Great guest blog from my buddy Connor Burns from up in the Adirondack Mountains:
Three summers ago, we set out trail cameras at our camp in the great Adirondacks. We knew we had some good bucks on our property; we’d seen them during deer season the previous year.
The cameras had only been out a few weeks before the excitement got to us and we had to make the trip to camp to check them. As we scrolled through the pictures we were surprised at just how many bucks were on the property and consistently on camera.
One picture completely stunned everyone. There stood a beautiful, tall 11-point with a kicker off his left brow tine. Needless to say the picture made the rounds to every camp member very quickly. We knew then and there that this was the deer that we were determined to lay our hands on. This is the buck we would forever call “Big Mac.”
The deer season following came and went with pure disappointment–no sightings of Big Mac although we did end up taking a couple nice deer. Our hopes were still high that Big Mac was alive and well.
The next summer we put out our trail cameras like we always do. A few weeks passed before we checked them… to our surprise, there he was! Big Mac was back on camera and as big and beautiful as ever!
Unfortunately another season passed and we never saw Big Mac. We had a fantastic year and took quite a few nice bucks, but we were starting to wonder if we would ever see this magnificent buck in the wild. But his pictures kept our hopes high and kept us going.
This past summer 2018, we were more anxious than ever to get the cameras out and see if Big Mac had made it through the previous season and winter. Just like he had done the past two years, he stunned us again and showed himself on one of our cameras.
He had almost grown an identical rack for the past three years in a row. But now, he was bigger than ever. He was much thicker, taller and his belly sagged a little more.
On Saturday, November 10th, with a fresh 6 inches of snow on the ground and cold temperatures, we set out with high hopes. We pushed one of our most productive mountains on the property with four drivers and seven watchers on the back side of the mountain. It wasn’t long before the drivers were seeing fresh tracks all over the place and mostly headed to the watch line.
About halfway through the drive, the best sound in the world rang out across the mountain. A watcher had shot. Word spread quickly he had shot at a good buck with two does, but unfortunately he had missed. But we knew the deer was still in our drive and headed toward the next watcher.
With everyone’s hearts beating out of their chests, anxiously waiting to see what would happen next, another shot rang out from the watch line, this one higher up the mountain where the big deer and the two does were headed. Zach Palmer got on the radio and said we had a buck down! He said he had shot the deer at about 100 yards, and didn’t know exactly what he was, that all he had seen was horns.
The drivers finally came out to the watch line and the drive ended. We knew we had to head up the mountain to help with the buck that was on the ground. About halfway up the mountain, all we could hear was screaming and yelling. We heard, “You aren’t going to believe this! It’s him! It’s Big Mac!” Everyone starting sprinting up the hill.
We finally made it up to where Zach had shot and there the deer lay. The buck that had been haunting us for three years was in the snow in front of us, more magnificent than the pictures had ever shown us. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we knelt down and wrapped our hands around this beautiful buck, Big Mac.
This was truly a very special moment for all the guys of Trails End Camp and Northern Brothers Outdoors. It was a moment we will all remember for the rest of our lives. This was the buck that had kept us going year after year. We hiked miles and miles and worked our tails off each season in hopes of this moment.
This is the end of a chapter for us, but also the beginning of a new chapter. The chase is never over for us. This is what we love doing and is truly a brotherhood. We can’t wait to see which buck will show up next, and we’ll begin another amazing chase for the following seasons.
Big Mac was an 11-point that weighed 172 pounds dressed and was rough-scored at 143 7/8. He was mid-rut with a swollen neck and bark still stuck in his horns.—Connor Burns, Northern Brothers Outdoors and Trails End Camp.
POSTSCRIPT: I have hunted with this great group of guys up at Trails End Camp in the awesome Adirondack Mountains. They are dedicated and love what they do, hiking and pushing miles of rugged mountains day after day in search of a deer. This is one of the toughest places I’ve ever hunted, terrain-wise and deer density-wise, and I’ve hunted most every state where whitetails live. To kill any buck is a great accomplishment…to kill a mature 143” deer like Big Mac is off the charts great. Best part about it is that to these guys, who pulls the trigger means little. A buck like Mac, or a spike for that matter, is a trophy to cherish for all the camp members. Way to go guys, can’t wait to get back up there and run those mountains again with you soon.–Hanback