A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to a story about Brad Duke, a North Carolina hunter who killed a big velvet deer one year after he fell from his tree stand while hunting that same buck. It was cool little story, but this expanded and personal version from Brad himself is way better:
It all started in 2011 when, I believe, “Stickers” was a 2 1/2 year-old. He was a small 9-point, and had not earned the name Stickers quite yet. The summer of 2012 rolled around, and he was now maybe a 125ish 9-point. I had tons of history with this buck already, but by no means was he on my hit list.
Then came the summer of 2013; that’s when Stickers earned his name. He was now a main-frame 10 with matching stickers off the G-2s and 1 off the base. Once again tons of history with him all summer and during the early bow season.
Then October 19th rolled around, a day I’ll never forget. As I climbed up to my stand a faulty strap broke on my top rail and I fell 21 feet. I was knocked out and laid at the bottom of the tree for 2.5 hours before coming to and realizing what had happened.
I gathered my thoughts and emotions, got up and crawled/walked back to my truck and drove home. My wife Lyndsey drove me to the hospital, where doctors told me I had a broken lumbar spine, 3 broken ribs and several compressed discs. Surgery was an option but I chose to go home and heal myself in the gym.
After recuperating, I still had some hunting to do in 2013. Friends Cory and Travis constructed a ground blind for me. Little did I know that from that blind the second week of December I would come face-to-face with the deer I called Stickers. With a rifle in hand, I chose to let the deer walk. And then a mere 2 days later, he gave me another opportunity, again with the rifle, and again I chose to let him walk. I grabbed my Whisper Creek and finished out 2013 trying to kill Stickers with my bow, but it never happened.
The summer of 2014 came, and Stickers was back as a main-frame 9, as he was in 2012. But now he was an absolute giant. I watched him all summer and got tons and tons of trail cam pics.
Opening day this season came with a northeast wind. And as he done all summer long, Stickers entered the beanfield and fed my way, toward a little waterhole that he visited every single day. I made the 45-yard shot and clipped the bottom of his heart. He piled up a short 85 yards away.
I finally had my hands on Stickers, the biggest deer of my life. A dream come true! At 161 inches he is by far my best buck. As I close the book on the buck I called Stickers I know he will be forever remembered and missed. For the last 4 years he was like an automatic image that would be on every cam I pulled because his home was my home. Truly blessed and fortunate is all I can say.—Thanks Brad Duke