March 27, 2022
Breaking News Buck
The hunt for this buck began three years ago, when I received one, blurry photo of a buck with a huge body on my grandfather’s farm. I was on a different property chasing other deer, so I didn't think much about it. I had no idea that this buck would end up teaching me more about hunting mature deer than I ever thought possible.
The 2020 season came and went, and I got few more pictures of the buck, but he was never consistent. So, I didn't put time into hunting him despite his impressive 5x5 frame. As the 2021 season rolled around, I decided to invest more time into my grandfather’s farm, hoping to harvest a few does while staying out of my other property until the rut.
King Arthur Enters the Court
I set up a trail camera along a creek hundreds of yards deeper into the property than I had ever been. As luck would have it, I stumbled into what I now know was the core range of the big deer I named King Arthur.
I received photos of the now 21-point giant all summer as he went from being a typical stud to a freak with a lot of mass. I now think the buck had spent his whole life amidst the overgrown and seldom visited thorn bushes, and he never had a reason to explore the open field where I had previously put my cameras. No one had ever hunted the property extensively, and he knew where he was safe. As they say, the dumb deer never live long enough to get big. This was especially true as my grandfather’s place is adjacent to public land that routinely attracts half a dozen trucks an evening. This all started my great adventure of focusing solely on one deer and committing to hunting him all season.
Luckily for me, it didn’t take long.
I knew that the only pictures I had of the buck from previous years came before the rut, and I had to capitalize on his early season pattern to tag him. I chose a tree to climb with my saddle between what I thought was his core bedding area and the food plot he loved to visit. I just needed him to rise early one evening and give me a chance. I didn’t see the buck on my first sit, but I did learn valuable information.
In King Arthur’s Court
I went to the stand early out of boredom that day, and I watched the hunters drive by the property and enter the public land, spooking all the deer onto my grandfather’s property.
My second sit was on Oct. 8, and King Arthur made his final mistake that day. I was already in my tree when the other hunters arrived, and I watched the giant jump the fence and walk within 15 yards of me. I was shaking so badly I could not believe I didn’t fall out of the tree. Luckily, I beat my nerves and made a perfect shot on the buck. I was speechless as I saw him pile up within 100 yards of my tree! When I called my dad to let him know, all I could say was, “I got him.”
The rest of my night was filled with more memories as my 80-year-old grandfather came out to help me “track” the buck. We both laughed as we failed to lift the buck into the truck. Despite my grandfather’s offers to get a tractor, I shared the experience with a few other friends who came to see the buck and help load him. Eventually, the night settled back down, and I was able to reflect on just how lucky I was to stumble upon a few small details that made hunting this buck of a lifetime possible.
The buck green-scored 194 3/8 inches before the drying period, and I plan to get him officially scored once I get him back from my taxidermist. Ultimately, this was the bowhunting game-changer for me, because I always just picked stands hoping something would walk by instead of targeting a specific deer. This buck was also the reason I got into saddle hunting, because I was terrified of leaving behind anything that would tip off this smart old buck.