November 28, 2022
After each deer season ends, I always check my cameras for what deer made it and search for sheds. In 2019, after I parked my truck in tall grass on one such outing, I could hear air coming out of my tire when I stepped out of my truck. I looked over my tires and found a deer antler in the sidewall of one of my brand-new Cooper tires. Hence, this buck’s name, Cooper.
I was unsuccessful in finding the other side of Cooper’s rack and finally went home, not in the best of moods. I had knowledge of this buck, but I knew he was not yet mature.
In preparation for the 2020 deer season, I had my food plots ready and set my trail cameras. Cooper showed up and had grown a lot of inches. He was the largest buck I had on any of my cameras. He was attracted to the mineral and visited several times during daylight hours. I knew this would be a once in a lifetime buck, so playing the wind and picking which stand to sit in during the warmer temperature would be a challenge.
I had my first sighting of Cooper in early October, but he was 150 yards out and not heading in my direction. Several hunts went by without another sighting of him. Pictures of Cooper had decreased as well. A few weeks later, on an evening hunt, Cooper showed back up. He was on the trail and headed my way. When Cooper reached an old fence at 45 yards out, I was ready. I had permission on both sides of the fence, but I wasn’t taking a chance until I had a clear shot.
Cooper never crossed the fence, and I watched him walk away, questioning myself as to whether I made the right decision or not.
On the morning of Oct. 27, 2020, I climbed up in my deer stand. When it started getting light out, I began to see a lot of new rubs and noticed the ground was torn up. Not seeing Cooper that morning, I climbed out of the stand and checked my cameras. Only to find pictures of Cooper with his whole left side missing! He broke his antler just above the brow tine.
There were pictures of another deer with Cooper that night on the camera. I went back out looking for the broken antler, but I never had any luck. I moved on to hunt another buck, hoping that Cooper would make it through the season. I continued to check the cameras and track Cooper, so that I could find his right antler after the bucks dropped their antlers.
On Feb. 7, 2021, I discovered Cooper had dropped his antler. Despite the snow we received on Feb. 8 and 9, I searched and searched. It was worth it. I found the right side and was not disappointed!
When the 2021 deer season rolled around, I was prepared. Food plots were in, the mineral was out and cameras were on. When I checked those cameras, I saw Cooper was hitting the mineral again during daylight hours. I played the wind and picked spots for my stands. I thought this was going to be a quick season, and that I would get him this time for sure.
Opening week arrived, and my pictures of Cooper went from hundreds each week to two a week, and the temperature was hot. I kept at it, hunting when I could.
Then on Oct. 3, 2021, during an evening hunt, Cooper showed up. There wasn’t much daylight left, but he was heading my way. I was ready, and when Cooper turned at 22 yards I released the arrow. I couldn’t believe it; I got him!
I called my wife and a few buddies to tell them I got Cooper. I went back to my truck and waited for my wife, Leslie, friend Mike and his 7-year-old son, Diesel. When they arrived, we went back to where I shot Cooper and let Diesel follow the blood trail to locate him. It wasn’t much over 150 yards before we found him.
I knew other hunters were aware of Cooper and were hunting him as well. I received calls from several of them after they learned that I bagged him, congratulating me. It meant a lot to hear from the other hunters and to have the comradery between us. Cooper scores 205, and it is amazing to watch what a deer can grow into when you let them walk and mature!