January 25, 2023
Dylan Schmitt has been hunting whitetails for a long time, and he started hunting with his father at the age of 5. One thing he loves about deer hunting is the time and energy spent on hunting specific bucks. However, the chase for this whitetail didn’t last very long. It showed up a week-and-a-half before he killed it. And the buck only graced Dylan’s trail cameras with a few nighttime photos.
“I’ve lived in the area my whole life and have hunted the same property ever since I was little,” Dylan says. “It all started here. I’ve been hooked on deer hunting ever since harvesting my first deer at 8 years old with a muzzleloader.”
Obviously, his father has played a major role guiding and teaching him. “My dad has taught me everything I know about deer hunting and is very good at knowing when the time is right to kill big deer,” Dylan says. “He has a whole wall of mounts, all deer that most people only dream of shooting.”
Nov. 6, 2022, proved to be another key moment in his life as a hunter. Around lunchtime, Dylan settled into a stand location overlooking a food plot. “It’s very secluded to where the deer feel safe,” he says. “Behind my stand is a very big creek. In front is a big flat that runs into another creek. This part of the property acts as a sort of funnel, so the deer are very concentrated in this area to make it to the food.”
With a northwest wind and a 30-degree temperature, he was confident in seeing quality deer movement. The food plot was planted with chicory, clover, radishes and turnips.
It wasn’t long before deer started moving. By 4:30 p.m., seven does were feeding in the plot. A young 3-year-old buck casually pushed them around. After a while, the young buck made it over toward the power line, where it suddenly took off running.
“I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, because he surely didn’t smell me — the wind was in the opposite direction,” Dylan says. “Then, 10 minutes later, the big deer walked right out of that same spot. I think the smaller buck saw him and felt intimidated, so he took off to avoid a fight he knew he couldn’t win.”
Everything proceeded to happen quickly. Fortunately, it played out as he hoped it would. The big deer walked through the mowed lane straight toward the open food plot. “Our setup has worked perfectly in this same way many times before,” Dylan says. “We have killed about 10 different bucks 160s and above, all within a 10-yard circle.”
The deer continued down the trail and halted right at the edge of the plot.
“I knew this deer was smart, because as soon as he stopped, he turned his head and looked right up at me. Our stand is 25 feet up a tree with quite a bit of cover around, so he was really paying attention to know something wasn’t right,” Dylan claims.
Just as the deer turned its head, Dylan came to full draw, settled the top pin and took the 15-yard shot. “When the arrow hit, he made a loud coughing noise and took off into the woods,” Dylan remembers. “From the time I first saw him until the time I shot, it had to be no longer than 45 seconds.”
The buck ran about 60 yards and crashed with a loud thud. Dylan went home, talked to his father about the hunt and then they returned for the recovery effort. It wasn’t an easy drag, though.
“He ran into a tree before he rolled halfway down a very steep hill,” Dylan says. “We attempted to get him up the hill by hand, but it was just too steep. We got the Polaris Ranger and rope to help get him up the hill. He weighed 231 pounds field dressed.”
Looking back, Dylan credits the right wind direction, cold temperatures and the right time of year for having this success. He waited until the conditions were just right, and then moved in for the kill.
“The buck and the hunt were incredible,” Dylan says. “The whole time I was in the stand, I had a feeling something was going to happen, because the deer movement was very good that night. This deer means a lot to me because it is my biggest deer. My biggest one before this scored 170 inches, so it was awesome being able to top that. I sure hope I get an opportunity someday to shoot another one like it.”
The deer was aged at 5 1/2 years old, and it scores 181 3/8 inches.