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2013 Monster Buck

In October 2014 the story of Mark's 26 point, 222" non-typical buck was featured in Bowhunter magazine on page 46.  Here is the story and more pictures.

“The One That I Want”

It was November 10, 2013 and I hadn’t seen my first mature buck despite being well into my second week of vacation. I spotted the mature doe and her young one over my shoulder and was waiting for them to pass to my left. I had a few moments to debate in my mind and come to a conclusion as I was faced with a difficult decision. I had been hunting hard for seven of the past ten days and had not seen my first big buck. Perhaps I should just go ahead and harvest the mature doe, fill the freezer and satisfy that desire to draw back and fire an arrow. Most hunters know that feeling. We have been hunting hard and long and we want to achieve the goal of harvesting a whitetail. Should I shoot? On the other side of the coin it was November 10, the peak of the Ohio rut. I knew there were several big bucks on my trail camera from the previous January, the last week of the Ohio archery season. If they had survived the early hunting and had not been hit on the road maybe they would still be around. And of course I couldn’t forget “The Big Four” and especially “The One That I Want.” I decided not to compromise and instead chose to hold out and let the doe and her young one pass by. I would wait and tough it out in hopes that a trophy buck would come into range.

I first saw “The One That I Want” in the summer of 2012. My buddy Dave called and let me know he saw “a whopper” about one half mile north of my hunting spot. It was almost dark and I decided I didn’t have enough daylight to go see the big boy that evening. I am a Pastor with a busy schedule and have four children who have a lot of evening activities and sports. I was waiting for the opportunity for my first free evening to take a quick drive and see if I could spot any big bucks. Sure enough, when I arrived at the area that Dave had described I saw several deer including one very large buck. The bucks were still in velvet and I estimated the biggest one to be 180 class. Not only did I call Dave to tell him I saw the big buck, I also called my buddy Jeff. The three of us drove by the area every chance we could over the next several weeks. One evening my buddy Jeff and his wife saw four large bucks including the 180. Jeff sent me pictures which I downloaded onto my computer. When I saved the photos I titled the first picture “The Big Four”. I titled the biggest buck “The One That I Want”. In my wildest dreams I would never imagine that I would even see “The One That I Want”. Why would he come a half mile down to my hunting area when I had never even seen him there before? Only one thing might draw him to my hunting spot……a doe in heat.

Success came very early for me in 2012 when I harvested a 150 class buck on the first day of the Ohio archery season. I was hunting a funnel on a different property that had both soybeans and corn. I had harvested a 145 class buck in the same funnel the previous November, 2011. Since it was September it was still quite hot and my stand was facing the sun. As sweat poured down my face and burned my eyes, I began to text my cousin Chris in North Carolina and tell him how bored I was and how I hadn‘t seen a single deer. Within thirty minutes the dandy eleven pointer had crossed the soybean field and closed to within 10 yards of my hunting stand. My season ended quickly and joyfully and I had shot my biggest buck ever. Since a hunter can only harvest one buck in Ohio, I would not even have the opportunity to hunt any of “The Big Four” that year. I did doe hunt the property close to where the “Big Four” lived and I also took my youngest son Camden to the property. I was able to capture one of the “Big Four” on a trail camera in October and later he came in shooting range while I was in my tree stand. On that same property I harvested several doe and experienced Camden shooting his first deer. Other than that, I never saw any of the other “Big Four” or “The One That I Want” the remainder of the 2012 season. Were the other three still alive? Had any of them survived the hunting season? Would I ever really know?

It was 2013 and now the August drives had become a regular part of my late summer evenings. Every chance I would get I headed up the road to where Dave, Jeff and I had seen “The Big Four” and “The One That I Want”. I hoped to just catch a glimpse of any of the four and to know that they were still alive and in the area. The reality is that never again would I see the “Big Four” together but that didn’t matter because I saw him. I saw “The One That I Want”. He didn’t stay out in the field for long when I pulled my truck off the road to stare at him but it was unmistakable. It was him and he was still alive and hunting season was right around the corner!

The doe and her young one passed by to my left and continued into some thick brush and briars in front of me. As they were moving out of sight I heard another deer coming. Would it be a big buck? Sure enough it was a buck…..a button buck! He sniffed around, passed to my left and came out in front of my stand at about 35 yards. He lingered for quite some time and I could tell it was starting to get dark. I only had about 25 minutes of daylight left and was beginning to regret not shooting the mature doe. I pulled out my grunt call and began to grunt at the button buck and watched to see if he would react. Something caught my eye beyond the woods and out in the grass about 120 yards away. A buck with a good size rack had his nose down on the ground like a beagle. He was running back and forth sniffing the ground in search of a hot doe. I began to pray, “Lord help him to be a shooter!”

It all happened so fast! Deer were every where. The button buck was still hanging around. The doe and her young one were coming back and headed right toward my stand. All of this movement (and probably the smell of a doe in heat) caught the attention of the buck and he was headed my way too. I couldn’t believe it, the doe I had almost decided to shoot was the doe that was bringing in a buck. As I continued to pray that it would be a shooter, I did not realize that he was the deer I had pictures of, the big buck I had seen in the summer of 2012 and 2013. All I knew was that he had a lot of mass and was coming my way very fast and grunting as he came. I stood up and prepared to shoot. When he was at 25 yards his head was behind a small tree so I took the opportunity to come to full draw. This movement caught the attention of the other three deer and they were all staring up at me in my stand. The buck was now at 18 yards and he was looking up at me also. I had stopped looking at his rack and simply knew that he had a lot of mass and was certainly a buck I would shoot. I had already been praying that I would make an accurate shot. The buck was facing me and all four deer were looking at me. I knew I could not take that shot but he turned his head and body slightly and exposed his left front shoulder. With all four deer ready to bolt, I knew it was now or never. I let the arrow fly, heard it hit him and saw the red lighted nock on the end of the arrow sticking out of the deer. I had hit him right where I was aiming and I began to pray a different prayer, “help him to go down Lord, help him to go down!” I saw him stumbling around about 40 yards out in front of me in the thick stuff where the does had originally traveled. Then I saw the lighted red nock moving out of sight. With only ten minutes of shooting light and neighboring properties very close, I chose to get down and try to find him. The blood trail was excellent and I quickly saw my lighted nock ahead. It wasn’t moving and neither was the buck! He had piled up less than 85 yards from my tree stand.

At this point I still had no idea that it was the deer that two summers earlier I had labeled “The One That I Want”. As I approached the buck he was much bigger than what I thought. I began to realize that this buck was THE buck! “The One That I Want” became “The One That I Got”! I raised my hands in praise to God and began to thank him over and over again as I walked to my truck to get my flashlight. On my way, I met up with the landowner and told him I had killed a big buck. I said he probably had about 16 points but I was wrong…..he had 26 points! After calling my family and my hunting partner and father in law, Ed, I celebrated that evening by taking the deer to show each of my hunting buddies. Dave, Bill, Mike and Jeff are true friends because they were as happy for me as I was. After the 60 day waiting period, the buck was officially scored at 222 gross non typical and 216 net non typical points. He would be my first Buckeye Big Buck Club and first Boone and Crockett buck. I had learned a valuable lesson about passing up does and waiting for the big buck to arrive. I learned a lot about true friends and the importance of rejoicing with those who rejoice. I was reminded once again about how I serve a great God who even gave me “The One That I Want”!

Author’s Note: My equipment on this hunt included a Darton Maverick Express bow, Carbon Express arrows and Thunderhead 125 grain broad heads.



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