August 24, 2022
I’ve been lucky to have permission on a 200-acre farm for three years. My good friend Charles and I act as caretakers on the farm. Charles had been a part of the farm for years, and he brought me on and allowed me to plant food plots and hunt as I pleased.
Last season, a young 12-point caught our attention. I saw him a few times from the stand and passed him up. I closely studied trail camera pictures of him, because we had decided that he needed another year to turn into a giant. We hoped he’d make it through the year. In March, I found his right side shed and later found his left side in a totally different place. I was so happy he had made it!
Around July, the 12-pointer showed up and was the biggest deer I had ever seen in my life in Tennessee. When she saw a picture of the velvet giant, my wife, Kelley, immediately named him “Moose.”
I camped out in the truck while sitting on high roads with a spotting scope glassing food plots most nights, trying to catch a glimpse of him. Sometimes I would go a week or more before getting a trail camera picture or seeing him again. I didn’t plan on hunting Moose during Tennessee’s August velvet hunt, because I wanted to shoot him while he was hard-horned. So, I focused my scouting efforts around hunting him during the September archery season.
Through my observation, I watched Moose and other bucks completely change their patterns and move to the acorns, becoming invisible to me. So, I moved to a new glassing spot and found Moose on the edge of some acorn-loaded timber. He and the other bucks seemed to feed on a specific grass patch. With opening day of the September archery season only a week away, I hung a ladder stand so I could hunt the spot.
I couldn’t hunt on opening day because the wind was wrong for the spot. So, I sat in another stand 600 yards away to observe. The bucks kept their pattern, so I hunted the spot on the third day of season. Every buck in the bachelor group walked right by me except for Moose.
I knew I’d eventually get an opportunity at Moose as long as I kept my wind right.
The wind remained wrong for my ladder stand, so on Sept. 29, I went into the area to hang a lock-on in a big tree roughly 65 yards from the ladder stand. As I was in the stand and starting to trim limbs, deer poured into the field. Eventually, a small buck came out, stood beneath the tree I was in and spooked after smelling my scent trail. He sprinted back into the timber and almost ran into Moose who was standing just 30 yards away inside the timber. My heart dropped as I knew this was not good. Both bucks eventually calmed down and exited the timber, but they passed by further away and gave me no shot. I stayed in the stand an extra hour after sundown, glassing to make sure I would not disturb them while sneaking out of there.
On Sept. 30 I was running late coming from work, so I went straight to the barn, got my electric bike and headed to the lock-on stand. That day was hotter than the days before, and after sawing two limbs I noticed sweat dripping from the brim of my hat. Does approached from all different directions, and one even discovered my bike stashed in the hedgerow and began to stomp. She never blew, but she came from an area I was almost certain no deer would come from.
Once again, I was wrong.
She tried her best to wind me as I crushed cedar greens in my hands that I always put in my pockets for cover scent. As I focused my attention on this doe, I glanced to my left and saw Moose feeding at 30 yards, heading toward the curious doe. I eased my bow off the hanger and drew back slowly.
Moose got to 20 yards and I tried to stop him, but he kept moving. As he walked, I released an arrow and shot him much further back than I wanted to. However, I noticed as he ran into the tall grass field that red was pouring out of both sides of him; and what I had thought was bad turned out not to be.
He crashed in the middle of the field!
All the hard work and sleepless evenings had paid off. And I had it all on film with a camera attached to my bow! I first called my wife and then my buddy, Charles. I shed a tear in the tree stand when I heard Charles fire up the tractor and head my way. Moose was down, and I was on cloud nine!
Later that night, we green gross scored Moose at 176. And after the drying period, his official net typical score is 171 2/8. Moose is the No. 3 archery taken typical in the state of Tennessee.
I’m truly blessed and very proud of this Tennessee giant!