Danny shot the beautiful buck his wife had named “Spike” last Friday. His story:
I had my trail cameras set at three different locations since the middle of June. I studied all the pictures (around 200 of them) I got of Spike. I printed out the moon phases and the wind directions for the past couple months, compared them and tried to come up with a game plan.
Maryland bow opener was Sept 6–the morning after the new moon. The wind direction was supposed to be out of the NNE. I looked back through all the cam pictures, and it just so happened the last time we had a NNE wind was the morning after the new moon in August. Spike was at the location I call The Puddle on that very morning.
A NNE wind would be perfect for The Puddle stand, so I made up my mind that was where I would sit. Last Friday, my alarm went off at 4:30 and I got ready to go. The Puddle is only a 10 minute hike from my back door.
I was settled in the stand at 5:15. First deer on the scene was a fawn still covered in spots. It was still a long time till legal shooting light. Around 6:00 I stood up to look across the field through my binos. It was still too dark to see much. As I sat back down I noticed the back end of two large deer skirting right past The Puddle. My heart sank. I thought for sure that it was Spike and his summer companion, “Twisted 8.” I couldn’t believe he had just walked by me before legal shooting time!
I sat there for 15 more minutes and saw more deer about 100 yards out in the bean field. I put up my binos and saw 4 basket bucks. The last one raised his head, and I knew it was Twisted 8. When I saw him I knew Spike was nearby.
That is when the parade began. In total there were 12-15 bucks. I never really took an exact count because Spike was pulling up the rear and I was focused on him. My heart started to pound and my legs began to shake. I couldn’t believe my plan had worked, so far at least. For the next 10 minutes I watched this group of bucks push each other around and slowly make their way toward The Puddle. All the while Spike just kind of held back and watched over everything.
Finally the smaller bucks came in, and I began to get nervous. I had several bucks less than 10 yards from my stand; Spike was still holding back at 40 yards and I didn’t have a shot. He started to move. I had earlier ranged a clump of grass at 24 yards. He was about three steps behind that clump when he turned perfectly broadside and looked behind him. It was now or never. I decided to draw my bow and not pay attention to all the other deer.
A wide 6-pointer saw me. He jerked his head straight up and let out a snort. In my sight window I was looking directly over his head and my pin was behind Spike’s shoulder. I knew I didn’t have long so I squeezed the trigger on my release. I watched the arrow hit perfectly, and he took off.
He ran about 100 yards into the middle of the beans and stopped. I looked through my binos and kept saying, “Go down, go down…” Instead, he turned and walked away, acting as if he was not hit. In agony I watched him walk 230 yards across the bean field and out of sight.
I had shot at 6:33 am. I decided to go home and wait a while. At 8:00 I made my way back to the bean field. It was very easy tracking–blood everywhere in the beans. I was convinced I would walk up on him anytime.
When Spike got to the end of the field he made a left turn. I couldn’t believe he was still going. He walked along the edge of the field for about 75 yards, and then turned back into the beans. Then I saw a hole in the beans up ahead. I just knew he was going to be lying in the middle of this spot. I slowly crept up. There was a huge puddle of blood with my arrow in the middle of it.
Now I started to worry. Did he lie down to die and I pushed him? I followed the trail another 20 yards to the edge of the thickest woods you can imagine. I marked the spot, backed out and called my buddy Justin.
Justin showed up around 10:00. We got back on the trail and tracked him for another 200 yards, on our hands and knees at times. Neither of us could believe the deer had gone this far. Spike had done a figure 8 move back across his own tracks and we couldn’t figure out which way to go. We decided to back out and regroup. I drove to the nearest convenience store and got a bottle of Pepto Bismal. I was flat out sick.
Later, my two nephews, Tanner and Colby, and the neighbor boy, Kyle, showed up to help. We searched for hours, started circling, and I was getting desperate. Suddenly Kyle started screaming, “Danny, Danny, Danny… I found him, I found him!” I headed that way, grabbed Kyle and gave him a bear hug. It must have been a big one, because he squealed in pain.–Danny
At 8:52 a.m. last Friday Danny wrote me from his Smart Phone: “Shot him at 6:33. Tracked for 400 yards, backing out now.” We corresponded several more times as he trailed. I told him to stay calm and stay confident. I had a suspicion the shot was a one-lung. A buck so hit can go a long ways, he lies down and the blood dries up. Tough. But I didn’t tell Danny any of that, he had enough on his mind.
Danny says now: “My shot was perfect on entry. However, it deflected off a rib and angled back into the guts. The arrow hit only one lung and the liver.”
Later, as he celebrated with friends and neighbors, Danny sent me a photo of the hand-written score sheet. Spike had 20 6/8-inch beams…11-inch-plus G2s…10-inch-plus G3s…scored 164 and change.
What a tremendous job of scouting this buck…studying and analyzing the moon and wind…staying on the tough blood trail and finding him. That’s about as real and hard-core as it gets. Congrats, Danny, and thanks for taking us along for the ride.