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The "Venti" Buck, Michael Venti

Hunting hard, thorough scouting, along with some advice from my wife as well as a good friend and of course with some luck, I harvested an awesome buck on Saturday November 5th, 2011. While scouting during the spring and summer in the area I hunt in New York,  I caught some glimpses of him here and there. I also got 3 sets of trail cam pictures of him. He looked like a great buck but I was never able to get a really good look at him. With every sighting though he was full of surprises €¦ and he kept getting bigger every time.

After hunting this buck hard all season I was beginning to wonder if he'd vanished. I wasn't getting new trail cam pictures of him and I'd yet to see him while hunting. There was little evidence that he was still in the area other than some massive tracks along with the unfortunate trees that crossed his path. The morning of November 5th I was on another property chasing a different buck when I got a call from my friend Joe who said he saw a hot doe being chased by two small bucks in the bruiser's territory. While considering where to go that afternoon, my wife Julie told me there is no choice, hunt the hot doe and see if this bruiser I'd been after all season was going to tolerate two other subordinate bucks chase her.

I headed to a stand close by where I thought they bedded for the day and even though I knew he was mostly nocturnal, the one thing I had going for me was that the rut was on and it was primetime to kill a buck of this caliber.

An hour prior to sun down I began hearing deer get up from their beds. Shortly after I heard some thrashing and a doe ran right under my tree stand. Next I heard a series of short grunts and a small buck hot on her trail came by my stand. Just when I thought that could be it, four deep tending grunts came from the same direction. I caught a brief glimpse of a rack and thought that it was probably one of the other bucks I had been seeing.

Nonetheless instincts took over and I knew it was time to grab my bow. After what seemed like an eternity after hearing the buck shuffle through some thick stuff, I saw some other does moving around. Then, I heard another set of deep grunts and spotted the buck. He started running perpendicular to my position taking a line that would present an ideal shot opportunity from a tree stand that was almost never hung this season. In a flash I finally saw the frame of the rack, my eyes could not believe it but my mind began focusing on the next 10 seconds that would make or break my season.

I immediately shifted my focus off of the rack and to where the moment of truth was going to take place. The buck stopped at 17 yards quartering towards me with his head behind a tree. I drew my Invasion bow and took a deep breath as he stepped right into my shooting lane. Then I shot. As an avid bowhunter I saw what I wanted €¦ an impressive frame running away in swift fashion, tail down and a wound from my Rage broad head right where it should be all after a 15 yard shot. Then I heard some splashing in the swamp, a crash and then nothing. Two more doe ran through and the only thing I could hear was the pounding of my heart.

After a quick search I couldn't find my arrow but saw some good initial signs of a solid hit. Even though I heard a crash and felt good about the shot, I began second guessing the situation and after consulting with some good friends I backed out and waited a few hours. My good friend Scott and his wife both came over and we headed out with the intention that at the first sign of a questionable blood trail we would return in the morning. After arrival to the location, what seemed like an excellent shot was quickly turning into my worst nightmare. We were finding very little blood as he headed into the swamp.

I quickly began to panic and started contemplating coming back in the morning. Looking for blood trails at night is difficult. But, Scott called out to me that he had found some more blood. When I got to his location he asked me to put my right hand out. As I extended it without really knowing why, he grabbed my hand and shook it while pointing the light to a deer laying in the swamp right where I had heard the crash. There he laid 70 yards from where I shot him. A massive 15-point buck that was double lunged. He was wide, he had unbelievable mass throughout his rack and both sides had TRIPLE brow tines — just an unbelievable animal. We went CRAZY — high fives, phone calls, pictures, just an awesome night to remember forever. Eventually Scott and his wife went back to get the ATV's and I was left with this buck of a lifetime and all could think of was how honored I was to harvest him. After we got him back to my house my wife came out to congratulate me, admire him and of course get some credit for her advice.


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