Do You Bow Hunt During the Early Season?
|Rack Report Details|
|Buck:||180 Inches (Velvet)|
|Time of Year:||September 2, 2017|
|Weapon:||Hoyt Bow Bowhunting|
It started with a turkey hunt. Alex Fruit noticed turkeys hanging around a small chunk of thick timber situated among rolling pastures and cropland. Always on the lookout for a spot to chase big gobblers, Alex stopped to talk to the landowner about hunting. He was given permission and made plans to hunt the small chunk for the first time in late spring of 2015.
As Alex entered the timber plot, he jumped a deer from a nearby thicket. Since it was only mid-May, Fruit was surprised to see the buck's antlers already extending well passed its ears. Besides the early width, he also took notice of the buck's massive antler bases.
I knew this was a buck I wanted to hunt, Fruit said. Another trip back to the landowner gained him permission to deer hunt the following fall.
To Alex's dismay, the buck had moved out of the timber by the time season came in. Later, while talking with a hunting buddy whose land lay across the highway from his spot, Alex learned that his friend was getting trail camera photos of the deer on his property. Fruit continued watching for the buck. Then, near the end of the 2015-16 archery season, he caught a glimpse of the large buck on the property he could hunt.
Fast forward to the 2016 season. Alex started running cameras early. The big buck was back, and was a more frequent visitor to the small timber thicket.
During the entire 2016-17 archery season, Alex only felt the wind was right for a total of 10 hunts. He saw the buck twice during those hunts, but both times the deer was just out of bow range. Needless to say, the buck was careful, and it never left thick cover to expose its vitals for a possible shot.
Early this summer, Alex caught a glimpse of the buck right off. It was using the timber chunk as its core area. Again, Alex knew extreme care had to be taken. He didn't want to bump the buck from the small plot. Leading up to the season, the forecasted wind direction didn't look good. Then, just a day before opening day, the wind forecast changed to the perfect direction to hunt the buck.
Fruit made the decision to skip the opening morning hunt. At 3 p.m., Alex decided to sneak into his stand for his first hunt of the season. To keep his wind out of the buck's bedding area, Fruit took the long route into his stand.
I walked an extra mile over what I needed to that day, Fruit said, But I knew that one whiff of my scent would spook the buck.
Alex quickly grabbed the card from his camera and silently climbed into his stand. As he flipped through the photos from his camera card, Alex was dismayed to see the big buck had walked through at 8:45 A.M. that morning. Alex worried that he'd missed his best chance at the buck.
As the evening crept by, the deer movement was minimal. In fact, Alex hadn't seen a single deer. Then, the giant buck materialized from a large, grassy thicket just 70 yards from his stand.
He must have been bedded there the entire time, Fruit said.
Because the area he was in was so thick, the buck had only one possible trail to follow. The buck approached Fruit's only open shooting lane. The buck stopped. Fruit came to full draw.
I guess I only held at full draw for 30 seconds or so, but it seemed like an eternity, Fruit said.
Thankfully, the buck moved forward and finally offered a shot. Fruit grunted at the buck to stop it and released the arrow. His 15-yard shot struck true. The buck wheeled and ran from the thicket into a nearby bean field.
If I'd continued standing, I probably could have watched [it] go down, Fruit said. But I was so worked up that I thought I was going to pass out and collapsed in my stand almost immediately after the shot.
As soon as he collected himself, Alex knew the first call he had to make was to his wife.
It was like she had hunted this buck with me, Fruit said. I had filled her in on every hunt, every photo, since I first seen him.
He went on to say that she would normally be right there with him to track his deer, but she was stuck at work on opening day. Even so, the track was a short one. The buck only ran 80 yards. He loaded the buck up and celebrated the hunt.
The main-frame 8-pointer sported tremendous mass all over. Its tine length approached 14 inches on the extremely thick left G2. The buck taped out at an impressive rough gross score of 180 inches. Alex plans to have the buck officially scored after the required waiting period.
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