Friday October 6th, I got a great Ontario (Canada) buck, my third buck ever, and my first "book-buck." Not B&C, but P&Y is good enough for me!
The farm I was hunting on is a hunter's dream. It's approximately 400 acres, 80% cultivated soybean fields (cropped & re-planted with wheat) but with several small cedar swamps, hardwood ridges, and grass-pastures. The lay-out couldn't have been planned better by someone who was setting it up for hunting. It's bordered on the South by a 4-lane Hwy, and the West by a large gravel pit. To the East are 200 acres of cedar swamp with no hunting allowed, and the North side is a 200 acre farm (all corn this year) that also doesn't allow hunters and patrols the area with ATVs looking for trespassers during hunting season.
In September of this year I went to the property owner and asked permission to hunt deer. At first the answer was a flat-out "no." The owner's wife loves deer, and no-one has hunted the farm since 1953. However, I mentioned that I had just released from the military, and it happened that he had served in the infantry in Korea, so after 20 minutes of shop-talk, he told me I could hunt, where to start looking, and even where to park my truck, with the caveat that if his wife caught me, she'd tan both our hides.
I wasted no time scouting out the farm, setting up trail cameras, following trails, making lots of noise and leaving my scent everywhere. Finally I'd picked a few likely stand locations for the various wind directions, morning & evening, and despite my best efforts to scare every deer into the next county, I was getting great trail-cam pics. Lots of does, lots of yearling and 2-year old bucks, and 2 respectable 3 year olds. The biggest 3 year old on camera was a wide 130-class 8-point that I busted while setting up a portable stand the first week of October. On a trip to check my trail cameras I also spooked a 10-point while walking through an old pasture. He waited to take off until I was less than 20 feet from his bed, and at that distance looked like an elk running away, and as he took off across the pasture he gave me plenty of time to take a couple pictures with my digital camera. So knowing that there were large deer in the area, I felt confident I could take a 3-year old or better buck on the property.
On October 26th, I got out to the farm late, and it had been bloody warm out all day so I didn't expect anything to be moving, I decided to clear a few shooting lanes to be at least a little productive. At the last second I grabbed my bow. With about 30 minutes of shooting light left the temperature was still in the 70s but dropping. I was still in my sweaty work pants and t-shirt, I didn't think I would see anything, but climbed into the stand anyways. 15 minutes later I was day-dreaming when a snap just to my left startled me, and seconds later I saw a buck moving down the trail, and he was a shooter for sure! At first I thought it was the 8-point from my trail cameras, but as he walked out of the thicket and I got a better view of his rack I could see he was a 10-point, and a nice one! No more hesitation. I hooked up my release aid and lifted my bow as he walked towards my shooting lane, where I have a trail camera set up. Right before the shooting lane, and the camera, he stopped, looked around, and then changed direction. Now he was quartering away from me, in the open, at 25 yards. I drew my bow, and settled the pin behind his shoulder, he was walking so slow I didn't see any reason to stop him, so I released. Even without being alarmed the buck still dropped at the shot, but I heard the "THWACK" of the arrow hitting his chest, and he took off, running 50 yards then button-hooking left into a patch of cedar swamp. I listened for the crash, but after a minute I had heard nothing, so I lowered my bow and got out of the stand.
With light fading fast I immediately recovered my arrow and was thrilled to see that it was lightly coated in bright red blood. I set my bow on the ground and practically sprinted up the ridge and back to my truck to get my flashlights & gear. By the time I got to my truck it had been about 15 minutes since I took the shot, so I drove my truck down the field edges as close to the sight as possible.
Armed with my flashlights now, I went in search for a blood trail. For the first 50 yards of his run I found no blood along his tracks, and was starting to get nervous. When I got to the spot he turned towards the swamp I found the first good sign; splatters of blood on the ground, and also on the side of the tree 3' from the ground. From there the blood trail was easy, he was sprinkling blood on the ground as he ran, but also spraying it out his left side on every tree he was close to. I tracked him 100 yards into the swamp and then there he was, right in front of me. Whether by coincidence or not, he was in between 3 trees that had recently been rubbed.
This buck had zero ground shrinkage, in fact he got bigger as I walked up to him! I had under-estimated the size of his rack, because of it's relative size to his body. My shot had hit high, and exited just below the centre of the chest, punching through both lungs. I quickly field dressed him, and using a tow-strap wrapped around his antlers, started dragging him back to the truck. Needless to say, hauling a buck through a cedar swamp is unpleasant at best. It took me almost an hour to get him the 200 yards to my truck, after that hauling him up onto my 2500's tailgate seemed like a piece of cake.
At home I had a bit of help from my buddies & dad hanging him up, and it's just as well. His field dressed weight was 236 lbs.
I was pretty excited as this is my first real decent buck, so just to get an idea I green-scored him myself. My conservative measurements came up with a gross score of 156" 2/8, and a net score of 149". I'm definitely not a proffessional measurer, but even if I'm way off, he's still well within the minimum size for Pope & Young, and I couldn't be happier. Interestingly enough, the rack is very symmetrical, with almost 4" of the deductions from the kicker on his brow tine. I love character points on antlers, so the kicker is my favorite part.
A week after shooting the buck, I checked my trail cameras again and found that I DID have pictures of the buck, on the 20th, and the 26th. More exciting are pictures of an even bigger buck, on the same cameras at slightly different times.
All that being said, what good's a story without pics? So here they are, some shots of my first "Book Buck!"
Here he is running off, first time I saw him
Here he is seconds before I took my shot
Walking up in the swamp
And the hero shots!
Next day photos
The trail-cam photos I got after he was down;
And finally, here's the next target; this buck showed up before mine at the scrape, and I've seen him several time since on other cameras around the farm. He's got 4 points on his right side, and 5 on his left, plus an extra brow-tine. I'm already after him, and I'm pretty pumped.