Seeing Spots

This young Ohioan hasn't been hunting long, but she's already taken a buck few others can match!

This huge piebald 11-pointer from southern Ohio's Clermont County is clearly a show-stopping trophy.
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Scarborough

I came to be a deer hunter later in life than many others do. However, I'd always been around it; my dad, James Losacker, was bringing deer and pheasants back to our Ohio home before I even can remember. In those days before cell phones, I recall as a young girl waiting up for him when he went hunting, anxious to see what he might have shot.

Whenever he got home with a deer, it was an exciting surprise for my mom and me. We always enjoyed eating venison, especially the jerky Dad made.

I always joke that my dad wanted boys, so he raised my sister, Melissa, and me as boys.

We were always outside, fishing, camping, playing in the creek at Grandma's or playing sports. As we got older, I took to horses, Melissa to soccer. Between the two of us, Dad didn't really have time to hunt much, so he gave it up for a while to support our school activities, sports or whatever else we wanted to do.

My sister and I grew up, got jobs and moved out. I was married in 2003 to Rick Scarborough and gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Savannah, the next year. Meanwhile, in '05 Melissa graduated high school and joined the Marine Corps. Four years later, she and Eric Hall married.

With us daughters finally out of school and on our own, Dad was freed up to start hunting again. He took to the woods again in '06. He immediately remembered how much he liked hunting and wanted to share his enjoyment with me. He believed I'd appreciate hunting as well -- and boy, was he ever right!

It was in late October 2007 that Dad first asked me to go deer hunting with him. The day before my first hunt, he taught me how to shoot a crossbow, which is legal to use during the general archery season here in Ohio. Dad showed me all the right ways to do things and had me practice shooting a target. We soon found out I was a pretty good shot, and I decided to go hunting with him the next morning.

As it turned out, I was in my tree stand for only an hour and 45 minutes before I took my first deer, a very nice 7-pointer. Dad called it luck, and I did too! That was the day I learned how to field-dress a deer. I was really proud of my buck. I didn't get to hunt again that year, but I was ready for the next season to begin!

When opening day of the '08 archery season came around, you can bet I was in my permanent tree stand overlooking a well-beaten deer trail along a fence line. However, I knew I wanted to wait a while before I took my first deer of the season. I wanted to learn their pattern and see which deer were out there.

There were many does around, and on a number of occasions I had clear shots at them, but I just followed them in the crosshairs on my scope. I practiced keeping the sight picture steady and learned where I had clear shots and where I didn't.

I knew nice bucks were around; there were plenty of scrapes and rubs, and I'd even found some sheds the year before. I'd also seen quite a few bucks in the brush, though never out in the open. Many times I'd just seen their racks and tops of their backs. On a number of occasions nice bucks and does passed by my stand, but still, I waited. I was enjoying my days in the woods, getting into my stand before sunrise and not leaving it until day's end.

Before the rut set in, Dad and I decided to walk the woods to look for more buck sign.

We found some new trails, as well as some rubs that just had to be from a massive buck.

We took pictures of the rubs because they were so high, and he had big trees just shredded. The sign was unbelievable!

Dad and I walked back to a part of Clermont County we'd never checked out. We found the perfect spot I wanted to hunt during the rut, but to do so, I'd need a climbing tree stand, and I didn't have one.

Dad offered to let me borrow his Summit Viper SS climbing stand, so we went back to his house to get it. Because I'd never even used a climber, before returning to the woods Dad took me into his backyard with the stand and said, "Now, climb this tree." So I did.

Using Dad's climber, I hunted that spot twice with no sign of the buck we knew was back there -- or any other deer, for that matter. The scrapes were always fresh, but never did I see any buck check them. I wanted to keep hunting that spot, but Dad decided he wanted to hunt with his stand in another part of the property. I went out and bought my own Viper SS climber, because I loved his.

The morning after I bought my stand was Nov. 9, prime time for the rut in Ohio. Dad and I were on the road by 4:30 a.m., and by 6 we were sitting in our stands. I was perched in my new climber, while Dad was set up less than 300 yards away.

The morning started out well, with three does making their rounds through the woods.

They were easy to hear, because of leaves on the ground, but not so easy to see.

However, once I spot a deer, it seems I never lose track of it.

The does hung around for a while, and I again practiced aiming and keeping steady. I enjoy just watching does; they're so majestic and graceful. The three finally moved on, and I hoped a big buck was on their trail.

About two hours later, a single doe walked up from behind my stand and checked out a scrape. She sniffed around and walked down a trail through the brush, then urinated. She finally moved out of sight on the same trail the other does had used.

Not more than 20 minutes later, I heard something walking toward me -- and it sounded big! I didn't even want to move. I didn't catch sight of whatever was walking underneath me until I got the nerve to lean over just a bit and look down. As the animal stepped out, I gasped. I just sat there, staring, wondering what in the world I was looking at. This was a deer the likes of which I'd never even dreamed of seeing.

The buck was the normal brown on top, but with the white usually restricted to a deer's belly extending way up his sides. His chest, neck and hind legs all had irregular white spots, and they even extended into the brown on both sides. He was just magnificent!

But it wasn't just this buck's coloration that stunned me -- his rack was exceptional as well. There was no doubt in my mind I should try to take him.

I waited, keeping the buck in the scope of my Horton 35th Anniversary crossbow until I could find a clear shot. Unfortunately, the "paint" buck stayed in the brush. He caught the scent the doe had left, then called out to her and headed straight for her trail.

All I could do was wait until he hit the clearing across the creek. While that seemed a long shot, I felt I could make it if given an opportunity. As the buck approached the clearing, I was thinking of some way to get him to stop in it. When he got there, I did what I had read and heard people talking about: I tried to grunt.

The buck kept on trucking. I made some other noise, but still no luck. Finally, I just yelled, "Hey!"

When the deer stopped, I was ready and took my shot. It all happened so fast. He jumped, spun around and ran off. I just sat there in my tree stand, afraid I'd fall out if I tried to climb down, because I was shaking so much. I could hardly dial Dad's cell phone number.

"Dad, I just shot a monster!" I said. "He was spotted! Looked like a paint horse with antlers!"

I suppose Dad thought, Boy, this girl is crazy. But he just replied, "Stay there, and I'll be right over."

It seemed an eternity before Dad got to me. When he did, I stayed in the tree as he walked to where I pointed. He told me the shot was too far for me to have hit the buck, but I knew I had.

As I climbed down, Dad yelled that he'd found my Horton Carbon Strike arrow and Wasp broadhead covered in blood, with white hair all over it. We followed blood for about 70 yards until it ended at the fence line. We then searched the woods and field in a 100-yard radius around my stand, but found nothing.

Dad still thought I was exaggerating the uniqueness of the buck's color; he felt what I'd shot was just an old, graying deer. He also thought I'd hit him way low, which would explain the long, white hairs on my arrow.

I was devastated at the thought of losing the deer. I love hunting, but what I'd never want to do is injure an animal and cause it to suffer. It just broke my heart. We looked for hours but finally had to end our search for the day. You can bet I was out there the next day to look for my trophy again, but unfortunately, there was still no sign of the "paint" deer.

Then my luck changed. The next day, Dad walked up on what he said looked like a "Holstein cow!" He'd found my buck, which apparently had run across the field and bedded along the fence line not 150 yards from my stand.

When Dad called, I immediately headed over. I was so happy the deer had been found, but so upset we hadn't found him sooner. When I walked up on the buck, I realized just how big and unusual he was. I also saw that coyotes had found him before Dad had.

Fortunately, they'd eaten only one of his hams.

Dad and I took pictures where the deer lay and debated what to do with him. My shot had hit pretty far back, which probably is why he'd gone so far, but it made me feel better, knowing I hadn't just wounded him.

Back home, I sent photos to every hunter I knew. My good friend Chris Deffinger texted me back with a request that I bring the deer to her place. Chris' husband, Tim, is a deer processor and a big-time hunter. After Dad and I tagged the buck, we got help to load him onto the property owner's Gator.

After getting the deer checked in, we headed over to Chris' house. More of my good luck showed when we got to their house. Bob Wood, an official measurer, was there, and he "green" scored the rack for me.

At the Deffingers' I learned that deer of this color pattern are called "piebalds," and that the buck's unique coat was even more noteworthy than his rack. But with the back end of the deer having been damaged by the coyotes, I elected to go with a shoulder mount.

After the 60-day drying period, Bob officially measured the deer for Ohio's Buckeye Big Buck Club. The 11-point typical ended up with a gross score of 155 2/8 and a net of 149 6/8, qualifying him for entry in the BBBC listings.

I feel blessed and extremely lucky to have shot this one-of-a-kind buck. I just can't wait for my daughter to begin hunting with her mommy. She turned four in June, and she already shows an interest in hunting.

I'm also lucky to have a caring and supportive husband who puts up with my hunting addiction. Interestingly, he doesn't hunt; nor has he shown any interest in starting.

Between you and me, I think he might be worried he could never match my "paint" buck!

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