Hunter: Ross Medley
Points: 10 (5L, 5R)
I had watched this buck mature over the past few seasons and have numerous pictures of him on the game cameras. He had eluded me during muzzleloader season as I could never get a clear shot, despite seeing him on two different occasions. Other local hunting pressure was present as this buck was wounded high in the shoulder from a misplaced bow shot taken by a neighboring hunter on September 27th. Luckily, he was healing well and I was determined to hunt hard during the early rifle season in order to find an opportunity on this buck. The afternoon of the hunt, the weather was warm and there were deer occupying the area around my stand as early as 1:45 p.m. There was something different about this hunt compared to the previous days this season. The woods were extremely active with heavy doe numbers and there were multiple smaller bucks pushing the does around. The Pre-Rut was in full swing with indications that the Rut would be a little early this season. At 5:45 p.m. I caught a dark figure moving to my left. Pulling the binoculars up, I could see that this was my target buck. The problem was that he was approximately 125 years away, through hardwood timber, and like multiple times before, there was no clear shot. I patiently waited to see if he would come closer and follow the general path of the does before him earlier that afternoon. Two smaller bucks came in from my left, pushing a doe to a stand of white and red oak acorns. This group of three browsed around the stand and would occasionally run about in short spurts pushing the doe with them around my stand. As they ate the acorns, I solely scanned the area to my left and across the creek in front of me, to see if my target buck would find his way closer to my stand. It was now 6:30 p.m. and I was continuing to watch the two smaller bucks to my right to see if they would give away the position of any new deer coming toward the stand. Suddenly, I heard a soft thud and crunch of leaves to my hard left. Out of instinct, I moved my head quickly to find the source of the sound and there he was! My target buck facing directly toward me and only 40 yards away. Staring straight in my direction, I was not sure if my head movement caught his attention or if he was looking at the smaller bucks to my right. I felt that his alert posture was not going to give me much time for a shot. Another hunter had given him an education earlier this season and I certainly was not going to let that continue. I slowly brought the rifle up and my head down to get a somewhat decent shoulder on the rifle and be able to see through the scope. With a face-on chest shot and the buck being slightly angled to the right, I put the crosshairs in the middle of the chest, just slightly off-center to the left and pulled the trigger. He immediately collapsed and the adrenaline rush came and went. There certainly was something different about the woods that evening, and it was a great hunt.