FIVE MINUTE HUNT
In the summer of 2012 our trail cameras took some pictures of a good buck that we named the “Heavy Eight. “ He had a big body with a heavy eight point rack, a mature buck that needed one more year to see if he would turn from a good buck into a great buck. Throughout the fall hunting season, my hunting partner Darryl and I would cross paths with him. With every encounter, we would find another piece to the puzzle on how this utilized the farm. By the end of the year we had devised a plan so one of us would tag him next fall. Or so we thought.
After the long winter, we shed hunted the farm hard, hoping to pick up his sheds. But we were unsuccessful. We thought he must have moved off the farm or changed his core area. As the spring planting season arrived, corn was planted in our hunting area and our previous year’s strategy was gone.
When we hunt over soy beans or alfalfa, it’s easy to pattern the comings and goings of the deer throughout the summer and then make a plan for early bow season. The standing corn presented a different challenge. It’s hard to pattern the deer in almost nine foot high stalks. We knew where the majority of the deer usually bedded and traveled so we hung trail cameras along the heavily used trails. As usual we had does and fawns on the cameras, but the summer was coming to an end and we still didn’t get any pictures of the Heavy Eight.
Was he still alive? Had he moved to an adjacent farm? Or was he still there? We weren’t sure until a chance encounter later in the year. We were walking a tractor path on the far side of the farm on one of our scouting trips. Without warning, a huge buck burst out of the corn and ran down the path. He stopped and looked back at us, turning that majestic amber rack for us to see. It was the Heavy Eight! He was still there and we knew where he was--living in the corn.
Now it all made sense. He had done what many mature bucks do. He broke away from the main group of deer into his own core area. Darryl and I quickly got out of the area and came back with two stands to put up in this new location. There weren’t many trees in the area where we’d seen the buck so we put one on the south side of the field and the other on the east side. NOW THE GAME WAS ON! It was hard not to hunt the new setup. We knew we were right in the Heavy Eight’s bedroom. If we pressured him, we might lose our chance at putting a tag on him.
We gave the area a couple of weeks to settle down and waited for the right wind to try our luck. It was now the middle of October and with the wind coming from the northwest, we made our way to the stands. I was the first to get into the south stand and Darryl was to continue on down to the corner and then up the fence row to the east side stand. After securing my safety harness, I slid a Lumen arrow into my Stealth SS and hung it up. I glassed the fence row and corn field with my Nikon’s to see if I could catch a glimpse of any deer.
I hadn’t been in the stand more than 5 minutes when I heard a deer coming through the corn in front of me. To my surprise it was our target buck, the Heavy Eight! He must have heard Darryl getting up into his stand and tried to pull the old Houdini move on him and slip out of the corn undetected! I quickly ranged him, shouldered my Tenpoint and readied myself for the shot.
As he cleared the final row of corn, I stopped him with a grunt. He stopped broadside. I settled the crosshairs of my Nikon Bolt scope behind his massive shoulder and sent the lumen arrow through his chest! He reeled from the shot and did a 180, running back into the corn.
Darryl heard the shot and the sound of a deer crashing through the corn and texted me immediately. “Did you shoot? Was it the Heavy Eight?” With my hands trembling and now sitting firmly on the seat of my stand, I managed to type out “Yes. Yes.”
“What just happened?” I thought to myself. I hadn’t been in the stand 5 minutes, and it’s over that quick? I sat and enjoyed the moment while the adrenaline slowly faded and my heart rate slowed down. Another text snapped me back to reality, “I’m on my way!” I lowered my bow and pack and anxiously climbed down to the solid ground where it all sank in. I had just killed the Heavy Eight!
Darryl was coming down the fence row to congratulate me and hear the play by play of the quickest hunt I have ever had! We both turned to look up the fence row to see the glow of the Lumenok shining like a beacon. The contrast of the crimson droplets along both sides of the drab corn rows was a welcome site. I knew that the big buck would not be too far ahead of us. After approaching the buck lying in the corn, it was clear that I’d underestimated his size. He was a tank! We guessed his weight at 300 pounds.
Thanks to the landowner for allowing us to hunt his great property and to Evan and Darryl for all their help! It was bitter sweet: I would have liked to have had many more encounters with this great buck, but when you’re in the right place at the right time, sometimes it takes only five minutes.