disappeared with a little less steam.
I took note of the last place I saw it, looked at my watch, which showed 5:10, and then sat back to allow my nerves to settle and my breathing to return to normal.
At dark, I walked over to look for my crossbow bolt, which I couldn’t find. There were only four drops of blood.
I returned later with a spotlight, but it died soon into my search. I called my friend, (now the late) Kim “Griff” Griffith, and he advised me to back out and resume searching the next morning.
When I picked up the trail again, my son, Sam, and Mike “Fish” Fore joined me. It didn’t take us long to find the buck.
I was astounded it was even bigger than the 16-pointer I arrowed in 2008. When the local police chief saw it, he gasped and said, “I know him. He came from the graveyard!”
That’s why I call him the Zombie Buck.
Big Tom Dial helped me skin my buck, which took some finesse because I wanted Mike Ferguson of Ossian to do a full-body mount.
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This article was published in the November 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.