The Dotterer Buck
Columbia County 9-point

By Tom Dotterer

I was hunting with the crossbow the morning of November 10, 2018. I hadn't seen a single deer all bow season. My trail cams only had a picture of a small 4-point and 8 point and one doe since I put them out in the middle of September. It has been that way for years on this property that I hunt.

To my surprise I saw a deer around 9 AM up on the ridge in front of me. I could tell he was a buck and a shooter. I guessed him to be about 45 yards away. He slowly fed across the ridge and when he came to a small clearing I let the arrow fly. He jumped and bounded off over the hill. I had clearly missed I told myself. I climbed down the tree an hour later and went to look for my arrow or blood. I found neither not even a hair. I searched an hour and a half for sign of a hit and nothing. The next day I hunted the same stand. I didn't see a deer that morning so when I got down I again looked for my arrow. Again, I came up empty. 

On Monday November 12th I hunted a different stand on the same property. I sprayed my doe and heat buck bomb on the way to the stand. It was a cool crisp morning with no breeze. As the sun started to come up I could here a deer walking from a long ways away. The sound started getting closer and then I could see a body, then antlers. Then he turned and walked directly to my stand. I shot the arrow at about 12 yards. 

The deer jumped and bolted out of sight. After an hour and a half wait... I couldn't wait anymore. I said to myself, "That was a decent buck. I hope I find it." I recovered the arrow which was covered with blood. I found the blood trail and started tracking. As I was tracking I was expecting to see a body around the next turn. It was starting to get harder to stay on the blood trail and I was starting to realize that I may not find him right away. 

The blood started to get more scarce and when the trail reached the edge of a field I only had a speck. I marked the last speck and began crawling on my hands and knees to try and find more. I then tried to figure out which way the deer went and started to make grid searches just looking for a body. After two hours I decided to back out, go home and get something to eat and come back later. 

Later I texted my stepson, Kyle, to see if he would give me a hand looking. He met me at the property and I took him to the last spot of blood that I marked. Before we got there Kyle shouted, "There he is!" I couldn't believe it. The deer had made a sharp right at the last blood marker and died 15 yards from the spot. I must have walked by him a couple of times during my Grid search! Sometimes it's better to have a second pair of eyes.

We were both surprised how big this deer was. I knew he was nice when I shot him, but not this nice. He had a wound on the top of his back which must have happened when I shot at him the Saturday before. He must have ducked the string at that distance because crossbows are loud. To have two shots ujst two days apart at the same deer is a miracle in itself. 

This was my biggest buck to date in 37 years of hunting. He has 9-points, a 21 1/2" inside spread and dressed at 187 pounds. I want to thank Kyle for helping me find my buck of a lifetime! 

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