December 22, 2011
By Polly Dean
Indiana hunter Dean Hudson believed that the really big bucks always lived "elsewhere." Even though he had cut his teeth hunting around his home in Morgan County, Indiana, Hudson often traveled to Illinois in pursuit of trophy bucks. That was until a monster deer showed up, practically in his backyard!
On December 4, 2009, the day before the opening of Indiana's muzzleloader season, Hudson's son was standing at the window in their home as he yelled to his dad to come take a look. Walking across a field about 100 yards away was a big buck that did not appear to be a "normal" deer.
After grabbing a pair of binoculars, for a better look, Hudson realized that the deer's antlers had "junk" everywhere. He and his son ran to his vehicle to get a closer view of the big buck. Driving to within 30 yards of the deer, Hudson was able to clearly see that the buck's large 8-point main frame was covered in abnormal points. He dubbed the deer "Crazy Eight."
Hudson hunted the big buck for the remainder of the season but never caught a second glimpse of him. When spring rolled around, he looked for the shed antlers but was unsuccessful. In late summer, Hudson set out two trail cameras in hopes of viewing the deer but again was unsuccessful. At this point he was not even sure if Crazy Eight was still around.
As the October 2010 hunting season neared, Hudson knew that he needed to put out his deer stand in order to have a shot at the elusive buck, but he was at a loss as to where to set it. Because he had not seen the buck at all since the initial sighting, Hudson had to guess that the only likely place that the deer could be was in an adjacent woodlot. As a result of being logged twice in the last three years, the lot had become an overgrown thicket that was virtually impassable. Two picked bean fields separated by a fencerow were in the center of the woody thicket. Locating a tree that was suitable for hanging his stand became another problem. As Hudson was walking out of the wooded area, he spotted a pin oak tree in the fencerow that would have to do. He then spent several hours trimming branches and setting up his stand.
Hudson decided not to hunt the stand until November. He figured that a deer of this caliber wouldn't show himself in October and if so, only at night. If anything brought him out, it would be the rut later in the season.
On the afternoon of November 6, with bow and arrow in hand, Hudson eased into his stand. With nearly 30 minutes of daylight left, two does and a buck stepped out of the thicket and into the larger of the two fields. Hudson grabbed his binoculars and was amazed to see that the buck was indeed Crazy Eight. After all this time of not seeing the big deer, Hudson was excited that the only buck that he did see on this hunt happened to be him.
Unfortunately, Hudson's stand was on the wrong side of the pin oak. With several branches behind him and the deer 50 yards away, the hunter didn't risk taking a shot. Still excited and not entirely disappointed, he watched the three deer until dark. Hudson waited a while longer and slipped quietly out of the stand. His chance for Crazy Eight would have to wait until another day.
The next day being a Sunday, Hudson decided not to hunt. On Monday, November 8, Hudson was greeted with the same ideal weather conditions as two days prior. Temperatures were mild, the sky was clear and the wind was light and favorable, blowing Hudson's scent away from the woods and fields.
Before returning to the stand in the afternoon, Hudson practiced with his bow in the backyard. During the earlier hunt he used his rangefinder to measure various points from his stand. He had measured the point at which the buck stood at 53 yards. Hudson practiced shooting his arrow at 20, 30 and 40 yards. He even decided to range the target at 50 yards and took a single practice shot at the longer distance. He decided his shot at 50 yards was good enough.
Hudson allowed extra time for his hunt so he could trim more branches and reposition his stand to the opposite side of the tree. He would be prepared if the big buck again entered the same field. Finally situated in his stand by late afternoon, Hudson heard a loud grunt. It sounded like it came from 200 yards away, out of a wooded area that jutted out of the far end of the unevenly bordered field. Peering through his binoculars, Hudson spotted a doe. As he panned behind her, there stood the monster buck about 50 yards back.
By this point, Hudson had noticed an unusual trait in the animal's behavior. The buck never seemed to close in on the does. Instead it kept a distance of at least 40-50 yards. Again, on this second appearance as Hudson watched the doe enter the picked bean field to feed, the buck stayed put. In fact, it even seemed to Hudson that the buck became agitated as the doe walked out into the open area. He could hear and see the buck thrashing the trees back in the thicket. No other deer were in sight.
As the doe came out farther, the buck eventually jumped the fence, easing closer toward the edge of the woods. The doe scurried out a bit more, but the buck leapt the fence again, returning to the thicket. Hudson watched what was going on, wondering why this buck didn't act normal and chase after the doe like any other buck. The hunter decided that if he was going to have a chance at bringing Crazy Eight closer, he would have to first lure the doe closer. He "bleated" a couple times, attracting the doe's attention. She looked up, then continued to eat. But her curiosity seemed to cause her to move towards Hudson as she fed. As the doe made her way closer, the big buck again jumped the fence and eased closer as well. As she took a step, he would take a step, but he still stayed a considerable distance from the doe.
The doe worked her way to a spot that Hudson had ranged earlier to be 53 yards away. By this time, Hudson was convincing himself, Hey, even if the buck follows her, it is still a 50-yard shot that I'm not willing to take. It's a great animal and I should just be happy to see it. It's only November and there is plenty of hunting season left.
But, Hudson soon changed his mind. The buck did ease to the spot where the doe stood at 53 yards and stopped broadside. Thoughts ran through Hudson's mind of his friends asking why he didn't take the shot. Wanting no regrets, he reached for his bow that was still hanging behind him. Knowing that he didn't have much time, Hudson quickly positioned himself and using the 40-yard pin he took the shot. In the stillness of the early evening, Hudson watched the buck take a step forward as the arrow flew. The arrow hit the deer slightly behind the target area and he bolted off. At this point Hudson was in disbelief that he took the shot and hit the deer, but mostly hopeful that he didn't just wound the buck. Minutes later, Hudson heard and then saw that the doe and buck had circled around and were coming out into the smaller field behind where he sat.
Hudson could see the arrow sticking out of the buck. From his angle Hudson wasn't able to tell where the arrow had entered, but it appeared to him that it was too far back, maybe even near the hindquarter. Hudson felt awful and hoped that the deer would be OK. Both deer walked back into the woods.
After a moment Hudson heard a noise and thought it may be what hunters refer to as "the crash." Then Hudson spotted a coyote and supposed that the crashing sound was likely the startled deer running off, rather than dropping. The coyote disappeared and Hudson waited until dark and left. After consulting with friends Hudson decided that he would wait until the next day before searching for the buck. He didn't want to risk pushing Crazy Eight farther into the thicket.
The next day, Hudson grabbed his bow and ventured out to find the blood trail with the intention of returning home if he didn't find the deer. He did find a short blood trail but no buck was in sight of it. As Hudson texted his wife to let her know he was returning home, the coyote appeared again. Not seeing Hudson, the wild canine walked off into the woods. The coyote soon returned and Hudson watched as it appeared to follow a faint trail in the direction that Hudson had been searching. He followed the coyote and 40 yards later was led to the fallen buck. It was apparent that the buck died shortly after being arrowed and the crash Hudson heard was indeed the big deer going down.
Hudson's buck had 27 scorable points. It scored 208 2/8 points under the Boone & Crocket and Pope & Young scoring systems. The buck is the all-time highest scoring non-typical archery kill for Indiana's Morgan County and ranks fifth in the Indiana record book among non-typical bowkills.