By Tom Rausch
My wife and I live on 120 acre farm in St. Lawrence County, where we lease 50 acres to a local farmer, have a 25 acre woodlot, and the rest is a duck pond field (8 ponds). The farmer planted soybeans this year, and we’ve had too much rain for him to get in and harvest. I’ve also got an acre of corn, a couple acres of brassicas, and miscellaneous smaller plots on the property. For the last 4 years, we’ve only been shooting 6-pointers or bigger.
I saw this deer two years ago as it bedded down near a trail leading out to a field. Every time a doe came by he jumped up and checked her out. None of them were in estrous yet, as he didn’t follow any of them. That deer was a 6 pointer, and very tall, with no brow tines. This deer was very tall, had no brow tines, and is a 7-pointer. I’m pretty confident that this is the same deer.
I got trail cam pictures of him all summer, in the woods, and out eating soybeans. He was bedding over on my neighbors property, and was bumped by him and his brother-in-law earlier this year. They were both going on and on about the size of it.
I was hoping to get a shot at him during bow season, but never saw him.
I’ve been very busy at work, and hadn’t had a chance to get out much over the last week and half. Finally, I was able to take a day off and headed out to my elevated blind at 6:00 am, on the 2nd of Nov, 2010. I was dismayed to jump a couple deer on the way in, but was happy that at least they didn’t blow as they ran off.
It was 29 degrees, with a very light NW wind, and when I got to my blind the windows were all frosted and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see out of them when it got light. I prefer to leave them closed for scent control, but knew that wouldn’t be an option today.
I poured myself a cup of coffee from the thermos and waited for daylight. I opened the windows around 7:00 am, and could see a doe in the beans a couple hundred yards away. As it got lighter, I could see 2 more does eating turnips near her. About 15 minutes later, I watched 3 does come off the neighbor’s property and head into the beans, about 40 or 50 yards from me. I was thinking to myself how nice it was to have live decoys out there. All of the deer appeared fairly relaxed, and in no hurry as they ate.
At 7:40, I watched them go on alert and start staring into the woods, but I couldn’t see what had their attention. As they were still looking that way, I noticed a big buck behind them a couple hundred yards, heading in their direction. I didn’t even need my binoculars to see that it was the guy I was watching all summer! He walked slowly, but steadily toward the does, and was within 100 yards or so before they noticed him. They didn’t seem worried about him, and I could hear them as they started munching beans again.
I was watching all this develop and realizing I was finally going to get a crack at him. The does were so close I didn’t dare move my chair at all for fear of noise, so I had to wait for the buck to move to a point I could get my crosshairs on him, which he finally did when he was 80 yards out. I got my breathing under control and slowly got my rifle out the window. I rested the stock on the window frame, but when I settled the butt into my shoulder, the gun moved enough that the stock slid off and the barrel landed on the window frame. To me inside the blind it sounded as loud as thunder, but the does surprisingly didn’t hear it. Since the buck wasn’t on alert, I didn’t feel rushed at all and waited for him to turn broadside. He obliged a few seconds later, and I squeezed one off. I have native warm season grasses planted in part of the field, which are tall. When I shot he fell right in his tracks, but I couldn’t see him laying there. I chambered another round and waited a couple minutes in case he got up.
Interesting side note, I just picked up this Weatherby Vanguard 30.06 a few months ago, and this was the first round fired at game with it, so I definitely consider this my lucky gun now! I climbed down and walked over to finally see this guy up close and personal.
After a prayer of thanks, I got a good look at him. He had broken off a tine on the 3 point side, so is now a 6 pointer. Even though I was able to see his mass in the pictures I have of him, it was bigger than I thought. I then went back up into the blind, poured a cup of coffee, and wrote everything down in the journal I keep up there.
I called my wife and told her the good news and she screamed in the phone with excitement. I then asked her to call my buddy, Al Laughman, to come over and give me a hand. Al showed up with camera in hand and a huge smile on his face. When he saw the buck, he was as excited as I was and couldn't stop snapping pictures. He called the taxidermist he uses to see if he was available, which he was, so off he went for a ride in the truck.
This will be the first deer I’ve had mounted, and the taxidermist and my buddies and I were guessing his age at 4 ½ or 5 ½. I took him to the DEC office and they aged him at 3 ½. I’ve got scales at home and he weighed in at 205 lbs. field dressed.
They said he obviously had good genetics and good feed. I’m sure he didn’t have a chance to spread any of his genetics this year, but I’m sure he has in the past!