Hunter: Shawn Lumsden
Points: 12 (6L, 6R)
The story started 2 years ago when this buck first started showing up on our trail cameras. He was a 130-inch, 3.5-year-old 10-point with outstanding potential. Every time he would approach the protein feeder, all other deer would scatter. The first thought that came to mind was that he acted like a young outlaw which ultimately earned him the name Josey Wales. Unfortunately he wasn't a regular however, we only got a few photos of him all 2021... Fast forward to Summer 2022 and he was on our cameras every day beginning in June. He had added another 15"+ of antler growth, really grabbing our attention now. In the weeks before the archery opener, I had him patterned pretty well. He would daylight just about every evening each week leading up to the season. I feared the typical Georgia early September easterly winds which would have made hunting him impossible. Fortunately, this year we got some south winds, which worked perfectly in my favor. The afternoon of September 11th was actually relatively cool for this time of year. I snuck up into my stand and had a velvet spike walk underneath me almost immediately. Moments later a doe with a fawn comes out followed by more does and then buck after buck after buck... It was literally a deer parade. As the evening progressed, the bucks kept getting bigger and bigger. A couple of them were nice mature deer that any bowhunter would have been happy taking, but I knew Josey Wales would show himself as long as none of these other deer smelled me. As if on cue, I heard some movement behind me and caught a glimpse of his tall tines just in time as he walked up the trail. I drew back, settled my pin and released the arrow. The shot hit him back and low, causing his insides to come out, making me sick to my stomach. I had to shoot over a water oak limb and one of the leaves had just barely caught my arrow in flight, deflecting it entirely away from his vitals. I immediately texted my buddy Justin Strickland who has some world-class tracking dogs and let him know what happened. The only upside in this situation was that the dogs would at least have a good scent trail to track him in the morning. It was a long night as any hunter knows who has been in this situation. The times I did sleep, I had nightmares; the times I was awake, I couldn't help but chastise myself for making that a poor shot on such a magnificent animal. I was literally and physically sick to my stomach. When the morning finally arrived, Justin and I met up and drove down to the stand. He let his dogs out to stretch their legs and see if they could pick up a trail. A few minutes into the search, his half German shepherd/half labrador retriever made a bee-line straight away from us. She had picked up the trail and was moving fast. We followed a couple hundred yards behind for about 500 yards. Then the dogs began barking up a storm, yippin' yappin' and everything in between. Justin looked back at me and said, "They found him, let's go, let's go!" We ran through the draws and busted through the thickest, nastiest brush on the property until we got up to the deer and dogs. Fortunately, his body was still warm so we were able to salvage the meat. A wave of relief washed over me unlike anything I had ever felt. I was standing over my biggest bow buck ever! We began the arduous drag out and finally got him loaded up in my Polaris ranger over an hour later. We put a taped him out at 147 3/8" - a full 22 inches more than my previous personal bow record! I am so thankful for Justin dropping everything that morning to come help me track and especially to his dogs who trailed this deer for over 800 yards before finally finding him. Bowhunting is certainly a game of ups and downs - I experienced every emotion possible during these 12 hours. There just isn't anything like it in the world.