The best hunting in the VA Piedmont and Mountains occurs during the muzzleloader season the first 2 weeks of November. Many bucks are bonkers, either chasing or trailing does. Wayne Mills is an accomplished hunter who takes full advantage. Awhile back we profiled Wayne’s 2008 drop-tine giant. Here’s the story of the monster he killed on the same lease on Election Day last fall:
Mike: Two hunt club members saw this buck chasing does on 11/03, opening day of Virginia muzzleloader season. I took a doe on Saturday, so I had earned a buck according to club rules.
I couldn’t hunt on 11/5, but took off Tuesday morning, planning to vote around noon. I took along my decoy “Bucky” and set him 30 yards away along a right-of-way through a pine planting. I grunted every 10 minutes or so and saw several small bucks and a couple of does.
Around 8:00, I saw a doe being followed by a heavy-racked buck. She crossed the right-of-way 125 yards out, but he disappeared in the pines. A minute later I saw a rack coming out of the pines, but it was a basket-rack 8-point. He hit the right-of- way and I grunted, thinking he might be the big deer’s wingman. He stopped, saw Bucky and walked 100 yards straight to the decoy!
He stopped 20 yards away and just stared at it. I took almost 4 minutes of video with my phone as he stared off with the decoy. His body English was comical. He was about the same size as the decoy, and he probably had never a buck his size stand his ground. I think he came too close and didn’t know what to do.
After 5 minutes, I saw another rack moving in the pines, and immediately knew he was a shooter. At 80 yards, I could see the stickers on his G-2s and the palmation on the G-3s. No need for binoculars. He stopped as he approached the right-of-way and then cautiously took a few more steps. I had the crosshairs on his chest but kept saying to myself, “Wait till he turns.”
He took a few more steps, saw the small buck, stared for a few seconds and started to move closer into the open. Then he saw Bucky and seemed to say, “No, not on my turf!” He pinned his ears back and walked sideways into the open. At 60 yards I took the shot, slightly quartering to me. The buck put his tail up and ran back into the pines, as if I had missed. I waited 10 minutes and kept going over the shot in my head. I couldn’t have missed such an easy shot with a scoped muzzleloader!
I went to where he was standing and walked to a cedar tree he had run around, but couldn’t find blood. Searching and lining up the tree with the blind, I continued up the only trail he could have taken. After 5 minutes and no blood I started to think maybe I did miss. I walked another 10 feet, looked down and saw a drop of blood on a blade of grass…looked up ahead, another patch of blood and another…25 feet later there he lay! I had hit one lung, clipped another and tore up his liver. This is the second buck I have shot with a muzzleloader that didn’t bleed until he had gone 50+ yards.
He is a main-frame 9 with 15 scorable points…stickers on both G-2s…heavy palmation on his right G-3 and left G-4. Very symmetrical except for the 5″ G-3 on the left side and the crab claw on the right beam. Lots of character. Field dressed 175lbs. I donated the meat to Hunters for the Hungry and he will feed a lot of needy people.
He is at Wes’ Antler Ridge Taxidermy in Amissville right now. Don’t know how he will score after the rack dries, but he is another great buck I’ve been blessed with.—Wayne
Masive buck, great story, more proof that the early-November blackpowder season here in VA is as good as it gets.