February 11, 2022
Breaking News Buck
I have been hunting for over 20 years and have never seen what most would call a “trophy buck.”
Many of my friends who have taken trophy-class deer tell me the same thing over and over again: “You must pass the little ones to get to the big ones, James.”
I usually shoot the first buck I see that’s wider than his ears, so you can imagine how hard that was for me to follow; but I told myself this year would be different.
I hunted hard from September 2021 to February 2022 and passed over a dozen of those “out past the ears” bucks for the first time in my life.
Come January, all the bucks on the property I hunted seemed to just disappear. I immediately regretted not shooting several of the deer I passed during the season, and I dreaded the taste of tag soup.
But on Jan. 26, just as I was ready to hang up my hat up for the season, I got a trail camera picture of a buck that I had never seen before. I was eating a bowl of captain crunch and almost spit it out when I first saw the photo. So, I named the buck “Captain Crunch.” Not just because of the cereal I was eating when I saw the photo, but because I only had about ten days of season left, and I was “crunched” for time.
I got off work the next two days with too little time to hunt, so I chose to glass the fields for Captain Crunch during daylight, or just before dark. It turned out he wasn’t just passing through when he walked in front of my trail camera, he was staying close.
I hunted him for the first time on Jan. 29, and I saw over 30 deer that day, but no signs of Captain Crunch. I did see several large-bodied deer that resembled him, but they had already shed their antlers. I feared that one of these bucks may have been Captain Crunch, and that he had shed his antlers overnight.
That night my camera went off several times and sent me notifications. It was Captain Crunch! Just 30 minutes after dark he came out and fed in an old corn field right where I had walked out of.
I hunted him again the following day and had my first real encounter. He began feeding with the does on a neighboring property, about 500 yards away in a wide-open field.
Eventually, the does came onto my property and he followed them. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest the whole time! Captain Crunch came into 100 yards and stood broadside. The buck was staring directly at me for what felt like hours.
He watched several does come in and feed and he just knew something wasn’t right. He walked another twenty yards before dipping into the woods. He was too far to shoot, so I just had to sit and watch.
That was a Sunday, so I had to work the following week.
I got several pictures of him throughout the week, but he only moved between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. My assumption was that he knew I was there, and I made him nocturnal.
So, with the last two days of the season coming the following weekend, I made a plan to hunt all day just in case Captain Crunch decided to appear.
Saturday Feb. 5 (the day before season ended), I sat and watched two bucks come in, but both had shed their antlers. Eventually, they left. And I sat wondering what had happened to Captain.
I looked up and six deer appeared across the field well over 500 yards away. While glassing them, I noticed movement in the corner. It was Captain Crunch!
I focused on him, but I watched the does he was with, too. Neither he nor the does could feed because of the large snow and ice storm that had covered the ground. The does turned back and went into the woods, but Captain Crunch stayed.
For the first time ever, a trophy buck did exactly what I had hoped. He headed straight for me. My heart pounded faster with each step he took. Once he got to 100 yards, he hit the tree line where I had lost him last time.
When he made it to 60 yards, I saw his antlers appear over the brush line and I got my bow ready.
He got within 40 yards and walked right into my shooting lane. I grunted at him at mid trot, and he froze. I took the shot and my arrow hit the buck right where I wanted it to!
He went five yards forward and stopped, then doubled back 10 yards to lay down in the same brush he came out of. I watched him lay his massive rack down and waited about 45 minutes to get down from the stand.
When I was about 15 yards away from my trophy buck, he suddenly got up and ran through the woods hitting every tree in sight.
I couldn’t believe that he was still alive. I knew I needed to give him time to pass, but the anticipation of getting my hands on the magnificent whitetail was killing me.
I went to dinner with my family and tried to do everything I could to get my mind off the situation and to let time pass. But I was stressed.
After about four hours, I couldn’t wait any longer. My brother-in-law assisted me, and the track began. The track lasted less than 10 minutes. Captain Crunch had fallen 80 yards away from where I jumped him.
My emotions ran through me like I’ve never felt before. My arrow had just slightly hit one lung, but luckily it got his liver.
I realize now that you must pass up some good deer to get to the better ones. Don’t ever give up until the final moments, because you never know what kind of opportunity you may get. I was patient and got my deer of a lifetime, this extra-wide, Ohio 13-point I called Captain Crunch.