Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
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Home / 3 Days to Kill

3 Days to Kill

July 29, 2015
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My 2014/2015 season was coming quickly to an end, and I had yet to hang my tag on anything but a few does for the freezer. I am fortunate to live in a state where our deer numbers are some of the highest in the country. In Tennessee our archery season comes in the last Saturday in September and closes usually the first Sunday in January at sunset. Our state is broken into 3 Units…Unit A, Unit B, and Unit L….The L stands for liberal and covers the middle portion of that state. In this Unit, from the day season opens, to the day season closes, we are allowed to harvest 3 does per day! How is that for liberal? This season had been unusual for me, as my work schedule kept me extremely busy, and my time in the woods was limited. I was able to harvest a few does early ┬áin the season, nut the closing weekend was on top of me and I had yet to shoot a buck. It was Friday morning before closing weekend, about 7:30 in the morning. I was eating breakfast, and was about to head out to meet a customer who I had a scheduled appointment with when my phone rang. It was the customer, and they were needing to reschedule the appointment for a later date. That left my day wide open, and with only 3 days left to kill a buck, I decided to head to a farm that I hunt that was only about 30 minutes away. This was my third season to hunt this farm, and I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in killing a good buck, as I had only seen smaller bucks and does in all of my time spent hunting there. It was however one of the most amazing turkey hunting farms as it was almost 3000 acres of cattle pastures surrounded by hardwood ridges. I admit that I have spent more time hunting turkeys in the spring there than whitetails in the fall because of the large quantity of turkeys on this place. I rolled through the gate at the farm about 10:00 that morning after running by the house to get my gear. It took me about 30 minutes to get to the area that I wanted to sit for a late morning hunt. It was on the lower end of a ridge where it funneled out to one of the cow pastures. I settled in next to the base of a large oak tree and pulled out my phone to check emails, and let’s be honest, Facebook as well! I was scrolling through my phone when I heard the first sign of movement coming off the ridge above me. It was one of the large flocks of turkeys picking through the leaves as they made their way to the pasture. As I was watching them, I caught a couple of does working their way down the heavy trail toward the turkeys. I kept peeking up at them as they casually strolled out into the pasture and began feeding. I must have gotten caught up in something on my phone for a little longer than I thought, because the next time I looked up I was looking at a buck standing only about 75 yards away from where I sat. The first thought that went through my head was “holy cow his rack is tall”!! It didn’t take me but a moment to know that this was a mature buck, and in that same moment I was easing my rifle up to my shoulder. I was holding my dads Winchester Model 70 chambered in 30/06, the same gun that I had killed my first ever antlered deer back in 1996. It was just a small 6 pointer that may as well have been a Booner when I shot it because it was my first buck. The rifle felt familiar as I steadied for the shot, and as I let out my breath I squeezed the trigger. Everything seemed to slow down at that moment, and I knew that I saw and heard the impact of the bullet as it hit the big bodied deer. He spun to his left and took off like a thoroughbred swatted with a switch and headed over the hill out of sight. The adrenaline rushed through my body, I was pretty certain I had just shot my biggest buck ever, and I began to shake. As a hunter, that was the “high” that makes us get out there in pursuit of success! I replayed the shot in my mind, but questioned myself of the hit because of the reaction of the deer after the shot. He looked as though he was just spooked, and bolted out of the field. I chose to back out of there, and would give him some time to go down before looking for any sign of him at all.I made a call to one of my buddies, I felt more confident in the shot by explaining the whole chain of events to him. I still went in to town and grabbed a pack of peanut M & M’s and a Mt. Dew to keep from going crazy thinking about this deer. It took me about an hour to make the round trip, and I was anxious as I put my truck in park close to the pasture where I last saw him run. I took a deep breath as I stepped out of the truck and started toward the spot he had been standing. Nothing?!?!?! There was not one sign of that deer having been hit, no hair, no blood, nothing! My stomach felt sick, but I held myself together and just started walking in the direction he had run. I was scanning the ground for any sign of the hit when movement caught my eye. I looked up to see a couple of tom turkeys at the end of the field trying to find a hole in the fence to get through since they had spotted me first. To the left of them just standing in the field was a buck, and it was locked in on the guy who was totally focused on the ground in front of him to notice the deer looking at him! It turned out to be just a small buck, and he stood there stomping his front legs and even walking toward me a few yards! I continued my pace and even yelled at the deer to get out of there, as he was obviously not the deer I was looking for. He snorted at me, took a few more steps toward me, then bound away and into the thicket…at the same moment his white tail disappeared, I caught the flash of an antler in the tall weeds right where that small buck had been standing. It was my buck, and he had not made it 100 yards down the hill from where he had been shot. I ran to him, and was elated to put my hands on his antlers…they were as impressive up close as they had been when I got the first glimpse of him earlier. His body size was as impressive, he was one of the biggest bodied deer I had seen in Tennessee and would weigh out to 165 pounds on the scale later field dressed. I regret not taking any recovery pictures, and did not get any field pictures until I made it to the taxidermist a little later that day. I had a trail camera in the area that I was hunting, but had zero pictures of this deer, and had zero encounters with any bucks of this magnitude on the property. I feel fortunate enough to have been in the right place at that moment, was blown away to be able to harvest my best whitetail ever. I will be taking him to a QDMA Banquet in August of this year to have him officially scored. Rachel Burchett, owner of Burchett’s Untamed Art is mounting this deer and was also the photographer for me the day I harvested him. With only 3 days left in the season the day I shot him, I was tickled! I put my rifle away and did not even go back out the next 2 days, I didn’t need to…my season was more than complete with this notch in my tag!

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