By Shawn Gianforte
The morning of October 29 I went hunting with a friend from college on his family’s farm. The farm is right around 100 acres total and has a little bit of everything; some farmed fields, swamps, and wooded areas. What I knew about the land was it wasn’t hunted hard, only occasionally by 6 or 7 family members and occasional friends like myself. I had high hopes for hunting out there because of the size and the habitat of the area.
The morning was a beautiful crisp morning, and I was certain about seeing some deer. Unfortunately, the morning hunt was completely uneventful. I saw absolutely nothing and was baffled by that. However, the morning was very productive. I linked up with my friend and we walked the property and he showed me where all of the stands were. As we walked the trails there were deer runs everywhere, scrapes, and rubs. All the signs said there were a lot of deer here, and I wanted to find them. Then we walked through the swamp and out into Shangri-La. We walked into a 75 x 225 yard field that was surrounded by trees on the north, east, and south. The west end had a tree-line and corn fields; the swamp ran along the south through the woods. I knew this would be a hot spot. The field is small and secluded from everything, and sits in the middle of the property. The only access to the field was a lane-way on the NW corner. The set up just seemed perfect to me. I told my friend he should be hunting this field in the afternoons, I was certain there would be deer coming out to feed every day.
After that, we went in and had some breakfast. That was supposed to be the end of my hunting for the day. I had already planned on spending the afternoon with the family. But I wanted to sit on that field bad, and I figured it would have to wait until the next weekend. Richard called me around 1:30 asking if I wanted to go back out to the farm for the afternoon hunt. You’re damn right I wanted to go, but I had committed to my family. I told him I would check, and for him to keep me posted. Apparently I had already told my wife earlier in the week I planned on hunting all day. I was good to go. I told Richard I would meet him at the farm at 3:30.
We met up at the farm, and I asked Richard if he minded if I hunted on the small field. He was good with it. There was a natural ground blind located on the southern edge of the field about halfway down. I decided to sit there and see how my gut feeling played out. Around 4:30 I had two does come up from the south out of the swamp heading right into the field. The only problem was they were super close, within 5 yards. I sat and waited until they were both in the field before I tried to get set for a shot. As I was getting up I snapped a twig and spooked the deer. I froze and they tried to ID me for what seemed like 5 plus minutes, and then they took off. I thought I was in the clear until they started huffing as they ran off.
I thought for sure my hunt for the day was over. Those two doe blew me in to the whole area. But it was still early, there is always hope. I still wanted to see just how many deer would come into the field. If anything I would at least have a good scouting report for future hunts. Then around 5:15 I was looking towards the swamp and some movement in the field caught my eye. I turned to look and there was an enormous buck moving straight across the field south to north. I could not make out his rack, but his body was huge. I grabbed my grunt and tried to call him back, but he was set on where he was going. All I know is that buck was humungous!
That was 3 deer all afternoon so far. I guess I had higher expectations, but there was still daylight left and I was going to wait it out. I was getting anxious because I knew I was running out of light, so I was debating whether to try to move to the west end of the field to stalk up on a deer. I gave one last look out into the field before I started moving, and I saw a buck moving my way from the west. He seemed to be milling around, but he was heading my way. From what I was able to tell he looked like a really nice 8 or 10 point. I was committed to getting a shot on him even if I had to move to him. I was willing to risk it.
I noticed he was moving at a steady pace and had his face glued to the ground. I don’t know if he picked up on the estrus wicks I put out or if he was on the trail of a hot doe. I picked my shooting lane and positioned a tree between me and the buck. I stood, drew back, and waited for him to come out from behind the tree. I had him ranged at 35 yards. Once he was in my lane I grunted and he popped his head up and looked towards me as if he was angry I disturbed him. Just then I let the arrow go. He bucked up and took off to the west, as he was running away there was another large buck in the field with him that took off. The shot felt great, but my follow through was way low. Now I was second guessing my shot. I knew he was a big buck, but I had now idea of his true size. At that moment it didn’t matter because I thought I blew the shot.
I decided to wait until dark before I stepped out into the field to look for my arrow and a blood trail. I had let Richard know about my shot and told him I was waiting. It seemed like an hour before it was dark. When I stepped out I looked to the left and noticed an unusual mound towards the west end of the field. I was hoping it was my deer, but I started to look for my arrow, and Richard came down to help. We were having no luck finding my arrow or a blood trail, and I just wanted to go see what was in the west end of the field.
After about half an hour of looking for my arrow and blood, I walked down to the west end. As I got closer I was able to tell it was my deer. While I was walking up to him I noticed his rack kept getting bigger and bigger. I was way off thinking he was an 8 or 10. I think I counted his tines almost 10 times before I accepted the fact that I shot a 14 point buck. I was going absolutely nuts in the middle of the field in absolute disbelief of the size of the deer. I looked at my shot placement and it was dead on, maybe a little higher than I like, but it did the job. Forget buck fever, I had buck plague set in as I took in the enormity of my deer. I was just shaking for the next hour plus as I was taking care of gutting and hanging the deer.
He was just a beast to drag through the field, and I knew he was well over 200 lbs. After I got him gutted we loaded him into my truck and went down to the farm house to show the family what I tagged. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that Richard and his family gave me. I never thought I would shoot a buck that size anywhere in the Rochester area, or even in my lifetime. He green scored at 183 3/8, and dressed out just under 210 lbs. I will be having him officially scored after the 60 days, and I already have him into the Scorza Brothers for the mount. I should have it back before Christmas…I can’t wait. And to seriously think that I almost didn’t go out for the afternoon hunt…