photo of a deer killed by Chris Crutchfieldphoto of a deer killed by Chris Crutchfieldphoto of a deer killed by Chris Crutchfield

Hunter: Chris Crutchfield

Points: 9 (4L, 5R)

County: Greene

Season: 2023-2024

Hunt Story

I had hunted this particular area from my climber a handful of times this season. It has become my "honey hole" the last few years, having harvested three beautiful deer (one 8 and two solid 10's). I hunted it once during bow season, once during black powder and had seen a few nice bucks but none I had established were one of the two target bucks I had identified from my trail camera. We all convened at camp on our infamous "Deer Eve" and the excitement was in "full rut." I hunted the stand once over the course of this weekend and saw more activity, but no shooters. With each sitting, I learned more and more about this specific area and had contemplated moving my stand about 75 yards. I wanted to be a little closer to where most of the activity was taking place. I had caught glimpses of a few questionable bucks working the same trail but I never seemed to be able to see them long enough to analyze them. As I started my final trek to my stand on Saturday morning, I could smell the strong, pungent smell of the tarsal glands of a deer nearby. I was a little later than normal and I decided to push on in an effort to make up for lost daylight. As I got closer to my climber, I bumped a deer out of the area and wondered all morning if this was one of those "bucks." I hunted late into the morning, climbing down around 1130, having seen two small bucks coming to a grunt call. Again, being a constant student of the woods, and having been armed with the new information learned from these two small bucks, I decided to move my stand about 75 yards South to where I had seen the most larger bucks over the past few years. The wind had picked up that afternoon and I knew if was not right for that area. I decided to hunt another area that evening and decided on a spot in the open hardwoods where the acorns were bountiful. I went old school, scraped out a large spot in front of an oak tree with the wind in my face. This was likely one of the most memorable hunts in the six or so years I've been in this club. I saw two different sets of deer come from two different directions at the same time. Two does and a 4 point in one, and five does and a spike from the other. The does were fine but the young bucks had something to prove. They sparred playfully for a few minutes then seemed to forget about each other and went back to eating acorns for the next hour. It was a beautiful evening and watching God's creation for that long was nothing short of amazing. As myself, "Bubba," "Lump," and "Slim" were putting our hunt plan together for the following morning, we all contemplated several different locations but never really decided on the "one." I made sure to get up earlier than the day before so I could be set well before sunrise. When I reached out cook shed, I was greeted by Bubba, our president. He is one heckuva deer Hunter and even more impressive story teller! He has been in this club the longest (25 years) and I rely on his experience and expertise a lot. I asked him where he was going and he quickly told me. I asked him what he thought about the "Connor Stand" which is basically in the area where I had placed my climber. He had instructed me to use the "voice in my head" as it "sometimes tells the truth." I decided to take his advice and head head off to my honey hole. As I was loading the ole Samarai with my gear, I noticed Lump and Slim coming in to get their mornin Joe before heading off to their spots. I told them I pegged in at the Connor Stand and wished them good luck. As I entered my final trek again on Sunday morning, I experienced a bit of deja vu. Once on top of the same knoll and upon entering the flat woods, I again smelled that raw scent of a rutting buck. I was much earlier this morning and decided to forge on as I had plenty of time to let things settle. I took about three more steps and heard the ever-present trot of a deer running off. This time, I decided to wait in the dark for 10-15 minutes before walking the final 250-300 yards to the climber, so as not to push the deer any further. I shimmied up the fresh pine for the first time and got settled by 620. As the heavens were breaking daylight over the horizon I sat in awe and knocked out a healthy prayer to my Lord and Savior above. Upon conclusion, I checked the wind and it was perfect and just felt like it was going to be a great morning. At about 715, I caught movement directly ahead of me coming from the edge of the pines and thicket area into the hardwoods. As the deer drew closer I could see it was a mature buck but wasn't sure if he was a target one or not. As I threw up the binoculars, I caught a glimpse of his split right brow tine and could see he had some serious mass. I quickly retrieved my rifle and watched his approach. He stopped directly facing me, rubbed his facial glands on a licking branch then pawed at the ground a few times. After rocking his head back and forth a few times he proceeded right towards me. Once he got about 60 yards away he started working towards to acorn-filled finger ridge and turned broadside presenting a perfect shot. I harvested this magnificent creature at 7:20 a.m. and he expired right in his tracks. It wasn't until climbing down and walking up on him that I realized how majestic he was and is to me. I believe he will score higher than any deer that I've even been blessed to have taken. You never know: if we take the time to listen to the expertise of those around us or even the inner voice in our head, it may just pay off. Regardless, remain respectful students of this privilege we are fortunate enough to call hunting.
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