We came to know a deer with a messed up rack on our new Illinois lease last season. I gave him the name “Freak Nasty” due to his messed up rack and huge body. He was a homebody all of last (2013) hunting season. He was seen in bow season my one of my buddies during early (2014) bow season.
By Mike Hayslette
When the rut approached he was still showing up on camera but was completely nocturnal and remained that way up until first shotgun. My other buddy had an encounter with him opening day but choose the wrong stand, so he stayed out of range. Luckily for Freak Nasty, as he tempted death that day. My buddy would have shot him in two seconds flat had he been in range.
Freak Nasty made it through first gun and we roll into second season. My buddy and I roll into camp with low expectations of being able to hunt very much. There is a winter storm forecast to hit that will dump 6 to 8 inches of snow over night and throughout opening day. We awoke opening morning to 2+ inches of frozen ice and snow falling accompanied by a 30 mph wind out of the north.
We decided to go anyway and about froze our butts off. I learned a lesson that day: deer do not move on a sheet of ice during a blinding snow storm.
We were confined to camp the rest of the day due deteriorating conditions. The roads were a mess and two south Bama boys had no business on them. The next day was extremely cold so we were not able to hunt that day either. However my buddy did manage to drive over to the farm to glass our corn field while sitting in the truck. Freak Nasty escaped death for a second time on this day. While my buddy was sitting in his truck Freak Nasty appeared within 100 yards of his location en route to a spilled corn pile where the farmers were loading out the grain truck.
My buddy, being an ethical and law abiding hunter, just watched him that afternoon. By the third day conditions had improved but morning hunts were still out of the question due to single digit temps. We were not prepared to endure those temperatures so we stayed at the camp. It finally warmed to 18 degrees that afternoon so we headed out. My buddy was going after Freak Nasty on the front corn field and I headed to the back field.
Around 4 p.m. Freak Nasty shows up on the corn field but my buddy hesitates on taking the clear shot offered. That cost him his only opportunity, as Freak Nasty never offers him another clear shot. He dodges his third and final death sentence of the 2013 season.
Now, Into the 2014 Season
We secured a 3-year lease on the farm going into the 2014 season. Our hopes were high as we let some nice and up-and-comers go the (previous) year. We headed to the farm in July to spray our food plots. While there we put out several cameras. The plots had a good stand of chicory in them from the 2013 planting and the deer were feeding in them heavily while staging en-route to a bean field.
The first food plot on the farm is the only location we start getting pictures of Freak Nasty. He is regular on camera for a few weeks; then he disappears. When I say disappear I mean like “He Gone.” This causes great concern as I never had a resident buck just disappear that early in the summer. I had all kinds of bad thoughts in my head from poaching, victim of EHD, to getting hit by a car. If it was a possibility I thought about it!
We continued running cameras on the farm the rest of the summer and they are still going. We did not get a single picture of this deer until Nov. 30. The prime time and first shotgun (season) has come and gone, and this deer remained a ghost not to be seen. The farm receives a good rest between first shotgun and second shotgun (season). It was my plan to go up a day early to run cameras but I didn’t make it. The plan was to slip around on the cart midday of first morning to pull cards.
The stand I hunted the first morning had a camera nearby on a scrape so I pulled the card when I climbed down. On our way out we pulled another card out of a camera on a food plot. This plot had two cameras but we didn’t check the second one. I downloaded the pics from camera that was on the scrape and bam! There is Freak Nasty just before daylight on Dec. 2. At this point we are fired up because he’s back home! I tell my two buddies we need to hunt him hard the next several days in hopes of one of us killing him.
We head out for the afternoon hunt. I go to a stand near the scrape and Steve is in the second food plot while Larry goes to the front bean field. We all see a pile of deer but no shooters that afternoon. Steve pulls the card out of the second camera that was located on the food plot. While going through the pics Freak Nasty shows up in the plot on Nov. 30 at 4:30 in the afternoon. The second day rolls around and it’s a wash. It’s storming and continues to rain all day. The third day is much better so we head out. The morning action is very slow and that surprises us all. We thought the deer would be up feeding since the rain had moved out.
We discuss our afternoon plans and to my surprise neither Steve nor Larry wants to hunt the food plot so I go there. I see 30 deer that after but nothing with a rack. The final day rolls around and I head back to the stand near the scrape. This is the best morning hunting I had by far of the entire trip. I saw a nice 11-point and a nice 9-point. Those were the second and third rack bucks I had seen out of two days of hunting. That’s is very rare for this farm, to say the least. Steve had to head home so Larry and I were the only two left. I recommend Larry go sit the food plot, as I wanted to hunt the north end by the scrape where I had seen the two rack bucks that morning. Larry is not interested in hunting that spot so I decide what heck I’ll hunt it again. It was a easy walk and I wasn’t feeling very motivated the last afternoon. I had made the comment several times that I was ready for my Midwest (hunt) to be over with.
I finally get my lazy butt out of the camp and on my way to the farm. I get settled in around 3 p.m. and shortly afterwards I start seeing deer making their way toward the food plot. This plot is in a great area because you can see a long ways. The deer have to come across several hundred yards of mowed CRP. The first wave hit the plot and I had 14 deer on the field. A few of those fed off headed towards a cut corn field; then the second wave shows up. I now have 17 on the field with a single doe headed straight to me. She works her way in behind me so she’s downwind of my position. I can tell she has caught my wind by the way she is walking around. I don’t move a muscle as I know she will bust me. I cut my eyes towards the plot to see three more does headed to me. At this point I’m thinking game is over.
They walk to my tree and the first one looks up dead at me! She does a few head bobs and moves on. The second one and third one all look at me but follow the lead doe. I feel a huge relief that I just escaped a certain show-stopper but I quickly come back to reality because I still have a nosey doe behind me that can still ruin my hunt.
I finally decide to take a chance to slightly move my head so I can scan the entire field. I’m able to turn it enough without being busted to see the field and boy do I get a big surprise. Freak Nasty is at 80 yards munching on turnips and radishes. I mean, how the heck did he get there without me seeing him come across a wide open CRP field? It was a blessing because I would have been torn up by the time he got within range.
I slowly eased my gun off the hanger and then I hear it. The dread foot stomps from the pesky doe behind me. I was busted and Freak Nasty had taken notice. He’s standing at full alert ready to bolt. I settle the cross hairs the best I could and slowly squeezed the trigger. A cloud of smoke rolled out of the ol’ smoke pole, reducing my vision to nothing.
For a second I did not know if I had connected or missed.
I finally caught a glimpse of the beast through the dissipating smoke cloud to confirm I had anchored him where he stood. I was just a little jacked up at that point to say the least. I sat in the tree for the next 15 minutes to calm down and send my many thanks to our Heavenly Father for the many blessing he has given me!
Mike Hayslette is a deer hunter from Alabama.
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