My mother-in-law always said things happen for a reason. I help out one day a week at a nearby farm to secure exclusive hunting rights on their 200 acres. I had a commitment to work on the afternoon of Thursday, October 20, 2016, however, the landowner canceled it for a later time. With my afternoon on this day now open I decided to spend it hunting a buck I called Twin Towers.
Twin Towers is a large white tail buck. In the 2015 hunting season, he had brow tines that were over nine inches tall hence the nickname Twin Towers. He has become a local legend between my hunting group and that of some neighboring hunting parties as well. We all have trail cam pictures of him; I was lucky enough to find one of his shed antlers this last spring.
Tuesday of this week I started checking the extended weather forecast for the afternoon of Thursday, October 20, 2016 on my Scoutlook hunting app. The wind for this time was going to be blowing lightly out of the North West which was perfect for a stand I call the cougar stand. This stand is located twenty feet up in an enormous Bur oak tree that overlooks a honey hole of a food plot that has a couple apple trees surrounded by ladino clover and is next to a 1.5-acre field of corn, soybeans, and brassicas.
From studying trail camera pictures and videos, I was confident Twin Towers was using this food source even though I had not yet gotten a picture of him on the camera located next to the cougar stand. With this in mind, I knew I had to try something different if I was going to have a chance of getting a shot at him if he showed up.
I decided to use a deer decoy as a one horn buck with its ears pinned back in fight posture. I also understood that if given a chance to pull this off my scent control was going to need to be at the top of its game.
I pulled the decoy out of the garage to air out and then dry after washing it with the garden hose. I cleaned my new ScentLok suit and stored in a scent control bag; everything else I would take to stand was sprayed down with scent control spray.
After work on October 20, I hurried home in anticipation of hunting Twin Towers. I showered in hunter soap and dressed outside to stay as scent free as possible. I gathered all my gear including the decoy and headed out to my stand. I paused shortly to wash my rubber boots with the hose on the back side of our house.
It was hard to carry the decoy and all my other stuff without making extra noise, getting sweated up, and leaving unwanted human odor as I approached the stand site. After arriving at the stand I quickly set up the decoy and sprayed it down with scent elimination spray one last time before climbing into the stand.
With it being the third week of October and there being subtle signs of the rut starting to gear up where I hunt in south west Wisconsin, I decided to rattle lightly to get Twin Towers on his feet if he were in ear shot. The season ended at 6:23 pm on this day, so I decided to use my rattling horns at 5:00 pm for two minutes and then wait. A doe and fawn came into view around 5:30 pm; they became curious of the decoy and approached very cautiously. They eventually passed within bow range as they entered the food plot. Only a few minutes had passed before another doe and fawn came into view. They were cautious of the decoy and did not come as close as the previous pair as they passed into the food plot to begin eating.
As I watched the four deer fill their bellies on all the food plot had to offer I noticed movement on the edge of the pines that bordered the opposite side of the field. As soon as he came into the clearing there was no mistaking that he was Twin Towers the reason I was in stand in the first place. It was obvious that he saw the decoy as he walked into the food plot with the does looking in my direction from only fifty yards away. Once Twin Towers was in the food plot, he quickly met up with the other four deer. Soon the older doe with fawn became nervous and exited the field directly across from me with Twin Towers in tow. It was exciting to see him,” I thought to myself” It occurred to me that I may never see him again.
Several minutes had passed before I scanned the corn field for the other doe and fawn pair, I then noticed a nice buck farther out in the middle of the food plot munching down on some of the standing corn. He looked nice, but I didn’t think he was Twin Towers. I pulled my grunt tube from my pocket and grunted to the buck in the corn. He looked in my direction, but he didn’t seem too interested and slowly fed out of sight.
I checked my watch and there were 25 minutes left of legal shooting light. As I pulled my sleeve back into place over my time piece, I heard some rustling in the leaves below me. I looked down to my left along the edge of the woods and food plot and there he was. Twin Towers was standing only fifteen yards away and was staring at my decoy. He took a few more steps never taking his eyes off the ridged plastic deer imposter. He was now standing slightly more than ten yards away and quartering to me.
As I watched him below me, I noticed my scent cone was being carried right to him with the slightest cooling breeze. My scent control efforts were paying off for he did not seem the slightest bit aware that I was perched over him waiting for a shot opportunity.
Twin Towers stared at the deer figure for several moments before realizing something wasn’t quite right. As he started to turn slowly and walk away, I drew my bow and tried to pick a spot on his left side behind his rib cage as he gave me a tight quartering away shot.
After pulling the trigger on my release, the arrow made the short distance quickly and struck to the right of its intended mark. The arrow with lime green lighted knock had penetrated Twin Towers a little far back on his left side. With the arrow buried deep, Twin Towers ran only a short distance, approximately 70 yards before stopping to stand in one place for several minutes. As he stood still, I could only see the green lighted nock in the fading evening light. Eventually the green light disappeared as he slowly walked into the woods and out of sight. I waited several more agonizing minutes before climbing down and walked the distance back to our house. I left my decoy where it stood in an effort to make as little noise as possible.
After returning to the house, the first thing I did was call my boss to ask to have the next day off so I could start tracking Twin Towers at first light. After securing the day off, I made another call; this one was to a local dog trainer Sean Timmens of Spring Valley Kennel. Sean offers many dog training services which include blood tracking wounded deer. Sean’s dog, Kieler a Bavarian Mountain Hound was awarded the 2015 and 2016 Tracking Dog of the Year for U.S. and Canada by the Bavarian Mountain Hound Club of America in recognition of his recoveries, hopefully Kieler would lead us to Twin Towers.
Sean and Kieler arrived at my house around 8 a.m.; we wasted no time making introductions before heading to the stand where I made the shot on Twin Towers. Once arriving at the stand, I showed Sean where he was standing when I hit him. There was heavy dew on this morning; Sean mentioned this could make tracking difficult.
Kieler was able to pick up the scent even though there wasn’t much blood. We lost the trail several times, and without any visible blood, we hoped Kieler was leading us in the right direction.
As we made it through a brushy hillside heading down hill, we came onto a grassy path that I mow for my wife as she rides her horse around our property. Kieler seemed interested in following the mowed, grassy, horse trail while we followed behind. As we walked, I did notice there were large fresh deer tracks in the soft ground.
The mowed path took us across a small trickle of a stream which leads to forty acres of maturing pines. As we came into a small clearing, the mowed trail split in three directions, Kieler continued checking for scent from the wounded buck. Sean and I began discussing how difficult this hint of a blood trail was to follow while waiting for Kieler to pick up the trail.
The late October morning air was beginning to warm up. I remember unzipping my coat and taking my hat off in an attempt to cool off. Sean was talking to his dog, encouraging him to continue searching for the scent. I remember thinking to myself this was not going as well as I had hoped.
As I stood there waiting, I glanced to my left up the hill into the pines. It was like a lightning bolt hit me. There he was Twin Towers was lying dead in the grass just twenty yards from us at the base of the pines facing his back trail.
I started to hurry in the direction of Twin Towers; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him, but Sean stopped me asking that I let Kieler get to him first since he worked for it. I had trained a few bird dogs, so I completely understood this and stopped abruptly as Kieler made his way to my buck.
After Kieler had found Twin Towers, Sean and I moved in to admire his large eleven point rack. Twin Towers has an inside spread of slightly over sixteen inches, and brow tines that are eleven inches tall which made him instantly recognizable and gave him his name. Twin Towers has over 177” of measurable antler.
Sean commented how Twin Towers is a great buck and I should be very proud of him. I remember starting to say he should gross well but his net score will suffer due to, just then Sean stopped me mid-sentence saying, nets are for fishing, this is a great buck and don’t worry about the rest.
It has been a humbling experience to have been able to watch this buck grow into the one we call Twin Towers. I remember the excitement I felt when I captured him on trail cameras these past seasons, and the two times I saw him in velvet while horseback riding with my wife. Then to finally have an opportunity to harvest this great buck and place my tag on him comes with a huge flow of emotion. I have taken many deer over my forty years of bow hunting and a few nice bucks as well, but there has been nothing like the one we call Twin Towers, he is a buck of a lifetime. Maybe my mother in law is right; sometimes things happen for a reason.