Against All Odds, A Fulton County 165-Inch 12-Point Buck
Bob Coombs finally encountered a buck named “Elvis,” and The King is down.
The Atlanta suburbs strike again. Another bow-buck with a rack so wide and so tall that it just doesn’t seem possible deer get this big, much less in areas where ribbons and patches of woods are a tiny fraction of the landscape, where what little habitat there is gets squeezed and cut off more every year by houses, busy roads and shopping centers.
On a hunt the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, the odds for success were close to nil. For starters, this huge buck never showed up during daylight, not once during 109 prior hunts did the deer offer even a fleeting glimpse. Even with 20 different trail cameras running, the 12-pointer named Elvis offered daylight pictures only twice since bow season opened, and one of those was 2 minutes before legal shooting hours ended.
How could this 110th time in a stand possibly be the morning?
Then there were the conditions and crazy circumstances of the hunt. A torrential rainstorm was followed by winds whipping so hard that Bob Coombs literally hugged the tree several times. And then, a bowhunter’s worst nightmare at the long-awaited moment of truth, when Bob accidentally touched his release while moving into position at full draw, sending an arrow 10 feet behind the giant buck that had never been seen from the stand before despite all those sits.
Even if he had not gotten another arrow nocked and sent it perfectly, dropping the buck after it barreled just 40 yards, even if Bob had not killed Elvis, the buck of his obsession, he described this as the hunt of lifetime.
It began as Bob stood in the stand shaking with anticipation an hour before daylight as deer were literally tearing up the woods.
“I could hear grunting, chasing, antlers crashing as bucks fought, does bleating, limbs breaking—it was all going on right there, and I couldn’t see a thing in the dark,” Bob said.
The story of Bob Coombs and the buck he named Elvis, “Because he’s the King,” begins late in the summer.
“I found him in August,” Bob said.
Bob has a tree service business, and the buck was on a client’s property. He got permission to run cameras on four properties—two of those tracts he could also hunt, two he could not. An ultimate key, Bob feels, to finally getting a shot at Elvis, was a food plot he planted on one of the tracts where he had permission to hunt.
“I put in a food plot, and I could water it,” Bob said. “It was knee-high. I had clover, rape, wheat, rye. He fell in love with that food plot, but he would only come at night.”
Bob was running 20 trail cameras, 12 of them cellular, but he far from had this big buck pegged and patterned.
“He would disappear for two weeks at a time, and he was so nocturnal. Then he completely abandoned the property where I had a feeder. It was like he was spooked by the corn. But he would still come to the food plot. On the 21st he showed up two times during daylight, at 6:45 a.m. and 3:33. There was a doe in the background, he was with a doe.”
And where was Bob?
“I was on vacation. It literally was killing me when I got those pictures. Besides this one other time when I got a picture at 6:44 p.m. with only 2 minutes of legal shooting time left, the 21st was the only time he came during legal shooting hours, and I was on vacation. I had been hunting just about every morning and every evening and never saw him.”
After an evening hunt on Tuesday, Nov. 26, Bob replaced an umbrella over his stand.
“After the hunt I was thinking, ‘Do I go to the car and get the umbrella? I almost didn’t, then I thought, ‘Yes, you don’t want to take a chance.’”
A front was coming through the next morning, and the forecast called for a wave of heavy rain.
“I wake up the next morning at 5:15 a.m. At 5:23, I said to my girlfriend, ‘He’s there right now.’ I just had a feeling. She said, ‘Get your butt in the woods.’ I got in the stand an hour before daylight. I never do that. I believe it puts too much scent in the woods. As soon as I got in the stand, I started hearing deer all around me. They were in the woods going at it—fighting, grunting antlers hitting, snort-wheezing, does bleating, sticks crashing all around me. In the dark I couldn’t see a thing.
“All of a sudden, it started raining, and it rained hard. It was pouring. I tucked in tight to the tree and hung my fanny pack right up under the umbrella to keep it dry. I thought, these deer are going to bed down in this rain. I looked at the radar and could see the line was moving through. Then the rain quit, and it got so windy. Three separate times I was holding on to the frigging tree it was blowing so hard. I felt the deer had bedding down during the storm, and I thought, ‘I’m going to grab my rattle bag and hit it so hard.’ I gave it a whack-whack-whack. About 5 seconds later I had to freeze because a little buck was coming through the food plot behind a doe. She ran him off, and she’s looking back in the woods, and I’m thinking ‘Oh boy.’
“Then the doe tries to wind me. The wind was perfect, but then it would switch. She was right there in the food plot, and the leaves are now blowing right toward her. I was hugging the ozone generator, breathing into it, hoping she wouldn’t wind me. And she didn’t. She slipped off going toward another property, and that’s when I sat down for the first time of the hunt. I was trying to marry my Go Pro with my phone, and it wasn’t working, and then I looked up there she was again to my right in the woods. She looked back, and another doe was coming in, and they started fighting, up on hind legs. The fought it out for 7 or 8 seconds, and the doe that had been trying to wind me ran the other doe off. She was the dominant doe. She walked back to the edge of the food plot and looks back, and it’s him. He was shaking off from the rain. Just incredible. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I’m saying to myself, ‘Keep your cool Bob.”
“He holed up at the woodline, checking it out. The wind was perfect. I’m hunting out of an API climber that I put climbing sticks up to it. The bow was too close to the part that the chain goes to, so I’m moving to get in position for the shot, and I discharged the arrow—accidentally hit the release. The arrow went 8 feet behind him. He’s looking off in the food plot in the other direction. He’s stomping his feet, but he’s looking the other way. There was so much wind, leaves falling and limbs had been falling. He was spooked but he couldn’t figure it out, and the doe was still there. I slipped another arrow in, nocked it as quick as I could, and I let it go. As soon as I shot, I said out loud, ‘Perfect.’ It was a perfect shot.
“I heard him hit a tree, and he crashed. I heard a big thud. He was down. When I went to him, I walked around the food plot so I wouldn’t mess up the blood trail, just in case. But he was right there. He went 40 yards downhill. I stopped before I got him, got on my knees, and I cried a little bit. I did.
“Just so much went into this. Just three days before I ran a poacher off. He had just pulled in for a hunt, and I got to him so fast he burned rubber all the way out the road.
“I will never forget this hunt. To discharge that arrow…
“That was only the second time I’d seen the deer. I saw him in velvet in August. Literally only the second time even on camera he’s shown up during daylight, and I was on vacation the other time. His pattern changed—he had no pattern really. No rhyme or reason. He didn’t like the feeder—something about him, maybe something he figured out. Maybe it was the acorns, but he abandoned the feeder completely. Gone. He never went back to the feeder.”
This buck was also different than many of the suburban giants because the tracts of woods were larger in his area.
“He was comfortable in one tract no one had access to,” Bob said. “That was big woods hunting—not the typical urban hunting. He had access to big tracts.”
The buck had a mark on its back that looked like razor slice.
“I thought it was from a broadhead, but my taxidermist thinks it was a tine. He was gored and roughed up, he had three tine marks in his belly.”
Elvis is a 12-pointer with a main-frame 5×6 rack with one sticker at the base. The inside spread is 21 2/8 inches, and he has a 8-inch G4 on the right that if he’d matched on the left would have put him way into Booner range. They’ve taped the rack at 165 inches and some change.
“What a morning that was,” Bob said. “I haven’t put that much effort into a deer since Brutus.”
“His genetics are same as Brutus, you can see it. But they were killed 8 to 10 miles away from each other.”
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