January 06, 2011
By North American Whitetail Online Staff
Two hunters made their dreams come true with hard work, persistence and a little luck. Here's their story in their own words...
By Michael Ahlfeldt as told to Aaron Decker
My story begins in the summer of 2010. I, along with three of my friends, leased property for the first time in Ohio. None of us knew what to expect. Initially, the fields were overgrown, and there wasn't much sign of deer. We had a good feeling about the area because of the research we'd done using Google Earth and other online sites. But we definitely had our work cut out for us. We drove seven hours each way every other week, taking the camper, tractor, bush-hog and a sprayer. We made four trips to cut, spray, plant, plow and set up our trail cameras.
Equipment kept breaking, and due to the summer heat, we were starting to wonder if it was worth the effort. Two weeks later, our doubts were laid to rest when we saw four bucks in a single trail camera picture -- all in "Hell Field" (we named it "Hell Field" because every time we worked in that field, something would break).
One of the bucks in the picture had a main frame 12 with double drop tines, which we dubbed "Big Louie". We estimated him in velvet between 180 and 200 inches. It was the biggest buck any of us had ever laid eyes on from a trail camera.
A couple of weeks before hunting season we received yet another surprise from our trail cameras that were set up on Hell Field; another big buck was in the area. The buck we affectionately named Captain Hook looked to be a 150 to 180 class deer based on the images.
We looked at the trail camera pictures daily of Big Louie and Captain Hook, fantasizing that one of them would walk past us during hunting season. There was now no doubt now that the property and our hard work were worth the effort. We stayed in constant contact with each other, waiting with anticipation for the start of the hunting season.
Once hunting season began, I made the seven-hour trip from Pennsylvania to Ohio as frequently as I could. I was fortunate enough to be able to hunt a couple of weekends before the rut where I saw some 120 and 140 class bucks, but they weren't what I was looking for.
During these hunts, I continued to check the trail cameras. Big Louie was always with another buck we named "Nubbie," so we kept that in mind. Big Louie continued to make his presence known, showing up in different fields, but always at night.
As time went on, we also had some sightings of Captain Hook; a couple of daytime pictures and a few pictures at night. We knew we had two monsters on the property, and the rut was coming. The anticipation of what could happen in the coming weeks was at its peak. It would be a dream come true for two hunters with twenty years of hunting experience each to harvest these deer.
The rut had arrived and I was finally on my way to Ohio. I had five weeks to hunt the property and hopefully, drop either Big Louie or Captain Hook. The day I arrived in Ohio -- after unloading my car and getting camp ready -- I decided to forgo an evening hunt and relaxed the remainder of the day since I had five weeks to accomplish my goal. The next morning, with the wind being right, I decided to hunt a stand we called the Power Line. I saw a couple of bucks searching for mates, but nothing worth shooting. Before leaving the area, I pulled the card out of the trail camera near that stand and took it back to camp.
I was shocked to learn the night before, at approximately 6:30 pm -- while there was still plenty of daylight and I was back at the camp relaxing-- Big Louie was under my tree!
I was very distressed, because I thought I'd missed the opportunity to harvest this deer. I feared I would never see him again.
The next couple of days, I didn't see much, and I was still thinking of the missed opportunity with Big Louie. I couldn't stop thinking that my laziness on that afternoon might have caused me to miss a once in a lifetime buck all hunters dream of.
The morning of November 3rd, I was in a freshly placed tree stand, and daylight was on the horizon. It was a cold morning, with lows in the 20s and a wind that was 5 to 10 mph out of the Northeast. I could hear bucks grunting and chasing does in high grass and in the woods, but I couldn't see much of anything. A couple of hours went by and not much was moving. My hopes were fading, causing me to think yet again of the missed opportunity with Big Louie. At that moment, I happened to look behind me, and to my surprise I saw a doe headed down the side of a hill and thirty yards behind her...there he was...Big Louie!
At that moment, the wind shifted putting them upwind from me. I prayed that they wouldn't pick me off the tree. The doe stopped; but she didn't startle. I was hidden against the tree, and praying she wouldn't blow and take off. She looked and only hesitated slightly. She then walked past me. Big Louie was behind her, mimicking her every movement. He was then behind my tree. I drew back, needing him to come an additional three feet, but he'd stopped the exact place she had stopped. I was scared he'd pick up my scent and take off. I had one hole to shoot through at 18 yards.
He finally stepped into that hole and I took the shot. And it was a perfect shot.
Big Louie ran through the woods. I could hear him crash, but I couldn't see him. So many thoughts were going through my mind. Did I really hear him crash, was he truly dead? I found my arrow, and there was blood everywhere. About 40 to 50 yards later, there he laid, bigger than I had ever imagined, double drops kickers, mainframe 12. I DID IT! I sent pictures from my phone to my hunting buddies and everybody immediately started to call me with congratulations.
The next evening, while I was still basking in glory, my friend Steve arrived. The weather was a mixture of rain, sleet and snow for his first time out and Steve didn't see anything significant. Once the rain subsided, Steve decided to try out a new spot where we'd previously spotted a nice buck with four does. A half hour later, Steve sent me a text to bring the four-wheeler. Captain Hook was down. Steve sai
d the wind had changed and they had also caught his scent, but it didn't cause them to blow. It gave him the time he needed to put a 35-yard shot on Captain Hook.
From our first lease, within two days -- November 3rd to November 5th -- we shot two incredible bucks. One green scored at 195 7/8 (Big Louie) and the other green scored at 182 4/8 (Captain Hook). One gross Booner and One net Booner. The tough work we put in the summer was definitely worth it.