Joe Akin of Alabama was hunting in late November with his father and a good friend up in Tennessee on private land and had one of those days they’ll talk about for many years. Akin provided us with his story about the successful hunt and his big buck.
By Joe Akin
My dad reported seeing a “monster buck” on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. I was not clear if the buck was entering our property or leaving our property. It crossed right in front of him and he took a good look with his glasses and claimed it to be definite shooter. (He rarely says that).
Hadley Coan, a longtime friend, and I arrived at 3:30 p.m. and entered the farm from the opposite side from where we intended to hunt. Somewhat of a backdoor approach, I guess you might say. We drove to the upper level of the property with hopes of the wind subsiding as it did Saturday afternoon. The wind was brisk and the sun was shining bright. This was the warmest part of the day and it was 33 degrees when we left the truck for our stands.
Hadley walked to a nice greenfield and watched several fine bucks but did not shoot. I walked to the north face of our farm and sat down under an old walnut tree covering two different green plots and a fine buck crossing that frequently produces during the rut phase. I could see about 150 yards in all directions and hoped to see the “Monster Buck” crossing over a saddle that connects two long ravines. This location is known as the Silverado stand and each year we see dozens of nice bucks cruising and crossing there during peak rut.
I hated to move around but I quickly lost confidence in Silverado. The wind was unbearable and at 4:30 I decided to move to a grassy knoll in the center pasture which provided a slight vantage point down to our green field named “Parker’s Field.” Parker has taken several trophies and frequently took pictures of big bucks directly under his stand so we finally named it Parker’s Field. From the grassy knoll I could see several big bodied deer and one nice buck. Little did I know how big he really was or the size of his rack. He was standing directly behind the shooting house and was grazing with his head down at 300 yards.
The wind was steady at 10-15 mph but no longer gusting. I crawled about 20 yards and dropped my bipods. Grass partially obscured a clean shot so I crawled a little further and reached the center of the grassy knoll. The green plot at the south end of the pasture was full of deer and I could see at least eight does and two small bucks. I watched carefully with my field glasses and tried to determine if he was a shooter. The big buck was alone on his side of the field and slowly advancing towards the group of does. He looked briefly in my direction and I got a look at the inside spread and knew he was a keeper.
I flipped my bipod down and felt comfortable with my shooting position. Scattered patches of grass reached up to about the level of my barrel, which caused some concern. I decided I could not risk advancing any further with several alpha does on the field monitoring a full 360 degrees. I had to shoot and It was now or never. I only carried one cartridge with me, kind of like Barney Fife, so I removed it from my pocket and chambered the 150 grain Hornady SST .308 round.
I squeezed off the shot and deer scattered everywhere. I had no idea that he was down immediately and that he never took a step. After 10 minutes I stood up and scanned the area with my field glasses and caught a glimpse of antlers in the field. I was not certain, but it did appear to be antlers, and from the long distance they appeared to be rather small.
I walked with great consternation and a feeling of reserve about his actual size and weight. “Not another basket rack – I just can’t take it again” … “He looked so big in that scope” … “Will I be chastised for tagging another mediocre buck?”
As I approached I felt a little better. At 100 yards I could see the tines and the size of his body. My final step was step number 284 and I reached my prize. It was a very emotional moment, to say the least. He was much better than I imagined. It was a perfect shot from the .308 and the deer fell dead in his tracks.
I called my dad and Hadley and told them to come up to Parker’s Field at dark because I had a pretty good one down. I wanted my dad to be there when we drove the length of the pasture to retrieve the deer. It was a special time for sure, and he quickly stated this was not the monster buck he saw at 10 a.m.
My buck had 13 main tines and two primary stickers and possibly two more smaller sticker tines near the bases. We have decided to call him a 15-point buck but it really depends who is counting. You know it’s a “good” problem when you come up with a different total each time you count!
Dad got a good look at his buck and said his was wider, more symmetrical and without the split brow tines. Nothing like adding more fuel to the fire! I take the biggest buck we have ever seen and dad is certain he just saw another buck that is larger. I can’t wait to see how this Tennessee rut unfolds this season!
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