Today’s blog is a guest post from Dean Weimer:
In 2011 Virginia bowhunter James Edwards and some friends secured a lease on a central Ohio farm. That first year they set out trail cameras and started getting pictures of a wide and massive buck they named “The Big Seven Pointer.” They learned the buck was a homebody, and the most dominant animal on the farm. They had several encounters with him, but no one was able to seal the deal that year.
In the months leading up to the 2012 Ohio bow opener the hunters talked of the buck often, and he got a new moniker: “Old No. 7” The deer was gaining legendary status amongst the group.
“In late summer we started to get trail camera pictures, and were happy to see the buck had grown from a mid-130s 7-pointer to a high 140s mainframe eight with a split brow!,” says James.
On Nov. 2, 2012 Edwards left Virginia for the lease. Horrible traffic kept him from arriving in time to hunt that evening, but he was able to do some glassing as darkness approached. He spotted Old No. 7 with a hot doe in a 75-acre CRP field.
For two days James hunted and observed the buck, and learned a chink in Old No. 7’s armor. “I observed how he used the CRP to his advantage with the different winds and also learned of a specific section of the field where he felt safest,” he says.
James hunted for 12 straight days in November, but did not get a chance at the buck. He returned during Ohio’s late archery season and saw him two more times, but still no shot.
Later that winter James and his shed dog, Tine, found one of Old. No. 7’s sheds. More trail cam pictures last summer showed that the buck had made it through the winter and had “blown up in size,” says James, who was now thoroughly obsessed with Old No. 7. “Some nights I’d lay awake thinking of the buck and how to hunt him.”
Based on the previous year’s intelligence James formulated a plan for opening day of the 2013 archery season. “In the past we had used the same access path into the farm and I think the buck was onto us,” James theorized. “So I decided to come in the back way, which meant walking 300 yards through seven-foot-tall CRP to my stand.”
James scratched and clawed his way to the stand and got set up. The wind was perfect. Around 5:00 p.m. a group of does emerged from the CRP and meandered down a clover lane. A 130-class 8-pointer joined them. Things were starting to get interesting. More does, and another little buck. James thought, “That’s a lot of eyes and noses to fool should Old No. 7 show up.”
At 6:50 James looked up and there he was, closing at 50 yards! Old No. 7 worked in and put on a show. “He sparred with one of the younger bucks, and strutted circles around the does,” recalls James. Then all the deer settled down and resumed feeding 40 to 50 yards away.
“I’m old-fashioned and have never shot an animal beyond 40 yards,” says James. “I was not about to make this great buck be the first.” He waited, and Old No. 7 fed closer. James ranged him at 38 yards, slightly quartering away. He took a deep breath, drew his bow, settled his pin at the back of the ribcage and released. The buck bolted into the CRP, but he didn’t go far.
After three years of driving from Virginia to Ohio, then hunting hard for days and weeks, James finally settled the score with Old No 7. “It still hasn’t totally sunk in that he is gone from the farm,” he says. “It’s going to be a little lonely out there without Old No. 7…but I’m looking forward to seeing the buck that replaces him!”