"74"

"74"

As the seasons change and the leaves begin to fall, signs of buck fever begin to show as my blood pressure rises to levels of concern, and although I should be focusing on my college classes, I can't help but day dream of giant monarchs of the woods as the professor explains something that would probably be helpful for me to know for our next test.

The morning of October 10th came cool and crisp. The smell of fall was in the air as the leaves crunched beneath my feet. But I wasn't headed to my favorite tree stand in the woods. I was walking across campus to my 8 a.m. lab I have every Thursday, preparing for a long day of classes. I gazed across the biology hallway into the next classroom out the window all morning as I longed to be out in Mother Nature chasing an Ohio brute. The minutes ticked slower and the hours dragged on as we worked through our lab handout. But in an instant the clouds faded, and the sea parted as I checked my email and came to find my next two classes for the day had been canceled. My heart fluttered and my eyes lit up as I read the good news. I knew then that I would be heading to the woods that evening.

My truck couldn't seem to go fast enough as I flew home with high anticipation to grab my bow and hit the trail head. But before I checked the weather radio to see what wind and stand I would be hunting, I decided to check my trail camera which was aimed at an Invite Xtream Fat Rax Mineral site I had put in long before the season had set in. The deer use this as kind of a staging area before they hit the Invite food plot I had put in back in August. Prior to the season I was getting pictures of one good shooter buck. He was coming in religiously until bow season hit and he disappeared. So I had yet to even hunt the ground blind put in place near the mineral site. When I checked the pictures on the card this day however, this would change drastically. To my surprise, a buck I hadn't seen since last year, late season was in just earlier that day. I had nicknamed him “74” last year as a three and a half year old because of his weird rack which hosted seven points on his right side and just four on the left. But this year as a mature four and a half year old, he hosted a bold five thick points on his right and four thick points on the left. He was a definite shooter and my sights were set on him and only him.

This was his first time finding the mineral site this year so I had a good feeling he would be back for more later that evening so I was wanting to head to the ground blind. However, after checking my weather radio I was in a slight pickle. It was calling for northeast winds that evening which isn't a favorable wind for the blind set up as it nearly blows straight towards the mineral site. After minutes of consideration I decided to still hunt the blind. What swayed my decision was the fact that I was using Doc's Deer Scents. I had used their product before and time and time again it had worked. Deer would get downwind and still have no idea I was even there. I wash my camo with it, I wash with it in the shower, I spray it all over my gear and on this specific hunt, I took their acorn scented spray and sprayed the whole area down around the mineral site.

Now confident in my concealment, I played the waiting game as the day would soon turn to night as I eased into the blind around three o'clock. The first few hours went slow as I went skunked with only seeing a few squirrels and chipmunks here and there. But as the sun started to hide behind the tree line, a hand full of does came in to scratch around the mineral site before heading for the half acre food plot just forty yards to my left. After hanging around for awhile and a couple yearlings pranced and played around, the group left with me hoping and praying “74” would soon follow their tracks.

Another hour passed after the does had gone and left and still no signs of horns. I grew anxious and worried as darkness was only a short forty-five minutes away. As the clock struck twenty 'til seven, I peaked out the window and to my left to see a giant head set peering out of the weeds. Solo filming, I reached for the camera on the tripod and pointed towards the head full of horns and hit record. My hands began to shake as I followed him through the viewfinder as he slowly eased into the mineral site. As he finally settled in I left the camera rolling and reached for my Hoyt, taking deep breaths to calm my nerves as I clipped on my release. The moment of truth was here and as I drew back I took another long deep breath. I exhaled slowly as my sight pin settled behind the Ohio giant's shoulder. In an instant my arrow went from 425 grains of potential energy, to a weapon of deadly kinetic force as it left my string and the Ramcat entered the brute's boilermaker. Like a shot out of a cannon, the buck took off to my right, his shoulders kicking back, snapping my arrow in half and breaking my Firenock off flush with the arrow shaft. I had great penetration and the arrow had hit the exact spot my sight pin had been resting so the adrenaline ran fast through my veins. Celebration and emotions ran high but I knew the hunt was far from over.

After reviewing the footage I knew this buck was dead on his feet but I still always like to give them a half hour for good measure. With flashlights in hands my father, the man who got me started on the right path to bowhunting, and I set out down over the hill to follow the blood trail that would hopefully lead us to possibly the biggest buck of my life. Right off the bat, we found good, bright red blood squirting out both sides. My arrow in two pieces now, was also soaked in this bright red blood which any good bowhunter knows means a good lung and heart hit. He couldn't be far. With every step of the blood trail, my anticipation grew more and more. I assumed my buck would be behind every tree and bush we passed.

After a short cluster of woods and an evener shorter strip of open field, we came up on my expired buck. He had miraculously made it about 125 yards even with a devastating shot placement. After dragging him out of the tall weeds and out into the field I could finally lay my hands on what would be my biggest buck to date. The adrenaline and emotions again, ran high but not just through my body but also my father's as we celebrated over my quarry. This massive nine stretched the tape out at a whopping 164 2/8” gross green score, and netted a just as impressive 155 1/8”.

What I remember most about this hunt isn't the size of my buck, or the sponsors and gear I used, or how good of shot I made, but the family and friends I got to celebrate and spend time with that night after dragging “74” back to the house. I don't think there's anything more rewarding in hunting than getting to spend that time talking bowhunting with my family and good buds. If I could give anyone a piece of advice for bowhunting, it would be to count your trophies not by the amount of game you take, but the number of friends you make along the way.

Weapon: 2011 Hoyt CRX 32"

Broadheads: Ramcat

Arrows: Beman ICS Bowhunters

Nocks: Firenock

Scent Elimination: Doc's Evade Laundry Wash, Body & Hair Soap, & Field Spray

Attractants: Invite Xtream Food Plot, Invite Fat Rax Minerals, Doc's Acorn Spray

Score: 164 2/8" Gross, 155 1/8" Net

Weight: 215 lbs field dressed

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