This Buck Was Worth the Early Wakeup Time

Sometimes it pays to get out of bed and head out to the treestand, even if your instincts are telling you otherwise. The author tagged this gnarly buck after an adrenaline-packed standoff.

It was early September and bow season was just underway. I rolled out of bed, questioning whether I should really get up or stay put. During the past two weeks, and out of 5,000 trail cam pictures, there was only one single buck — a wide-racked 6-pointer — that was worth getting out of bed for.

Jason Arrington with his droptine buck, which he arrowed after wondering if he should get out of bed for a morning hunt.

It was 4:15 a.m. when I headed to my parents’ place to climb into my deer stand. It was a clear, cool late-summer morning, with a temperature of 60 degrees and dew on the grass and leaves. When I arrived, I changed into my hunting clothes and sprayed my gloves, hat and shoes with cover scent. Walking down into the woods to my stand under the cover of dark- ness, I thought about what the day might bring. It was the third day of the 2016 deer hunting season, but my first morning in the stand.

At 5:30 a.m. I cocked my crossbow and climbed into my stand as several deer that were already there ran off. I sat down in my stand and pulled up the burlap cover in front of me and tied it into place. I sent a text to one of my good friends because I knew he was heading to his stand that morning, too, and wished him good luck.

An hour later, I heard footsteps coming from my right side. I peered over my shooting rail to see a spike and a small 8-pointer still covered in velvet walking toward my stand. They were there for only 10 minutes until they both quickly lifted their heads and start- ing walking to the small creek on the left side of my stand.

As I watched the two bucks, I caught a glimpse of a bigger buck and thought, I can’t be this lucky — to shoot the wide-racked 6-pointer on my first day in the stand. I raised my crossbow, placed it onto the shooting rail and got ready to take the shot. As I peered through my scope, I realized this wasn’t the 6-pointer, but a much bigger buck!

As I stared through the scope, I saw tine after tine, making for a harder shot, with buck fever kicking into overdrive. The big buck stopped and stared up at me, and I told myself I had to calm down and keep still if I was going to be able to get a shot.

A few seconds later, the buck lowered his head and turned slightly to the right, giving me a front quartering shot — and the only one split second chance I had before he would turn and run. I pulled the trigger and heard a loud thud as the arrow hit its mark. I stayed put, hoping I could see the buck fall or hear it crash to the ground.

Seeing or hearing neither, I caught my breath and got out of my stand. I walked over to the spot where the buck had been stand- ing and couldn’t see any blood or my arrow. With little hope, I walked in the direction the buck had run, hoping that maybe the arrow was still lodged in his chest, preventing him from bleeding.

I had walked only 20 yards when I saw the biggest buck I’ve ever seen on the ground. He had a long droptine on the left side along with two kickers — one on each side — and nine other tall tines with nice mass. I knew I had just shot a once-in-a-lifetime buck.