Solunar Table Leads To Midday Velvet Buck

A 'male parts' issue likely had this buck holding onto its velvet.

John N. Felsher | November 2, 2022

Sylvan Anderson, of Hiram, with a midday buck he shot in Paulding County.

Few people ever get to see a large buck in velvet, much less bag one. Fewer people ever see a 14-point whitetail, much less shoot one. Sylvan Anderson, of Hiram, did both on the same day.

White-tailed bucks shed their antlers in late winter. In the spring, antlers start growing again. A soft, hairy, velvet-like outer layer filled with blood covers the nascent antlers as they grow.

By late summer, the fully formed antlers harden and the velvet covering begins to shed. To accelerate this process, bucks habitually rub their new antlers against saplings and other hard objects. Most often, bucks shed their velvet long before hunting season begins. Therefore, except in places with very early season openings, few hunters ever down a deer in full velvet. With brand-new racks, mature bucks battle for territorial and breeding rights in the fall or winter.

Sylvan’s father, Scott Anderson, recently bought an 8.5-acre piece of property in the suburbs of Paulding County just northwest of Atlanta. Houses and some commercial properties surround the plot, not the type of place someone would want to fire a 7mm magnum at first light. Many years ago, a house stood on the property, but no longer. Hardwoods, such as water and white oaks mixed with some pines grow on the tract. A creek runs through it.

“I don’t know how long it’s been since anybody hunted that piece of land,” Sylvan said. “Nobody has been on the property for a very long time. I live five minutes away from it and thought it would be a good spot for a deer. It’s really a beautiful little piece of heaven in a place that’s pretty developed.”

Sylvan walked the property and found abundant deer sign and plentiful mast. He placed a game camera overlooking a trail that “looked like the interstate.” Soon, the camera started transmitting photos to his phone.

“When I started getting photos from the camera, it blew my mind,” he said. “I got pictures of an 11-pointer that I really hunted hard. It was my main target buck. In early September, I got a video of a bigger deer, but I couldn’t tell how many points he had. I didn’t think I’d ever get that bigger one on camera or see him again. Both deer were in the same area.”

Sylvan set up a TomCat II climbing stand about 75 yards from the camera. Over the course of about two weeks, he spent approximately 80 hours in the stand observing deer.

“I saw a lot of other deer, including many does and a few fawns, two small 8-pointers, a 6-pointer and a 4-pointer,” Sylvan said. “I learned much about how deer behave. I even saw some in velvet and some coming out of velvet. I watched how deer browse. I could hear them chewing acorns. Once, a fawn took a nap for about 30 minutes almost beneath my stand while mom was eating. I don’t think these deer have ever been hunted in their lives.”

Sylvan consulted the solunar tables that predict the most and least active feeding times for fish and game based upon the positions of the moon and sun. For Sunday, Oct. 9, the tables predicted that game would be most active during the middle of the day. At about noon that day, he climbed into his stand armed with a PSE Thrive crossbow topped by a Vortex Crossfire scope.

“I’ve had very good success on mature deer using those tables in the past,” Sylvan said. “Many hunters only hunt early in the morning and late in the afternoon. That’s how I’ve always hunted as well, until I started paying more attention to the solunar tables. I see a lot of midday activity from big deer.”

Soon, Sylvan heard something moving along the ground to his left but couldn’t identify the source. Then, he caught movement out of his peripheral vision. He spotted a huge deer about 25 yards away coming in from the right and moving directly away from him into really thick cover.

“I knew exactly which deer it was when I saw him, the enormous non-typical buck I had only seen once on my trail cam,” Sylvan said. “I was shaking really bad. I reached for my grunt call and let out two soft grunts. The deer disappeared into the thick cover. I was trying really hard to see him, but thought I wouldn’t see him again. About three minutes later, this bruiser circled back behind me and was slowly quartered away at about 12 yards.”

On a previous trip, Sylvan spotted the 11-pointer, but it stood a bit too far away to take an ethical shot. He chose to let the deer pass and it disappeared into the forest. He did not want to let this bigger buck go.

“When that 14-pointer disappeared, I thought it happened to me again,” Sylvan said. “I had a good opening between two trees. The buck stepped right into the sweet spot 12 yards away. The first reticle on my crossbow was set for 20 yards. At 12 yards, I hoped I wouldn’t shoot too high. Shaking, nausea and excitement hit me like a freight train. I’ve hunted my entire life and killed plenty of bucks, but I’ve never been shaking like when I took aim at that 14-point. I was very nervous about my shot placement.”

At 1:29 p.m., Sylvan pulled the trigger, launching the bolt. Sylvan heard a loud thump, as if the arrow struck a rock. He watched the big buck run off, swerving like a drunk driver through the brush and timber.

“He staggered about 30 to 40 yards,” Sylvan said. “I saw him stand up on his back legs and drop to the ground behind some brush. I heard the crash. I waited exactly 43 minutes before slowly climbing down out of the tree. I walked half the distance to where I shot him and couldn’t see the arrow or any blood. While looking for blood, something caught my eye right where the deer crashed. I looked up and spotted huge antlers walking slowly away from me. Immediately, I thought I made a bad shot and the buck jumped up. That upset me.”

Worried that the deer got away, Sylvan called his father and said, “I just shot the biggest deer of my life and he got back up.”

Scott said, “Pull out now! We’ll go back out right before dark to see if we can find the deer. You might want to find a good tracking dog just in case.”

“I started to second guess my shot placement and beat myself up greatly for the next four hours,” Sylvan said. “That was a long, nauseating four hours. To wait that long was a killer. I took a shot at the biggest deer of my life and watched him crash. Then, I watched antlers moving away from me.”

Sylvan contacted Joseph Mullins, who has a tracking dog named Hank. About an hour before dark, Sylvan, along with his wife Michelle and their 6-year-old son, Walker, and 2-year-old son Weston, met with Joseph. Mullins instructed the group to remain at least 20 yards behind Hank so they wouldn’t interfere with the dog’s tracking.

“Hank walked very slowly and went straight to the arrow,” Sylvan said. “It was covered in blood, so I knew I made a good shot. Hank kept trailing, and we found the deer. It died exactly where I saw him stand on his hind leg and crash about 40 yards from my stand. The big antlers that I saw walking away belonged to the 11-pointer. On that day, I never saw that 11-point deer until after the 14-point crashed. I had no idea it was in the area. The shot was perfect and all of my waiting was for nothing.”

Sylvan with his 6-year-old son, Walker.

The Muzzy MX3 fixed broadhead did its job. The crossbow bolt hit the 14-point buck in full velvet slightly behind its front leg. It passed all the way through the deer and came out of the buck’s chest. The deer died quickly. The 14-point non-typical gross scored 149. Sylvan’s dad and brother helped carry out the massive buck, estimated to weigh about 200 pounds on the hoof.

“The velvet had a beautiful white color,” Sylvan remarked. “I brought the deer to a taxidermist who said he had never seen white velvet in his 20 years as a taxidermist, except for one axis deer that came from out West. The backstrap went from my hip to my ankle. I’ve never seen anything like it. My main goal next is to see Walker shoot his first deer.”

Sylvan started taking Walker hunting when the boy was 3 years old. This year, he bought Walker a single-shot .243 New England rifle, but it would be too dangerous to shoot on that small piece of property within the city limits.

“I’ve never killed a deer in velvet before and never killed a buck with archery equipment before that day,” Sylvan said. “I tried to hunt with a compound bow in the past but got out of it. I killed a doe with a bow many years ago. The buck had a crushed testicle. That’s probably why he stayed in velvet. What a hunt! What an October day to be in the woods. Shooting that deer might have ruined me for the rest of my career in the woods. I don’t know if I can ever top that deer.”

Paulding County Best Bow Bucks Of All-Time

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5122 5/8 Scott Payne2019PauldingBowView 
6122 4/8 Corey Smith2014PauldingBow
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8119 Hunter Galloway2022PauldingBow
9118 7/8 Corey Smith2010PauldingBow
10118 4/8 Derek Dubois2023PauldingBowView 

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