Our family moved to Wyoming in 1994 and a whole new world was opened up to me. I went on my first whitetail deer hunt in Nebraska in 1995 and I have been hooked ever since. Of all the big game animals I’ve hunted, I think the deer is my favorite and the whitetail has claimed a special place in my heart. I have deer hunted in over 20 states and my goal is to pursue deer in every state in the US as well as Mexico and all Canadian provinces.
|Weight: 175||Age: 4.5 years|
|Weapon Used: Bow||Score: 144 - 5/8|
|Location: Park County, Wyoming|
I excitedly told my friend, Larry Odom, to back the truck up. I’d seen a rock in the river with a weird looking stick up against it. We were hunting whitetails in Wyoming. Hours before, I’d experienced one of the greatest moments of my archery hunting career. Now, after hours of looking for my trophy and finding no sign of the deer that I knew I had hit, I was sick to my stomach and offering a silent and humble prayer that we could recover the deer.
For the past few days, we had been hunting out of ground blinds, trying to intercept a trophy whitetail buck as it moved between its feeding and bedding area. They say hunting whitetails on the ground, with a bow is almost impossible, and I was starting to believe. We had some very close calls but had yet to release an arrow. Temperatures were very warm during the first week of September, but we were encouraged by the deer movement. We were hunting agricultural fields along a river bottom and we watched the deer as they moved back and forth from their bedding and feeding areas. The deer seemed to be concentrating most of their attention on a small corner pasture full of alfalfa. This corner pasture was bordered by marshy fields with grass growing that exceeded five feet in height.
On the morning of September 4th, well before daylight, we crept into ground blinds we had constructed in tall marsh grass and hoped we could intercept a deer on his way back to bed for the day. The morning started off very slowly. I was set up with my back to a property line fence for property we couldn’t hunt. There was a very heavily used game trail where the deer crossed under the fence to travel to and from the food source. Early in the morning, I had a doe and fawn pass within fifteen feet of my hiding place without detecting my presence, so I felt good about my setup.
The sun slowly crept over the hills to the east and I still hadn’t seen any of the bucks I knew were in the area. Over an hour dragged by and my legs and back were starting to cramp from kneeling so long in the tall grass. I had just decided that it wasn’t going to happen that morning, when I had the strange sensation that I was being watched. The hair on the back of neck stood up and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a deer standing behind me on the game trail I was watching. I slowly turned my head and there was a great buck standing no more than fifteen yards away. He was on the wrong side of the fence but I could tell he wanted to come into the meadow where I knelt in hiding. He was very cautious and I figured that as close as we were to each other it was only a matter of seconds and before he spotted me and headed back the way he had come. I didn’t dare breath let alone move for fear of being detected. He kept lowering his head and acting like he was going to come under the fence, and then he would quickly lift his head and stare right at me, trying to catch me moving.
After ten minutes of this cat and mouse game I was tied in a knot. My legs and back were cramping from holding still for so long. Just when I thought it wasn’t going to happen, he lowered his head and disappeared from my sight into the tall grass. I knew he had come under the fence but because of the height of the grass I couldn’t see him. I was on a slight rise and had used my Nikon rangefinder to determine distances to certain landmarks, so when I caught movement and the buck walked into one of my shooting lanes, I knew he was at 45 yards. I came to full draw, picked my spot behind his left shoulder and touch the trigger of my release.
The arrow flight was perfect, so I almost bawled when my arrow caught the top of a big thistle and deflect into the ground right at the buck’s feet. He bolted back the way he had come and I thought it was over. I had my head down and was running a few explicatives through my mind, when I looked up to see the buck standing in the same shooting lane, looking around curiously. This time he was 60 yards away, standing broadside and I quickly knocked another arrow drew and released my second arrow. I was so excited when I watched the arrow fly and hit the buck right behind the shoulder.
Upon impact, the buck bolted into the meadow and made a dash for a ditch bank with really high grass. My arrow was still in the buck as he ran and disappeared into the grass. My friend Larry had been set up in a ground blind further down the meadow and had seen the buck run into the ditch bank. We waited about a half hour before we made our way over to look for my buck. We looked and looked but couldn’t find any sign and I began to panic realizing how difficult it was going to be finding anything in the grass. I told Larry the only chance we had, if we didn’t find sign was to walk right on top of the deer. I made my way up one side of the ditch and Larry made his way up the other. We had been looking for more than forty-five minutes and hadn’t found any sign. I was standing on the bank and talking to Larry, who was about sixty yards behind me, when all of a sudden the buck leapt up right at my feet and ran off through the grass. I tried to keep an eye on him and could just make out the tip of his horns when he stopped to look at Larry. I quickly made my way down the ditch bank and was lucky enough to have a clear shooting lane to the buck. I could tell he was getting ready to bolt and only had a hard quartering away shot at him. I anchored and let the arrow go. The shot looked good but the deer blew out of the grass and headed for the river at a full run. Because of the angle of the sun, I couldn’t tell if my second shot had been good.
The river bottom was over a half mile away, but there was a big rise in the field about half way to the river and we lost sight of the buck as he went over the rise. We looked and looked for my second arrow and couldn’t find it or any sign of another hit. After a while, we made our way to the last spot we had seen the deer and again were disappointed with no sign. For the next couple of hours we completed a grid search for the deer but I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was useless. The grass was just too tall and without sign, I pretty much knew our search was going to be impossible. I continued my search all the way to the river and actually blew a doe and a fawn out of their bed. After several hours of searching we decided to go into town, get a bite to eat and then return. Needless to say, I didn’t have much of an appetite and was anxious to resume the search, although I didn’t hold out much hope of finding the deer.
We drove into the pasture along the river and once again commenced our search. We spent another couple of hours looking. The sun was high in the sky and things looked very bleak. We finally decided to head back to town and let Larry prepare for his evening hunt. I was sick to my stomach and offering a silent and humble prayer. As we drove out of the field, I just happen to glance out through the cottonwood trees that boarder the river and I glimpsed a rock in the river that had a very strange stick lodged against it. It was at least 80 yards to the river, but something about the appearance of the rock and stick together didn’t look right. I asked Larry to back the truck up as I scrambled to find my binoculars. He thought I was crazy but backed up and when I told him to stop he didn’t know what to think. I threw my Nikon binoculars to my eyes and there laying in the middle of the river was my deer with my second arrow sticking in the air and the right side of his rack sticking above the water, looking like a strange stick against his body that I thought was a rock.
I didn’t hesitate as I ran to the buck and without thinking ran right into the river to claim my trophy. I also realized that before we had gone to town for breakfast, I had stood with 5 feet of my buck’s final resting place and he hadn’t been there. This was my first archery whitetail in Wyoming. He officially scores 144 5/8 gross and nets 135 3/8. I am so grateful for answered prayers and for good friends.
|Weight: 145||Age: 4.5 years|
|Weapon Used: Bow||Score: 140 - 5/8|
|Location: Irion County, Texas|
I have been hunting the same lease in Texas for the past 10 years and have had some great success. It is a bow only low fence ranch, so we work hard in feeding our deer protein and keeping them on our ranch. I had been watching one particular buck for the past three seasons and actually had a close encounter with this buck, that we named Mini 8, in the 2012 season. I made a bad shot and wounded Mini 8. I was sick and devastated when we lost the blood trail and couldn’t find him. Later in the day I, as I continued searching the cedar draws on the ranch, I jumped Mini 8 and watched him run off. After that sighting, I was optimistic that he wasn’t mortally wounded and later in the season I was relived to start seeing him showing up on the trail cam at one of my blinds. He survived the winter and in July I was excited to see him return to the same area and got more and more excited as I looked at his pictures and watched his antler growth. I am now very glad that I didn’t kill him in 2012, because he continued to stack on inches of growth and easily grew an additional 10 inches of horn and mass plus a cheater point off of his right G-2. I couldn’t wait for the opener and I kept close tabs on the weather knowing that the only wind I could hunt Mini 8 in was a northeast wind. I watched the long range forecast and finally decided to roll the dice and booked my flight to allow me to hunt the first week of October. If the forecast held true, I might get one or two chances at him in that week. After arriving in camp and checking the trail cam, it was obvious that Mini 8 was staying in the same area. I couldn’t hunt the stand the first couple of days I was there and I stayed patient, waiting for the right wind. Finally, on October 5th, the wind in the evening was supposed to be out of the northeast and I made it into my blind undetected and very early. I enjoyed my time in the blind and saw several does and a couple of small bucks, as well as a covey of scaled quail. Finally, the witching hour approached and activity really picked up. I caught movement up the draw and saw several bucks crossing a small saddle, headed my way and at the back of the group was Mini 8. I kept catching glimpses of them as they filtered through the cedars. They circled down wind and were on a bee line for my stand when I heard the distant drone of the ranch plane. Every deer in sight went on full alert and then the worst thing possible happened….the rancher flew right over my blind and all the deer exploeded for cover, including Mini 8. I put my head down in disbelief and wondered why the rancher would check his livestock at such a terrible time of day. I said a few explicatives under my breath, knowing that my hunt was over and that the wind was supposed to be wrong for the rest of my week long hunt. I lifted my head to look out the window of my blind and was astonished to see Mini 8 standing in front of my blind about 17 yards away and looking away from me and towards where the plane had gone. I quickly composed myself, got my release hooked to my string and drew as he continued to look away. He was quartering away, my favorite shot for a bow, and I took time to pick my spot on his near side and picture where my arrow would exit on the offside. I concentrated hard and as I released the arrow I was excited to see the arrow disappear right where I had been aiming. The buck jumped sideways and fell on his side before regaining his feet and heading up the draw from where he had come. I gave him what I felt like was an eternity (probably about 10 minutes) before exiting the blind and finding my arrow. It looked good and I found blood almost immediately. I took up the blood trail and was relieved to find Mini 8 piled up in a prickly pear cactus only about 60 yards from my blind. As I looked down and admired Mini 8, I took a moment to thank my creater for whitetail deer, for Mini 8 and for the blessing it is for me to pursue his creations.
|Weight: 180||Age: 4.5 years|
|Weapon Used: Rifle||Score: 137 - 7/8|
|Location: Park County, Wyoming|
It was just getting light when I caught this buck trailing a doe in an alfalfa field. He didn’t notice me as I crawled under a fence and then belly crawled into an irrigation ditch. I stayed in the ditch and was able to close the distance to about 250 yards. I dropped the legs on my bipod and used the bank of the ditch as a rest. When the buck came across the field and stopped broadside to look around, I took the shot and dropped the buck on the spot.