Hunter: Ross Medley
Points: 12 (7L, 5R)
This buck was taken at my parents' property in Walton County. I saw this buck, which I had named “Double Beam” the week before but he was on the neighboring property and while traveling directly toward a scent I put out, he changed directions after hearing a neighbor's ATV and I was not able to get him onto the property for a shot. All I could think about over the next week was getting back into the woods for another opportunity at this one in a lifetime buck. In monitoring the weather and tracking Tropical Storm Zeta, I felt that the storm was going to put me in prime position for another chance at Double Beam. Tropical Storm Zeta came through and with the high winds, rain and warmer temperatures, the deer would likely stay down and be ready to move the following day. Add in the colder weather and the full moon approaching and things were going in the right direction…at least on paper. The morning of the hunt came, and the weather was noticeably colder than the day before. My truck’s thermometer read 52 degrees on the ride over to the property. While getting dressed for the hunt and walking into the stand, the moon was so large and bright, I did not need a flashlight to make my way through the hardwoods to my stand. I was in the stand at just after 7:00 am and there was a slight breeze in the air. I got into the same stand as the week before when I saw Double Beam and positioned myself toward the direction I saw him last. As the darkness turned to daylight, the woods came to life. The Wood Ducks were playing in the water making all kinds of noise and multiple squirrels were crunching in the leaves. This week, the leaves were much crunchier than the previous week and I had high hopes to be able to hear any deer as they approached my stand. Casually monitoring the woods around me, I was more focused to my left at the 8 to 10 o’clock positions. Suddenly, there was a noise to my right at about 4 o’clock. I slowly turned my head to identify the nose and there was a gray squirrel jumping into the leaves from a fallen log. Mentally, I logged this noise as a squirrel, and I went back to monitoring things to my 9 o’clock. A minute goes by and again there is the noise to my right at 3 o’clock…then at 2 o’clock. That is when I caught some movement and I sharply turned my head to see Double Beam! Quartering away from me and waking that steady buck trot, he was heading toward the water and about to cross into the creek. The time to take the shot was now or never. I pulled the rifle up, aimed just behind his left shoulder and squeezed off a shot. The bark of my 300WSM roared through the woods. Double Beam turned 90 degrees to his right and started running. Thinking I must have gotten too excited and missed, I was sick to my stomach. It was at this moment I realized his tail was down while he was running and I knew I had connected. Double Beam hit the ground about 30 yards from where he was shot and the woods fell silent. I sat in the stand taking the moment in. The rush, the smell of gunpowder in the air, and silence of the woods. It was a great day and a shining moment in 2020.