Today’s great guest blog from Michael McCrary:
Mike: I’ve hunted since I was 10 years old in the middle Tennessee area, and this is by far the biggest deer I’ve seen in my 33 years of hunting.
This was on a new lease that we picked up last April. Our hunt group of 5 family members stumbled across this 450-acre lease in Perry County. My father and uncle quickly put out trail cams on old scrape lines and trails that meandered through mostly old cut overs.
I travel for work so was not able to go with the group to check the trail cams. I was getting ready to board a flight to Asia one day when my son sent out a text to the hunting group: You will not believe what we have on cam! As you can imagine my suspense was building and I had to ask him twice to send pictures.
When he passed along the pictures I couldn’t believe it. We first captured this deer on camera back on 8/25; he acted like he was at a photo shoot and literally posed at every angle! We ended up with 8-10 pictures that gave us a really good look at his crazy and irregular rack.
The next time he showed up was 9/29, and it appeared he had gone nocturnal. We had several more images on 4 different trail cams over a ½-square mile radius, all at night. Then on Oct. 22nd he showed back up, and we got good videos over a rub line of him feeding on tree leaves.
As all this was coming together the spot on the lease where I had picked to hunt had one picture of the big buck that I captured at night as he passed by the camera. As you can imagine our guys were quickly naming and claiming spots surrounding the area. I studied the terrain, as well as what could be the buck’s escape routes if the other guys jumped him. I then relocated my stand down the hollow about 150 yards from a previous spot that I had hunted in hopes to encounter the deer.
Then came opening day of the muzzleloader season and the anticipation was high. We had 2 days to hunt this property before going to a WMA over in east Tennessee to hunt with a group which is an annual event for us. On opening morning we all got to our entry points and proceeded to our hunt locations. It was an unusually warm morning with a southwest wind. I was set up in white oak tree that gave me the best vantage point overlooking some large rubs and scrapes.
At 8 am a 7-point walked within 10 yards of my tree and eventually made his way to a thicket and then out of sight. After about 30 minutes I heard what sounded to be a small tree falling, but when I scanned where the noise came from I saw a small 8-point and the same 7-point trying to move out of the way of a large 9-point that appeared to be running them off. The 9-point was a nice, solid buck for the area, 135 to 140, but with the pictures of “Big Ugly” I let him walk. Then nothing happened for 45 minutes.
Around 9:15 I looked over to where the other 3 bucks had been, and saw movement coming at me. I could see through the thicket that he had a massive rack that was both wide and tall. Soon I was able to make out the buck’s right side, the one with all the character. I knew I would most likely get a shot at this tremendous buck.
I raised my gun as he walked through the first clearing; he was quartering to me and his horns covered his vitals so I had to tell myself to let him keep coming. He turned head on as he walked into the next clearing, and I thought he would walk straight to me. He was about 40 yards away but then he stopped and looked down the hill—we were eye to eye as I had climbed a tree lower on the hill from him. He raised his head and spotted me in the tree. I was hesitant to shoot the deer straight on like that, but I decided to take the shot.
Smoke from the powder filled the air and I moved around trying to see through it. When it cleared this amazing deer lay dead 15 yards from my tree. Certainly a buck of a lifetime. Lots of character, and a total of 25-26 points. We think he will score around 190”. Thanks for listening, Mike
Mike, way to go man, truly awesome deer! Love the way your family hunts as a group, great tradition you guys have built. And there’s a lesson here: No matter how long you’ve hunted an area (more than 3 decades in Mike’s case) you never know when a giant buck will show up and give you that one in a lifetime opportunity. Keep at it!