By Stephen Teller
It goes without saying that reading the necessary lead-in to all the Big Buck stories, is truly what makes the stories glorious and the hunt bigger than life itself. So here is mine...
I am a self-taught hunter. There isn't a soul in my family that hunts, except for me and that is not a bad thing. I never had the type of dad that had any interest to hunt, or siblings or uncles or cousins that hunted. I learned everything that I know now about hunting from READING magazines, watching TV, being in the woods and listening to my friend's countless stories about hunting. That being said, keep in mind that I also didn't start hunting until the year of my 30th birthday.
My preparation is generally the same every year. I pull out the deer target in August, start whipping through catalogs, weeks later I start going through my gear in an effort to determine what needs to be replaced, filled up, repaired etc.. This year was no different. I washed my hunting clothes every two hunts. I had countless hours of practice, attended a 3-D Archery Shoot in Watkins Glen, NY with some friends, fine tuned my equipment, and practiced every day until I couldn't pull that darn string back anymore. Not only do I shoot straight at the target, but I contort my body as if I am leaning around the tree, I shoot kneeling, ducking, sitting, turning, twisting my torso without moving my feet, any position you can think of, shooting 6" groups at 40 yds., .because you never know what could happen in the woods!
My trail cameras were extremely generous to me this year, although the area I was hunting appeared to be infested with coyotes. The coyotes seemed to thin out as the season got underway and smaller bucks started to appear in the cameras, for selfie's. After weeks of mosquito bites due to changing SD cards in the cameras, as the air got cooler, I finally got my first glimpse of a giant that I had only seen in last years photo's. But he was a monster, and I wouldn't be worthy to meet him face to face... or would I?
It was November 5, 2014 the first cooler day after a thermal high that followed four, super brisk, windy days. The rut had finally kicked in where I was hunting and I was able to witness Bucks chasing does for most of the morning. This was the first rutting activity that I had seen all year. I was glad this was happening as I had already used four days of vacation for this week and today I was on my fifth.
After sitting in a new stand in the apples for the morning, I decided to switch stands mid-afternoon to break up the monotonous view. I also thought this a good idea as I was starting to see some bigger bucks on the trail camera near my favorite stand. So I packed up my gear and headed out to the 2-man stand that overlooks open hardwoods, and a fairly large thicket. I set up quickly as I knew the big deer were now chasing does. At about 4:19 pm I saw a "shooter" chasing three does around the hardwoods, I thought to myself, "If he comes in range I am taking him."... he never did.
He didn't answer to my calls, or even pay me any attention, he simply walked away. As the sun was fading I remembered thinking, "Man that was awesome!" seeing all that rutting activity. I decided ten more minutes and I was hopping down. Not five minutes later, as I was about to descend from my stand, I heard what sounded like an old buck, "Braaaap!"... "Braaaap!" Leaves were getting kicked around, branches cracking, the doe was zooming through the woods, the buck was chasing a hot doe. All I remember seeing were antlers and thinking, "OH MY GOD! He's a shooter!"
The doe came in and stopped broadside, dead in her tracks at 25 yards, then she broke into a brisk trot and headed for the thicket. He was right behind her! Oblivious to me, he was fixated on her, he never knew I was even there. I drew back my Matthews Z7 and gave him five more steps, I grunted with my mouth three times at him before stopping him exactly where the doe had stopped at 25 yds. I did what I always do under pressure, I kept breathing and guided my sight pin to his chest. FWAAAP! POP! I released my arrow and as the Nockturnal lighted knock, lit up the woods without disappearing, I thought, "Oh my gosh, it happened, I missed him."
He ran about 20 yards around the front of me and stopped broadside at 25 yards again! My second arrow was already on it's way! He ran another 20 yards and stopped again! I remember thinking, "Third times' a charm." I let the third one go. He went on a rampage and landed safely 15 yards in front of my stand. I am sure you are thinking, "Three arrows at the same deer? That's pathetic!" The interesting thing is, you never know how you will react until that situation happens to you. I couldn't hit a barn for those three minutes...
I got down and got over to him about ten minutes later. I had to calm down, I could feel my heart pounding away and my knees were shaking so bad, I thought I was going to fall to the ground if I started climbing down any sooner. I got over to him and couldn't believe my eyes! Not only was he the biggest buck I ever shot, but he was the biggest buck that I have ever seen alive.
After reviewing what happened, I decided that my first shot hit him right in the heart, my second shot was a clean miss(nerves) and my third shot hit him in the neck. The first shot killed him, he just wouldn't fall. To make matters better, I caught the WHOLE THING on video. I have started his shrine, with pictures, videos... etc. I still feel a little surreal about the whole thing, I never thought I would ever get a chance to harvest a "Monster Buck", let alone even see one. The thing I take away from all of this is that you can do whatever you put your mind too, if you follow the four P's. Planning, Practice, Persistence, and Patience.
My buck has a 17" inside spread, 10" G3's, 7" G2's, and 5" G4's. I estimate him at around 131" and an easy entry in to the Big Buck Club....
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