By Ron Evans
I can't remember ever seeing the same big buck three seasons in a row. If I didn't get him by the second year he would disappear – no doubt killed by a shotgun hunter. After hunting this buck for two years with my recurve exclusively, I reluctantly bought a crossbow to use during gun season, and got him on the fifth day, November 19, 2014.
That morning, while at the base of my tree before light, I saw a 6-point go crashing right by me, grunting behind a speeding doe that had to swerve to avoid me, and then heard a deeper grunt running by in the darkness after them. I knew it was him trying to recover his doe being chased by the little buck. When I saw him from my tree later that morning he was searching for his lost doe, but after 30 minutes I realized he must have smelled me, so I got down and went after him on foot.
I hunted in a big circle to the down-wind of his area, then started very slowly sneaking back through. About one hour later I got a twenty plus yard shot as he quartered away, walking through the goldenrods while still searching for his doe (I would not have tried this shot with my recurve). I heard a solid body hit, and from his reaction thought I had a good hit.After he crashed off, I saw him stop about 50 yards away, standing and alert for a full minute. I hoped he would collapse, but then was surprised to watch him just walk away! I quietly backed off and waited a long hour, then began looking for sign where I shot at him.
It took a while to find where he'd been, and finally find my arrow, only half covered with blood, then I gradually worked my way to where he was standing after the hit. There I found a small puddle of frothy lung blood – a thrill for sure – but followed a blood trail for just 20 feet (while he walked) then nothing – no bleeding where he ran. I waited a while longer then began searching the area. Almost four hours after I saw him from my tree, and over two hours after my shot, I finally found him, long since dead, right in his core area. My arrow had hit him through the elbow then barely into one lung, then his leg pulled the arrow out on the first bound. Although I had seen him six times last year and six more times this season, he was even bigger than I had realized. It was a very exciting day with lots of action.
This buck had some interesting behaviors, he seemed to spend most all his daytimes in an area of about 30 acres, mostly small brushy trees and weeds/goldenrods – with few trees big enough to set up in. He was pretty vocal, almost every time I saw him I would hear him grunt first. He didn't do much rubbing or scraping, at least not around his little area as there was very little buck sign.
He also seemed especially focused on whatever doe he was with, which turned out to be his downfall. One early morning I watched him slowly herding a doe down the hill toward his core spot. As long as the doe was feeding or otherwise drifting in that direction he would hang back. When she deviated he would make a dash and cut her off. I think they would have come within range if the doe hadn't spotted my tiny movement.
I put enormous time, effort and suffering (cold) into hunting this buck these past two seasons, but fairly frequent sightings kept me motivated and it paid off. I've passed up lots of medium size bucks in the years since I killed my last big buck, and shot at least a few does for meat. It's even possible that I passed up this same buck as a one or two year old.
In the final analysis, my one regret was not being able to get him with my recurve. If I had, it would definitely be in the photo! I still strongly oppose crossbow use during archery season, and will continue using my recurve, but I might resort to the crossbow again if I feel pressure from the gun hunters.
Ron's 10-point Onondaga County buck Is a main frame 8-point with double brow tines. The buck's outside spread is 26" and he dressed out at 190 lbs and is aged at 4 1/2 years old. Gross Score: 152 Net Score: 138
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