photo of a deer killed by Dennis Thomasphoto of a deer killed by Dennis Thomasphoto of a deer killed by Dennis Thomas

Hunter: Dennis Thomas

Points: 11 (6L, 5R)

County: Dade

Season: 2019-2020

Hunt Story

Had quite a few trail-cam pics of this buck. I'm a whitetail bowhunter year-round, and generally select a specific buck (or couple if I'm lucky) to target. This buck was definitely the #1 target, but I did have another buck on camera which was also mature, and therefore would have harvested. I had this buck on camera last year, but I believed him to be 3.5 years old then, and I had a couple of other bucks who were the primary targets. I was lucky enough to take both of those bucks! Anyway, I felt like the weather conditions and rut phase was going to be good for Thursday, Dec. 5th, so I took an annual leave day to hunt where I believed would give me the best chance at the buck. I was in the stand well before daylight and had a couple of other deer meandering around me, but it was too dark to tell what they were. They moved on before I could get a good look. As sunrise approached, I heard something walking to my left on a short ridge which was only about 50 yards away. It was a small 8-pointer which was coming off the ridge and across a valley to my ridge. As he went down into the valley to my left, he looked at something behind me and down the valley. From the sound, there was something coming up from behind me in that valley, and was walking steady. Definitely sounded like a buck walking! I turned slowly to see the buck about 30 yards from me and walking up the valley toward my location. I knew in an instant what buck it was. As quickly as I could without moving too much, I reached up to get my bow off the hanger, and as he walked behind a small cluster of trees, I stood up. I didn't have shooting lanes cut down in the valley as it is very rare that I have ever saw a deer walking up or down it. I looked ahead of the buck and picked out a reasonable-sized opening between a tree and a vine, which I thought would offer me the first opportunity of a good shot. As the buck walked into that opening, I simultaneously bleated at him and drew my bow. The pin settled midway up the vitals, and I pulled through the hinge release to fire the arrow. The white nock disappeared into the buck's side perhaps and inch or so higher than my aiming point, but the shot looked and sounded good. The buck took off and ran just out of my sight, and I heard him crash. That's always a good feeling, but I still wanted to error on the safe side, so I called my wife (who had not left from work yet) and told her, then I called a friend who worked nearby. I wanted to wait 30 minutes before I climbed down out of the tree... just to be extra cautious. Well, about 20 minutes went by and I saw another smaller buck go over to the area where I thought my buck had went down. I didn't want this buck to attack the big buck that was down, so I decided to climb down and very slowly head to where the buck should be laying. I walked down in the valley and looked at the arrow. It looked very good with blood and the appropriate color hair on it. I left the arrow and walked to old roadbed around to where I thought the buck fell. I was very careful, only taking a couple of steps at a time and then glassing with my rangefinder to see if I could spot him. I was getting worried because I didn't see him, but then I saw his tail on the ground. He had stumbled back down toward the valley, and his tail was all I could see. About that time, my wife and friend came down the road and we celebrated and took pics before the work began. 🙂
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