Since purchasing the property in 2006, I was fortunate enough to harvest my third buck on November 12, 2013. I started hunting hard on November 4th, on stand through each day. I had blogged earlier prior to Nov. 12th that it was shaping up to be a difficult hunting season.
This buck was first noticed on the property on Nov. 6th (see video below). The buck visited the watering hole at 1:00 pm (didn't change the clock on the camera after end of daylight savings time as it reads 2:00 pm). This helps confirm that bucks do travel in the middle of the day. Since he approached from the west to the watering hole, I had a pretty good idea of the route he was going. There was one of two options. Over the years, I have come to realize that bucks travel on my property in a circular pattern. They travel through the food plots on an east to west or west to east line. That means they either circle from the north or south. I believe this has a great deal to do with the topography of the property. I gambled that he was working the north side.
As a result, I had been hunting the stand on the NE corner of the property that Jim Ward suggested back in August. Jim thought this location would be hot and he was dead on. This stand was producing more sightings than any other on the property this season. This also has to do with the topography, plus the stand concealed me very well. The down side is that I had no shots further than 20 yards.
At about 8:30 am, a lone doe crossed to the north of my stand going towards the east. A few minutes later, a 1.5 year old buck followed her exact path indicating she was a hot doe. My hope was this would be a mature buck, but that was not the case. I started to think the morning was going to be a bust, when I heard another deer approaching. Upon glassing the buck, I could see immediately it was the main frame 8 point with a few kicker points. This was the biggest buck I had seen this year on the property, either on stand or via trail cameras. As a result, I made the quick decision to shoot at this one.
He followed the exact path of the doe, which meant my shot would be 20 yards. I picked up the bow off of the hanger and the routine that bow hunters practice took over. I drew and placed the pin behind the shoulder and tracked him until he eventually stopped right on my trail to the stand. He was quartering away from me and just barely in the shooting window I had. There was a tree to my right that if not careful could become an issue.
I released the arrow and the shot made an extremely loud POW! It sounded as if I had missed and hit a tree directly. However, the shot looked good and I was confident that it was a kill shot. After the buck ran off, not limping, I started to rationalize that the shot must have passed through the kill zone and hit the opposite shoulder. If that were the case, I couldn't figure out why he ran off without limping. Upon climbing down from the stand, I could not find my arrow anywhere. This was evidence that maybe I did stick it in the opposite shoulder and hoped the tracking would be short.
The shot was made at 8:45 am and I waited 2 hours before going after the buck. It took 40 yards before finding any blood or hair...not a good sign. I then began to find blood and white hair. Now it was getting interesting. The blood trail became heavy with a lot of blood being lost. At about 150 yards, I had to make the decision to either back out or continue trailing. In '12, my buck was hassled by coyotes so I really didn't want to leave the buck out there long to prevent the predators from tearing up this large bodied buck. There was no evidence of the buck bedding down, but I did find two areas where he stood. I also found a set of weeds that had blood at high levels and in a spraying pattern, possibly indicating he was blowing blood. Could this have clipped a lung? I was hopeful.
I elected to continue tracking the deer. He began to take the low road sticking to the edges of ridges and valleys. Fortunately, he did not leave the property and actually turned back south following the creek. At one point, he entered the creek going back and forth and crawled through some dense brush. The blood trail continued to be heavy. With that amount of blood, it was clear the deer was going to die so I pressed on.
Fortunately I found him about 100 yards later. He was just on the other side of the creek and was walking around a point. Conventional wisdom is to simply back out on a shot like this, which is probably what I should have done. However, it worked out and I was able to eventually find him at about 1:30 pm.
Upon investigating, my shot was a liver pass through shot. I never did find my arrow and believe it must have glanced off of a log on the ground which resulted in the sound I heard. I do plan on looking more later on to see if it can be found.
The buck was the biggest bodied buck I have shot. His live weight was 260 lbs., with field dressed weight of 210 lb. I haven't put a tape to the rack yet, but he will not score high given he is a main frame 8 pointer. I like the split brow tine and the two kicker points and believe he is older than 3.5 years. How much older than 3.5 years old needs to be determined once the jaw bone is removed. I hope to send the teeth into a lab for confirmation, but have heard that this process is a little costly. (Refer to letter below for Deerage.com results)
In conclusion, I feel fortunate to harvest this mature buck. I've been told to shoot the biggest buck on your property each year and I believe this was it. There is obviously the possibility that the rut would have brought through a bigger buck. However, the sightings and trail cameras were telling me this was the biggest buck so I took the opportunity on this mature 8 pointer. Now on to hunting with the kids and trying to thin the doe heard.
Date: November 12, 2013
Score: 132" total
Age: 5.5 Years Old (Incisor Teeth Submitted to DeerAge.com. Analysis results received on 4/8/2014. See letter below)
Live Weight: 260 lbs.
Field Dress Weight: 210 lbs.
Wind: North - Buck was shot to the north of my position. With the wind from the north the buck's only chance to pick up my scent was on my trail in to the stand. Given he was trailing a hot doe from 15 minutes prior, it is tough to say his stopping on my trail was due to me or the doe. He was quartering away from me facing NE when shot was made.
Property Location: Northeast Section of the property in the woods.
Location of Shot: Right side Liver (pass through shot)
Buck Activity at Time of Shot: Walking and on the trail of a hot doe that had passed to the north of my stand 15 minutes prior.
Sightings: Only previous sighting was a video gotten at the watering hole on Nov. 6th.Multiple trail camera pictures starting Oct. 1st., with one being the heading on this page. The date shot was the only date seen from the stand.
Shoot the biggest buck you are seeing on your property.
Mature bucks travel in the very middle of the day. The video at 1:00 pm on Nov. 6th above proves this point.
It is possible to harvest a buck in the woods instead of on a food plot. Goal for '13 accomplished.
Topography plays a major role in deer travel routes. The hot doe followed the natural topography and the buck followed within 15 minutes.
Not finding the arrow on a pass through shot makes it more difficult to understand exactly where the deer was hit by the arrow.
Do not push a buck after the first 150 yards. This was the same learning from '12 and I apparently didn't learn my lesson. I may have gotten lucky to recover this buck as easy as I did. The fear of coyotes getting to the buck first as occurred in '12 clouded my judgement.
On The Wall:
The handy work of Ed Vinzant of Whitetail Impressions in Brazil, IN.
Taxidermy by Ed Vinzant - Full Sneak looking to the left.