photo of a deer killed by Joel Uptonphoto of a deer killed by Joel Uptonphoto of a deer killed by Joel Upton

Hunter: Joel Upton

Points: 10 (5L, 5R)

County: Hancock

Season: 2023-2024

Hunt Story

In early September we set up all of the feeders and trail cameras. This particular deer showed up along with other large deer on one of the big hay fields a few days in a row but in the middle of the night. Since I coach my son’s ball team, I was unable to do much bowhunting, but it was our assumption that it would take a cold day in November and full rut to bring him out and hopefully he wouldn’t get taken by the adjacent hunt clubs. On this particular weekend, I had hunted with my father and he had taken a nice 8-point Friday evening, but we had to travel back home on Saturday so I could coach the Championship game. This was killing me since I had already missed opening weekend due to back to back playoff games on the previous Saturday and Sunday! While we were eating breakfast at my house Saturday before the Championship game, Dad’s cell camera in another nearby field with a food plot alerted and it was a side profile of this buck walking by at a distance and not in the food plot. Not realizing it was the same buck from early September, we booked it back to that hunt location Saturday evening after winning the game (3rd Championship in a row). We both sat together in the tower and it was very warm in the mid to upper 70s, never mind the full moon. We only saw small deer that evening, but after the hunt we decided it would be best for me to hunt that stand again in the morning since we figured the buck was still in the area. On Sunday morning, I dropped Dad off at a tower on an adjacent field and I went back to the tower. I decided to stop the buggy about halfway to the field and I walked the ATV trail with no flash light… thank you moon! I quietly made it to the stand and got set up and shut my eyes since it was 6:30 a.m., about an hour before light. As the morning went on, no deer showed up, but then a 3-point crossed the small field to the food plot. He eventually walked over and met up with a small 8-point that I hadn’t noticed over to the right. They sniffed each other then went into the woods together. I continued to watch the small field, and at about 8:45 I saw the buck cross the end of the field from right to left at about 131 yards. I quickly got the rifle up and yelled a grunt at him with my voice and he didn’t stop. He went behind a tree that was in the middle of the small field and when he reappeared I yelled really loud and he stopped without looking. I made the shot with my .325 WSM and he ran back down a short opening cut back into the woods, and I saw him crash about 60 yards from where he was shot. I immediately got down and walked over to see him and then realized he was the one I was after from the trail-camera pictures!
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