Mike: I still have family in Ohio and have hunted there my whole life. About 5 years ago my buddy and I really started managing the Ohio farm we hunt. It didn’t take long for results to start showing.
I run some 9 cameras on 500 acres. One October, we got pictures of a true giant. I hunted him hard all year as the wind would allow to no avail. I think the deer actually had me patterned, ha! Two times I got pictures of him at my stand 15-20 minutes after I had left the stand.
Last year I got pics of a cool non-typical so I set out after him. On October 2 at 10:45 am, after 5 days of hunting the deer, I began thinking about and dreading the 7-hour drive home. As I stood up in my stand, I turned and saw a huge-framed deer making his way down the ridge. At 31 yards he put the brakes on, and I was able to get a shot.
I didn’t realize how big he really was until the recovery. The buck is a 9-point that grossed 169 1/8.” That deer got me fired up even more about managing for mature bucks. This year I stepped up the supplemental feeding and trail cameras. My goodness I started drawing in even more deer!
In October we started getting pictures of some mature bucks, and on October 24th I started getting pictures of the one that I would hunt. Of 10 cameras scattered around the farm, I was getting pictures of him on only 3; they were all at night and they were around the SW corner of the farm. That helped me narrow down his bedding area but made hunting him difficult. The closest I could get to him was in a thick, nasty creek bottom that would leave me limited on shots. The best I could do would be to hunt on a W wind, and that was pushing it.
Feeling the only time I could get a good chance at the buck was if and when he got on a hot doe, I waited and watched the weather. With a late 2nd full moon this year I was unsure… I had my doubts, but on November 5th the weather forecast looked good with W winds, so I packed up and headed north.
I snuck in the creek bottom and set up a Millennium lock-on. On Monday the 7th, I saw 11 different bucks cruising that bottom, and I had a feeling my timing was good. Tuesday I hunted daylight to dark and only saw 5 deer total; my mind started wandering…second guessing myself. But I decided as long as the wind was good I would stick it out.
Wednesday I snuck back into the stand. The morning was slow. By 10:45 a.m. I hadn’t seen a single deer. I started texting a friend who was hunting in Illinois to see if it was slow there too… It was, he texted back, ha ha.
I love hunting the rut, seeing bucks cruise and chase does, fight and carry on, but I had never seen this. At 11:15 am the woods exploded with noise. The big buck was chasing a doe across the near ridge; they were both running as hard as they could through the thick woods. The doe made a hard cut right and the buck plowed into her! They both lost their feet and slid on their sides. They regained their footing, the doe jumped the creek and turned to face the buck as he made the rest of the way down the ridge. At this point the doe was about 25 yards from me, quartering away, and he was 32 yards, quartering to.
My sight was set on 30 yards. I came to full draw and put the pin just in front of his right shoulder. My mind was clear and I started squeezing the shot. The arrow left the bow about the same time the buck decided to take off and resume his harassment of the doe. I heard the arrow smack and I was sick. The buck wheeled around with about 20″ of arrow sticking out of his face!
I immediately started cussing myself. The first thing I thought was that I would check all my cameras for the next few days to see if I could get pictures of the buck to assure he was still alive. I watched him run about 30 yards and he stopped. I could see that the arrow had entered his mouth and cut the jugular vein. He made it another 20 to 30 yards and fell dead.
Emotions ran wild. I called my wife, and she started crying, and heck I think I was crying.
I had the deer green scored by an official—186 6/8 inches. After the 60-day drying period, if the measurements hold, he will be the new Jackson County typical record. But no matter how that plays out, I couldn’t be more proud and humbled. What an amazing deer.
Mike, my wife and I love your show and what you stand for. If you’ve ever got an Ohio tag burning a hole in your pocket give me a shout. Thanks again, Paul M.
Congrats Paul, great buck!
Hanback note: Before anybody comes on here and starts criticizing Paul and the shot, let me say that after more than 30 years of bowhunting whitetails, I have seen and experienced some bizarre and hard-to-explain things.
The reaction time of a big buck, milliseconds, is truly astounding, whether he turns to run, takes off after a doe, ducks the string…whatever. I have watched in shock, awe and horror as bucks ducked, jumped and twirled, with my arrows sailing over or under them, and on occasion hitting nowhere near where I aimed. If you have bowhunted much and shot at many whitetails, you know what I’m talking about.
One time, I will never forget it, I shot at the left shoulder of a fine 11-point buck. The arrow hit with a twack, and the deer ran, spraying blood. I was feeling good and proud as I walked up to the buck. Upon examination, I saw that the arrow had entered the right side of his neck and passed through. Astonished and perplexed, I had the cameraman review and slo-mo the tape.
As the arrow cut 20 yards through the air, the buck ducked, whirled and did a complete 180 flip! The arrow hit the opposite side of the deer that I had aimed at, sliced through the right side of his neck and exited left. He ran about 50 yards and died quickly, as Paul’s buck did, and I was humbled and extremely grateful.
Strange things happen in the deer woods, especially when you’re archery hunting. Nothing surprises me anymore, but when things work out well in the end, it’s all good.