Average Deer Hunter, Small Plot Yield Bruiser Buck

Zach Cherryholmes with his Ohio bruiser arrowed in autumn 2015.

Zach Cherryholmes with his Ohio bruiser arrowed in autumn 2015.

Zach Cherryholmes of Blanchester, Ohio, is like other hunters who love to get into the woods, don’t have deep pockets and are looking for a good buck to draw on if presented a chance.

Diversity makes the deer hunting world go ’round, for sure. Some hunters don’t give two rips about antler size and are just happy with a deer and the chance to hunt. Others are so screwed into a finding, scouting and hunting a giant buck that it drives them 100 percent every season. And more hunters are in between those two examples.

Cherryholmes sent us a note about one of his hunts last season:

I recently subscribed to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine and love it! One of my favorite articles to read are the stories of “average” hunters harvesting big bucks in small towns and without thousands and thousands of dollars invested in land and equipment and so on. Growing up in/around the smaller town of Wilmington, Ohio, my dad taught my brothers and I how to hunt when I was 10 years old. I immediately found my passion.

Zach 4I purchased my first bow about my sophomore year of high school and picked up bow hunting. Right out of high school I joined the Marine Corps and after all of my training, I was deployed to Iraq from April 2004 to April 2005. During the deployment I constantly asked my family and friends to send me hunting DVDs. Anyways after I returned from deployment, I was able to purchase a better bow than what I originally bought and got serious about bow hunting.

Mid-season of the Ohio 2011 bow season my uncle got me sole permission to hunt a small farm, about 27 acres, with the majority being crop field. There was really only about 2 spots I could hunt this property, one being the very tip of a finger that ended on this property and the other being a small 3-acre pine thicket with a pond. I immediately hung a trail camera on the property to find out what kind, if any, of deer were running the property. The results were pretty surprising; multiple deer and a few good bucks.

I was only able to hunt the property that year four or five times, with no luck. The following year, 2012, I asked the landowner for permission prior to bow season and was fortunate enough to have sole access again. I immediately again hung a camera and this year was even better! A lot of big mature bucks were cruising the property through the pine thicket. The largest buck I had gotten a video of was a very nice 9-pointer, and only one video a week before I decided to hunt. From what I was gathering from my trail camera, the deer were using this small thicket as a staging area before heading out to feed in the many large crop fields that surrounded the property.

So I waited for the time to be right and slid in. On Nov. 16 I opted for an evening hunt. I got there plenty early, carried in my climber, set up, waited and prayed. Up until this point my largest buck harvested was a small 7-pointer that wouldn’t have scored close to 100 inches. All was quiet until shortly before dark, as I was expecting. First up was a doe, I watched her browse around for about 15 minutes before she faded into the pines. Next in was a small funky racked spike buck, who walked right under the stand and faded into the pines in the same area as the doe.

Zach 2Almost immediately, I heard the familiar sound of footsteps crunching leaves off to my right. My view was somewhat blocked but I knew something was moving in. A few footsteps and it would stop for a short time, and then a few more. This continued for what seemed to be an eternity but was probably about five minutes. Suddenly I saw a large bodied deer headed my way. Wasn’t sure if it was a buck or doe until he was about 25 yards out. And there he walked, not sure what buck it was but I knew that he was the biggest deer that I had ever had the opportunity to shoot, headed directly in front of my stand.

On the way in he stopped in front of the trail camera I had hung and I was able to get one more video of him before he walked in front of me. He followed a trail that was 20 yards out and he had his neck stretched out headed for the pines where the doe was. Right before he cleared the vines I came to full draw, a few more steps and I tried to calm my nerves and settled my pin behind his shoulder. I attempted to stop him a few different time with no luck.

I’m not a fan of taking shots while deer are waking but one thing was for sure, at 20 yards broadside I was not letting this guy walk away. I waited for his front shoulder to go towards and I released my arrow. I could see it was a good shot and I got good penetration. He ran about 30 yards and stopped, looked around, took one side step, and crashed over. Once he fell, he was done.

Of course I had to call my wife and let her know that I had just killed the big 9. Within a few minutes of shooting him, deer literally piled into the thicket. I had to sit in the stand for almost an hour after that until the deer started to file out into the fields so that I would not blow my location.

There was no track job so I ran to the big deer and finally put my hands on his big rack! It all finally came together! Who would have thought a 3 acre plot that butted up against a regularly traveled state route, would produce a deer of this caliber. The buck officially scored 151″ 0/8 Buckeye Big Buck Club.

— Zach Cherryholmes

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