Hunter: Grant Myland
Points: 10 (5L, 5R)
I went into the woods around 4 p.m. on September the 14th with great anticipation. I had seen this buck on camera most of last pre-season and season with no available shot opportunity. Last season, this buck was a main frame 8 with one kicker on his left G2 and two kickers on his right G2 that formed a trident shape. I had some concern after the season ended that the buck I had pursued all season might not have survived, as this area has a fairly good amount of hunting pressure and a major Hwy bordering the property. When the same buck showed up on camera pre-season this year, he had put on a noticeable amount of mass and had one kicker on each G2. After seeing the buck on camera in broad daylight on a fairly consistent pattern, I began this season understandably with pretty high hopes. After going three evenings and seeing plenty of deer but not this buck, thoughts began to creep into my head that despite every effort I had made to prevent any sort of detection, that somehow he still seemed to know that I was there... But instead of buying into this logic, I went Wednesday evening with great anticipation. Everything seemed different this evening. Multiple other bucks that I had also seen on camera began to filter in around 6. There was one other buck that seemed to always come in together with the buck I was after. I caught movement off to my left, with other bucks in front of me, and instantly recognized the movement as the other buck that seemed to always be with the buck I anticipated. As he slowly walked in, I clearly saw movement behind him. I knew in an instant that it was the buck I had been pursuing. He slowly walked in and my mind began flooding with the thoughts from lessons learned. "Don't rush it", "Make your shot count", etc. He stopped perfectly broadside in front of me at 20 yards. As my mind was saying, "don't rush this", it occurred to me that he was broadside at 20 yards, and the odds of being presented with the same or any better shot might be dwindling. I decided that I was going to go for it. I slowly began to draw, when at about 3/4 of the draw his head turned straight at me. Worrying that this opportunity might be about to be blown, I quickly but smoothly finished my draw, dropped my nose the last inch to the string, anchored behind my ear, and smoothly released. It seemed like slow motion and at the same time everything happened so fast, I heard a thud and a crack, noticed that my arrow had not passed through, and watched the buck take off after being hit with what felt like a well-placed shot. My mind instantly processed what had just actually played out. All at once the excitement took over and I began trembling as I kept thinking this really just happened. Almost as soon as the excitement set in, the worries began to creep in. "This is a stud", "Don't do anything that could possibly mess up the best potential to find this deer", etc. The buck had run the direction that I walk in and I absolutely did not want to bump this buck before he had completely expired. I had made up my mind that I wanted to wait an hour and a half minimum before going to attempt to retrieve this unbelievable buck. I decided that since I needed to grab a few things from my truck, that I could walk out the opposite way and circle back around to my truck. I made it to my truck and gathered what I needed. An hour an a half after the shot I walked back towards my stand in Hope's that he was down not and not far from where he was standing. I walked to the exact spot that he was standing and as I scanned, I found no sign. I slowly walked the path I had seen him take off and still saw no sign. I came up on where he went out of sight and found my broken-off arrow but no other sign. I continued down the direction that I believed he went and saw no sign. With nothing else to go off of I began to circle the area, slowly going further and further out. I had circled 4-5 times and went up onto two-foot rise and continued circling. I noticed my flashlight illuminate what looked like either brown hair or pinestraw. I thought to myself, surely not... I took a few more steps and it became obvious as the unmistakable outline of deer grew bigger and bigger. Realizing that this had really happened, I hurriedly approached the buck. Once making sure he had expired, I looked in disbelief, thinking to myself, this doesn't seem real...