Six-Year Quest For Dodge County Buck
Eric Payne, of Eastman, finally gets his hands on buck he's hunted for a long time.
On Nov. 4, Eric Payne, of Eastman, ended a six-year chase for a Dodge County 9-pointer. His first encounter with the buck occurred in 2013 when he first noticed it on a trail camera that captures video.
“I started getting video of a nice 8-pointer, and I remember thinking what a pretty deer. I passed on him that year and said, ‘Well, maybe he’ll make it next year,’” said Eric.
It would be six long years before Eric even saw the deer on the hoof again. After the first video of the buck in 2013, it was two years later before Eric even knew the deer was alive.
“In 2015, he showed up a couple times on video,” said Eric. “I found his whole set of sheds that year and one side in 2016, and he then turned into a ghost.”
Eric’s next encounter with the buck wouldn’t take place until Nov. 4, 2018 when he decided to hunt a ladder stand in a creek bottom that overlooked a logging road.
“This was probably only my fifth hunt of the year and only my second evening hunt,” Eric.
Until recently, the wind had not been right to hunt that stand, but fortunately, it was perfect for hunting on that afternoon. The east wind was hitting him in the face, and the action got started about 5:30.
“I hadn’t seen anything, and then all of a sudden, two does approach to my right about 30 yards behind me,” said Eric.
While staying completely still, he noticed the does stood there as if they did not know what to do next. Then, the wind must have swirled, and one of the does started stomping her hoof and blowing.
“She did that for what seemed like five minutes, and then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a buck approach from behind the lead doe.”
Once the buck reached the doe, he ran her back from the direction she had come.
“I was actually trying to get set up on this buck because he was a good buck,” said Eric. “Then out of nowhere a big-bodied, tall-horned deer showed up.”
It was Eric’s buck, the one he first spotted in 2013, and it now had an impressive 8-point rack.
“He ran the other buck off, but then he came back and got with the does,” said Eric.
He began bird-dogging the does about 40 yards behind Eric’s stand. It was thick, and all Eric could do was wait for a shot opportunity.
“I remember telling myself as he’s pushing the does away from me that If he stays his course, I’ll have a small window of an opportunity in a clearing,” said Eric.
For what seemed like an hour of waiting, the buck finally walked into that clearing.
“He made his way to that clearing, stopped, picked his head up, looked in my direction, and I then pulled the trigger and dropped him on the spot,” said Eric.
Eric climbed down and was able to finally get his hands on the buck he’d been watching since 2013.
“I can’t describe the happiness I felt when that deer hit the ground. Not everybody knows what it’s like to pursue such an animal for so long,” said Eric.
Eric believes that when he first saw the deer in 2013 he was a 2 1/2-year-old buck, which would have made him a 7 1/2-year-old when Eric finally took him. Based on the sheds he found, Eric believes the deer antlers were at their best in 2016.
Eric was uncertain what the main-frame 8-pointer will score when he does have it officially measured and entered into GON‘s County-by-County rankings for Dodge County.
The buck was not entered into the Truck-Buck contest because Eric was not a subscriber prior to taking his buck.
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