I might be the happiest Veteran on the planet. That’s because I was blessed with the opportunity to capitalize on the whitetail of a lifetime on November 11, 2008 — Veteran’s Day.
Veteran’s Day 2008
Veteran’s Day morning was a beautiful and cold morning — with temperatures hovering in the teens — and calm winds throughout the Midwest.
After getting settled into my stand before light, I was at complete peace and quite happy to be into the second day of my week-long vacation. I thought about how challenging this year had been in all respects; work, family, personal, and hunting, but quickly realized I had my health and was more than 20 feet off the ground comfortably seated in my stand.
I affectionately call this stand the "Bee Stand" as I have been stung more than 18 times in the past two years while hanging it. In 2007 it was honey bees and this year it was ground bees. I started to think about past hunts and my friends and family but quickly was distracted by thoughts of Veteran’s Day and my time in the USMC.
The calm of the beautiful November morning was quickly broken and my attention refocused on the sound of this magnificent buck approaching my set up. I calmly peered around the tree and quickly realized this was a shooter buck.
My release found the string loop and I stood, turning slowing at the same time I came to a smooth full draw as the buck approached my stand.
Finally, The Shot
My 20-yard pin settled behind the buck’s shoulder just as he stopped between a large cedar tree and several smaller trees near the end of a basketball-sized shooting window.
I recognized the need to use the 30 yard pin (from previously ranging a cedar tree) and quickly adjusted my sight picture. With the sight pin settled behind the buck’s left front shoulder, the release was squeezed and the arrow was on its way.
I heard an immediate crack! — and the buck ran off through the thick cover crashing through everything in its path. A few short seconds later, I heard him hit the ground, more thrashing and then absolute stillness.
After the Shot, Stillness
It was an emotional roller-coaster ride going from absolute calm and confidence to an overwhelming adrenaline rush in seconds — and I was still not completely aware what I had done.
Nocking another arrow, I looked and intently listened for a few minutes but nothing but silence was heard. I hung up my bow and sat down to regain my composure.
A quick decision was made to wait a full two hours to take any action at all. Many thoughts went through my head during this time.
Part of that time was spent praying that the buck did indeed lay dead. Thoughts came and went about not only how difficult it was going to be to wait but also just how very hard I had worked the last ten years of bow-hunting to get to this point.
Thoughts drifted back to the past two years of bow-hunting the Bee Stand and how each of those years a Pope and Young class buck had slipped past me without a shot being possible due to having no window through which to shoot.
More Action Leads to Follow Up
Suddenly I was jolted back into hunt mode by the sounds of an animal walking. A beautiful mature buck walked on the South side of my stand at a mere 12-15 yards. I believed the buck to be 3.5 or 4.5 years old. He was definitely cruising and did not give me a very long opportunity to appreciate him.
Within a minute, I heard more walking and turned to see the largest 6-point whitetail I had ever seen. The buck had longer than 10-inch G2s and G3s, which were very heavy.
The pressure was now off, so I decided to grunt to him to see if I could get a better look. He responded aggressively to my buck grunting and growls. Moreover, he closed the 60-yard distance between us to a mere ten yards very quickly, but seeing no rival he moved on.
Again I sat in awe as I just could not get past this seemingly impossible-to-believe Veteran’s Day morning.
My thoughts quickly returned to the buck I had released an arrow into but still nothing: No visual and no sounds to let me know anything more. About another hour or so passed and I heard a deer coming. It was a doe fawn followed closely by a doe.
By the time the slow-moving pair came my way I drew my bow again. My slight movement or sound during the draw must have startled the doe and she bounded out to 25 yards — offering me a quartering away shot. I watched as the arrow shaft flew true and hit the mark.
The doe made a 25-yard death run that took her crashing through the thick swamp cover and deadfall trees. Just when I thought I could bring this hunt back to reality, the action again proved to be more than any rational bow-hunter could digest.
Action continued as the doe fawn came back in and was quickly pursued by the large 6-point buck. Apparently he had not gone far and the commotion must have piqued his curiosity. However, the buck realized there was no opportunity for romance and he and the doe fawn went on their way.
I first searched for the doe. It was an easy tracking job and I found her quickly. She laid amongst several deadfall trees and somehow gave me confidence in finding my buck. I did not see the arrow or blood at the shot location where the buck had stood, but after a few steps I found both: good blood and most of my arrow.
The blood trail allowed me to make quick progress until I looked up and saw a huge body and a distinctive white belly ahead in the thick cover. I closed the distance and came to some very thick deadfall and swamp cover to find the most magnificent buck I have ever seen.
I could not believe how absolutely monstrous he was. After a short celebration and thanks for the opportunity I sat and stared at this magnificent buck and was humbled. I finally had closed the deal on not only a Pope and Young Wisconsin Whitetail but an absolute monster buck. Although I did it on private land it was a truly fair chase hunt in every possible sense of the word.
What I had accomplished had still not set in. I had just harvested an 8-point buck that green gross scored over 158 inches Pope and Young.
The buck has an approximate inside spread of 18.5 inches, 25-inch main beams, and G2, G3, and G4 tines at or over 12 inches in length. This monster also maintains 4-inch or greater circumference at the base of its antlers.
I really owe Bill Peotter for his friendship and all his help in retrieving these fine animals — as well as being with me to celebrate this truly humbling Veteran’s Day.