May 28, 2021
He was just another young whitetail in the fall of 2015 — nothing special, but always around. So, I saved pictures of him to see what he might turn into. That same year, I had some good friends help me design my 40-acre property into a whitetail wonderland. They warned me that even if I put in the extra effort to create more food and better habitat, that my small property may never hold mature deer.
Regardless of what could happen, I got after it and planted food plots, created bedding areas and applied screening edges made of warm-season grasses. I stayed out of all the areas designated as bedding and security. That first fall the results were obvious; my beans were gone by December. I continued to do everything in my power to improve my 40 acres. I hinge cut the light areas and made them nasty. My plan was to create different areas as bedrooms and do everything in my power to hold deer.
This one particular buck, and a few others, were becoming frequent visitors of my food plots. So, I stuck to my game plan, and I ended up having six different encounters with the buck that we ended up naming “Big Junior.” We called him “BJ” for short.
On Halloween day 2017, BJ slowly worked down one of my trails towards me on his way to a rub. I was shaking like a leaf in a windstorm as I sat and watched. He started moving towards the trail that crosses the logging road, so I grabbed my bow. But when I lifted it off the hanger, the broadhead clipped a limb and made a very light “tink” noise.
He froze. I froze.
After what felt like an eternity, he flicked his tail and turned around before walking off. I was sick. But BJ was using my improved property.
On November 12, 2017, I watched BJ walk just inside the wood line along the edge of my food plot. Just 20 minutes later a young buck came out, and the two sparred a little. This commotion pushed BJ and the young buck just 30 yards in front of my blind. I went to full draw and let the arrow fly. I watched as the arrow sailed right over his back! In all the excitement, I had used my 40-yard pin. BJ had been standing at 30 yards.
In 2018, I specifically redesigned one of my food plots into an L shape, just for BJ. I had several hundred rhizomes of miscanthus planted. This miscanthus screening was planted specifically for entering and exiting, but it also added security to my surroundings.
The 2020 season came, and I food plotted hard! I made sure this would be the year I would make BJ want to stay on my ground. He showed up in mid-October, sporting his best rack ever. It was obvious that he was in charge and comfortable on my property.
I kept my eye on the weather charts, and Friday, November 13 looked good! That morning I woke up and contemplated going back to bed, but my wife would not let me. So, I got up, rushed to get ready, and was in my blind by 5:50 a.m. At 6:30 a doe came out, and I could tell she was “hot.” She was panicked and kept squatting every couple steps. I knew there had to be a buck close, so I grabbed my bow and knocked an arrow. That’s when I heard a couple of grunts.
Then suddenly, from behind the weeds and brush, BJ came chasing! He bumped the doe closer to me, and she did a U-turn and jumped back in the timber. I drew my bow, grunted at him, settled my pin and let the arrow fly. It hit with a big crack! I prayed that my shot was true and that he would expire quickly. It was the shortest hunt of my life!
After I was sure BJ had moved on, I exited the blind and headed to the house. There I got to tell my 4-year-old daughter the news before her mom took her to school.
There was good blood down my arrow when we found it, and we followed blood into the thickest brush on my property. On hands and knees, we crawled along the blood, when suddenly we heard a loud roar!
BJ was laying down, but his head was up. He then laid his head down, and I stayed put and had my buddy work around to get closer. The next sentence out of his mouth were the words I had waited on for four years: “He’s dead, buddy!”
It was so incredible to finally be able to put my hands on this magnificent animal! We drug him out of the nasty thick brush, and my wife came to help with the truck. That night my buddy Kyle Heuerman took professional pictures of BJ. The next few days were awesome, as we took him to show friends. It was a great experience. What started out with a Halloween haunting in 2017 ended with a Friday the 13th celebration!
I’ve learned that no matter the size of your property, it can always be better. You don’t have to have the biggest piece; you just have to have the best piece!