The Story Of Lucky Seven

Three cracks at this Hancock County buck to seal the deal, then his antlers fall off...

Reader Contributed | December 26, 2023

What a story! It took Matthew Ellis three encounters with this Hancock County buck to finally seal the deal. When he finally put his hands on him, the antlers fell off.

By Matthew Ellis

On Sept. 18 at 7:37 p.m., I got the very first picture of a Hancock County deer I ended up naming Lucky Seven. It was very evident that he was 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-years-old with great mass and tine length, putting him at the top of the hit list.

From Sept. 18 through opening day, he was coming in regularly at 7:30 in both mornings and evenings. Where I hunted seemed to be his core area. My stand is located on a long roadbed in planted pines about 500 yards long on a hill. It ends in the creek bottom that is covered up with persimmon and oak trees.

Opening of rifle season couldn’t come soon enough as the pictures of him continued to come in every day.

On opening morning of rifle season, Oct. 21, I was finally in the stand for the first hunt of the year. As the sun lit up the sky, I could already see deer in the field. My excitement for him to step out began to build as I watched the clock get closer to 7:30 a.m., his normal feeding time.

At 7:35, he stepped into my rye field and started feeding. I slowly grabbed my rifle and set my sights on him, calmed myself down and made the shot. As the smoke cleared, I saw him hit the ground chest first, and then he ran out of the field.

After waiting a while, I got down and checked for blood. After only finding a little blood, I called a dog tracker. With no luck, I called another, and we came up empty-handed again. After two dog trackers and eight hours of searching, we concluded he was hopefully going to make it. After checking the camera for weeks, it seemed as if he was gone, at least so I thought.

Then, on Nov. 7 at 7:52 a.m., much to my surprise, he was back on trail camera. It was at this moment that he deemed the name Lucky Seven. The pictures showed very clearly that I had hit him just below the belly in his leg. It was swelled up, and it was apparent he couldn’t put much weight on it. I was excited he was still alive but upset with how badly he was wounded. I prayed for another chance to take him out of his misery. He was very lucky to still be alive.

On Nov. 10 at 4:45 in the afternoon as I was sitting in the stand, he limped out into the field. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was getting a second chance. Filled with excitement, I grabbed my gun and waited for him to turn broadside. He limped down the field, and he finally turned at about 100 yards. Through all the excitement, I rushed the shot and missed him. Filled with frustration within myself, I packed my stuff and headed home that Sunday. I was sure I had scared him off for good and would never see him again.

On Dec. 9, four long weeks after missing him on the second chance he provided me, I was finally back in the stand. Much to my surprise, he had started showing back up that week on Monday Dec. 4. He was coming back in regularly at 7:30 a.m. to feed. I was sure I would see him. As several deer entered the field and started feeding, I was anxiously waiting until he came out at his normal time. At 7:25 a.m., he stepped out into the same field for the third time, presenting a perfect broadside shot. I raised my seat up to better my angle and steadied myself against the stand. I took the shot. He ran out of the field hard, fast and low to the ground as he appeared to be wounded. I heard him crash for about five seconds and then it stopped.

After waiting 10 minutes, I slowly walked to where I had shot him to look for blood, but there was nothing. I went and sat back in the stand for an hour and a half and then got back down to check. I was full of doubt, but I knew I had to go look around some more. As I was walking through the woods and thickets without seeing any blood on the ground, I was gonna give up my search, until I looked up and saw him. There he was, much to my surprise, piled up in a thicket lying 20 yards away from where I was standing. Ironically, he had crashed right where I had found the first bit of blood from shooting him the first time opening weekend.

As I took in the moment, I began to call and FaceTime everyone I could think of showing off my trophy. Finally, the story of Lucky Seven had come to an end, or so I thought. As I started to load him onto the back of my 4-wheeler, both antlers popped off. After three long hunts and three shots finally getting my hands on him, his horns fell off. What a crazy story!

Nonetheless, I had harvested my target buck after my third opportunity. After 12 long weeks from the very first time I saw him on camera until then I was finally able to lay my hands on him. What an incredible ending to such an amazing story. This animal has provided so much wisdom to me as a hunter. You just never know what could happen if you stick to it and keep hunting.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.