The Broken Antler Buck ….

It was Saturday October 20th and my wife and I were returning home from a visit with my son and his wife in London when I got the urge to try an evening hunt back home. We had gone down on Friday evening for a visit and managed to squeeze in an early morning hunt with my son James on Saturday at a new hunting spot he had just picked up. It had rained all night long but when we woke at 5:00 am it had stopped. Unfortunately we didn’t see any deer that morning but we did manage to scout the area pretty good before leaving.
As I drove back home the skies changed several times from sunny to rainy but I just had a gut feeling that if I could get a small window of opportunity with some calm weather, I might just get a poke at one this evening. My wife and I had nothing planned so I dropped her off at home and headed out to one of my favorite spots for an evening hunt.
When I got to the farm I was a bit discouraged to find the neighbor kids had been driving around their property that bordered the bush on their dirt bikes but I decided to hunt anyway.
On the way in I checked my trail cam and in doing so further disappointment was added to my mood when I found only two new pics on the camera. I decided I would hunt the stand closest to the trail camera for an hour and then get down and move the camera to the vicinity of my other stand on the property. An hour past and after seeing nothing but a few squirrels I climbed down and proceeded to move the camera.
When I arrived at the other stand I was excited to find two fresh sets of tracks coming out of the bush into the cut bean field adjacent to it. I decided to follow them for a bit along the fence row. It was no surprise that they lead me right to an opening in the fence where I had shot a beautiful 16 pt buck two years ago. After seeing more tracks converging here I decided to put the trail camera up at this pinch point.
As I finished putting the trail camera up, a very large black cloud appeared on the horizon so I made a decision to stay put and hunt in a natural ground blind I had set up under an apple tree rather than get soaked walking back to my truck.
I had just finished setting up when the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down. Fortunately there were enough leaves still left on the apple tree to protect me from getting soaked. The storm lasted about 15 minutes and then the sun came out. I checked my watch and it was 5:20 pm. I looked up and suddenly I caught some movement across the field from where I was sitting. At first I thought it was the big Doe I had spotted earlier in the week in the same field but after a closer look, I realized it was a nice big Buck but his left antler was broken off after the G2.
He stopped as soon as he cleared the trees on the other side of the field to check the field and the air and then he proceeded to move across the field heading right towards me. I quickly pulled my facemask into place and reached for my crossbow. Slowly he moved across the field heading right for the tractor opening in the fence line where I was sitting. This was perfect, a slight breeze was blowing directly from the buck into my face and he was now approaching the marker tags I had put in the field on a previous hunt at 20 and 40 yards. He passed the 20 yard marker directly in front of me and moved into one of my shooting lanes. My 3D camo suit was obviously concealing me well as he had no idea I was there.
Slowly I raised my bow, aimed just back of the front shoulder and let the “RAGE” tipped arrow fly. I watched as the bolt hit him squarely and heard the distinct sound of a well placed lung shot. The buck immediately took flight running with his tail between his legs towards the bush where our tree stands were in. I quickly ran through the opening in the fence and watched him run into the bush entering right along the trail we had cut into the tree stand. As he passed a large rock at the opening to the bush he appeared to stumble and slide so I was pretty sure he wasn’t going much farther.
I walked back to my spot under the apple tree and then followed a line from the shooting lane I had cut into the field. At about 25 yds I found my bolt covered in bright red blood from tip to tip which confirmed a good hit. I again checked my watch and noted the time as 5:30 pm. With my heart slowly climbing back into my chest I replayed the hunt over in my mind. This is one of many deer I have shot from ground level and although tree stands are by far the best producers there is nothing like shooting a deer at ground level to get the old adrenaline pumping. The conditions have to be right by when they are…”nothing is more exciting”.
My thoughts quickly changed to how to get this deer out. I was alone and knew I would need some help hauling this bruiser out of the field so I called my buddy Herb who I knew was just returning home from a moose hunt. Herb informed me that he could certainly give me a hand but he needed about 1.5 hrs to take care of some things. I said no problem because having spent 3 hours on October 2nd successfully tracking a nice 8 pt through a corn field near the same area, I wasn’t about to rush this.
Herb arrived at my truck as promised and we drove back to the bush. I told him I didn’t think he would be too far from the tree stand we had set up in there so we headed right to where I saw him enter the bush. Sure enough right next to the big rock he had passed we found good blood sign and leaves pushed aside where I saw the Buck slip. We went about ten steps and there he was laying on his side right on the runway. He was a nice bodied deer and would have been a heavy antlered 8 pt or better if he didn’t have the broken left antler. We both laughed as we commented that antler soup wasn’t one of our favorite dishes anyway and proceeded to drag him out and take care of him.
Not a bad start to the season for me as I have now filled both my tags with really nice 8 pts before the first month of the season is even over. Hunting off the rest of the groups tags now that the rut is about to kick in!

Story By….Greg Mather

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