Hunter: Josh McKenzie
Points: 8 (4L, 4R)
Five years ago, I first crossed paths with this buck. My friend, Zack Conaway, brought his hog dogs to help thin out the hog population on our place. After baying three armadillos, his dogs ran this buck past my father and I. He was a 2-year-old at that time, but his brow times were just as impressive then as they are now. He was nick-named “Field Goal” because of those brow tines. Well, Zack’s dogs got a little better and this deer got a lot bigger. Over the past five years the buck was only seen a few more times, and only once for more than a couple seconds. However, trail camera pictures revealed the buck to develop extras and kickers at ages 5 and 6. This year, at 7 years old, he was a symmetric 8-point at his prime that was anticipated to be the new Effingham County record archery kill. Thanks to extensive scouting and camera work, we were able to isolate his daytime activities to one stand location. After putting over 15 hours in that one stand, I finally encountered the buck. On the evening of the kill, the buck approached from my down-wind side shortly after a series of grunts. As he was coming into a shooting lane, I drew and focused intently on his vitals, not even taking time appreciate his rack in full detail. As I released, the shot felt great and upon hitting him, he jumped and started to slowly leave. He didn’t even know that he was hit. He got out of sight, and I notified my family and friends that I had harvested the buck. My Dad arrived to help get the buck at the same time that I followed the blood trail into the rising Ogeechee River. My heart sank. Despite a four-hour search using a reliable trailing dog and FLIR technology, we could not recover the buck. I felt strongly, given my shot location, and how the buck was acting, that he did not have the energy to make it across the river. After three more hours searching the next morning, I finally found the deer! He was still in the river, deep within a stand of willow trees on the opposite side of the river. He was finally in my hands and now will be competing for the Truck-Buck and the Effingham County record book!