Hunter: Shawn Lumsden
Points: 10 (5L, 5R)
October 27, 2019 is a day I will remember for years to come. Not only did I shoot my biggest buck to date, a 166” brute named Zeus, I also unknowingly met a yearling buck that would become a legend on our farm. Although the story goes back 5 years, things started to get interesting in the fall of 2021 when I passed him with my bow for a second time at 15 yards, in the exact same spot I passed him the year prior. Being that we are die hard Seinfeld fans, naming a buck related to the show has been a long-time goal of ours. When this buck “blew up” as much as he did from 2020 to 2021, the tall rack reminded us of Kramer, therefore meet Cosmo… The following February rolled around and I searched high and low until I finally found his sheds.. the big, white, typical 5 point sides were lying 25 feet apart from each other at the top of a hardwood draw. That cold winter day served as a reminder that you can still hold the antlers of a buck you pass while allowing him to grow another year or two - the ultimate catch and release in my book. The first two weekends of the 2023 season started off with east winds which are notorious for inconsistency. We focused on thinning our does as there is nothing better than practicing on live animals to prepare for that coveted shot at a buck. The 3rd weekend brought sunshine, temps in the 70s and most importantly, reliable northwest winds. Chelsea and I started the weekend off shooting doves over our sunflower field, not only getting our limit but also shooting a banded dove as well - a 3 year old banded 2 years ago in Woodland, GA. The following morning, I set up well before first light on some sawtooth oaks we have near our duck pond. A doe and fawn came out right away but didn’t stay long as a coyote came strolling through. At only 8 yards, I drew back, settled the pin and released an arrow right through his heart. He attacked the arrow with ferocity, quickly expiring in the same spot I shot him. Since he was so close, I had to climb down and move him into the brush. Over the course of the next hour, 5 does came out, 3 of which I was able to harvest. It turned out to be the best management bow hunt I’ve ever had. After pulling jawbones and taking live weights since we are enrolled in Georgia’s Deer Management Assistance Program, I was able to relax, shoot my bow and watch some college football. Anticipation rose as the evening approached since tonight was my first opportunity to hunt my target bucks this season. Being a big believer in scent control, I took a quick shower in Nose Jammer, threw on some camo and headed out the door. I was pursuing a very old buck we call Old Timer. His right side consisted of 5 points with a bladed G2 while his right side had 4 points with heavy palmation. His belly sags like no deer I’ve ever seen. Old Timer was making an appearance practically every evening around 7:00pm so I knew my chances of seeing him tonight were high. I carefully made my way to the footbridge creek crossing situated right under the ladder stand. As I approached, I couldn’t help but notice the wind on the back of my neck. I paused a moment or two under my ladder stand hoping it would change. It indeed stayed true, coming out of the south blowing directly towards their primary trail. I opted to get out of Dodge which is much easier said than done when it’s 82 degrees and you’re a quarter mile from the side-by-side. I was a bit frustrated but knew I couldn’t take the chance of blowing up one of our best spots. Despite Cosmo only daylighting once in the past 30 days, I decided to take the chance and pursue him since he was, ultimately, my No. 1 target. I also didn’t have any other big bucks to chase with a northwest wind. Always placing safety first, I called my wife on my way out with the new plans of relocating so she would know where I would be hunting. She said “wouldn’t that be crazy if you went through all this and then ended up killing Cosmo?” Although it wasn’t until 6:00pm when I climbed into the stand, I got settled in and hoped for the best. At 24 feet up, I was hunting an old tower style wooden box blind on telephone poles that my father had built decades ago – hands down my favorite stand on the entire property. We have 4 food plots branching off from the stand wagon wheel style with thick beautyberry bedding cover all around. The area is mature loblolly uplands with three hardwood draws skirting the edges – it’s undoubtedly a big buck paradise. An hour went by with no sightings. Being a tad bit discouraged, I looked up and lo and behold saw 2 small 7 pointers walking my way. As if a switch turned on, buck after buck rose in the thickets, filtering into the food plots, along with a mack daddy 8 point we call The Bully Buck. Abnormally long brow tines, a wide frame and bulging neck made this 6.5 yr old an impressive bow shooter for anyone. However, I was there for one deer and one deer only... The Bully Buck eventually meandered towards the back of the food plot, making a scrape as the late evening sun set behind the loblolly stand. As I was taking in the scene, thinking how blessed I am to be able to hunt these creatures, a large silhouette of a buck emerged from the shadows. Even though I confirmed through optics, I knew there was only one buck it could be… Cosmo made his way closer, although a little too slow for my anxiety to handle. As the daylight minutes were winding down, time was quickly becoming my adversary. I needed him to get here and get here fast. By the grace of the good Lord above, he finally made it to 17 yards broadside while I still had a second or two of daylight to spare. I pressed by left hip up against the wooden rail of the old box stand, release hand quivering. I checked my footing, drew back and confirmed I could still see the pin. Reminding myself to focus, slow the game down and have a controlled release, I watched the arrow disappear behind his front shoulder. Smoked him! He ran a short distance and then stopped. I remember saying to myself “go down, go down, go down!…” To my dismay, after standing still in the same spot for 3 full minutes, he walked off into the super thick beautyberry bedding area. Since there were still quite a few deer around, I waited in the pitch-black dark for 30 minutes before climbing out just to be safe. I checked my arrow which was covered in blood. I slowly made my way to the spot he was standing. Although I found a decent pile of blood, my hopes sunk a little as it was dark blood indicating a liver hit. I took a quick video to analyze later and vanished from the area. Back at the cabin, I circulated the video around, spoke with friends and ultimately decided to give him overnight in fear of pushing him. At daylight the next morning, my buddy and I went down to the spot of blood with his world-class tracking dogs who found the deer within 5 minutes lying only 110 yards away! Killing my target bucks consistently year after year is a primary goal of mine as a deer hunter and when all the puzzle pieces come together, it’s a feeling unlike any other. Connecting with these mature bucks fills my cup and motivates me to be a better hunter. Adversely, I can’t help but notice a pit in my stomach knowing the journey with that particular buck has come to an end. I’ll never see him on my trail cameras again. I’ll never find his sheds on a cold winter day. I’ll never get the shakes as I watch him drift into bow range, whether he gets a pass at the time or not. But what I do know, is that I get to re-live those moments again and again, knowing the next one is out there, starting a completely new journey all over again.