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Home / Luke Fabian / “Redemption”

“Redemption”

January 4, 2016
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If I could give a fellow bowhunter one piece of advice for hunting the rut I’d have to stress, “Get your butt in the woods, keep your head on a swivel, your eyes peeled and your ears open, because you never know what’s going to happen next.” And that’s just it. During the rut anything goes. You never know what’s going to come around the corner. It’s your best time to fill that tag, because the big boys are on their feet more during the day, and they’ve let their guard down. Yes, there aren’t 140 inch caliber bucks behind every tree, but they can come walking by your stand in search of a hot doe just as easy during the rut as a little basket rack. The best description I’ve ever heard of what it’s like seeing a giant bruiser of the mid-west walking towards your stand was, “It’s like a ghost appearing out of a wall.” Although I’ve never seen a ghost, I know it has to be exactly like that. They just appear and your hunt can go from a slow, boring night without seeing even a squirrel, to tagging out on your biggest buck ever in just a matter of seconds. It can happen that fast. I was fortunate enough to experience this magnificent occurrence first hand just last Wednesday, November the 12th. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article: my wonderful journey that day, and my chance at redemption.

The morning of the 12th came just as most do during the rut; cool and crisp. But after nearly two weeks of hunting my rear end off and not seeing one shooter even in the distance, that 4:30 a.m. wake up call wasn’t as pleasant as it was back in October. Temperatures were frigid all that morning starting in the mid-20s and then barely reaching the 30s by mid-day. The cold temps had the deer up and on their feet. I seen several smaller bucks in the 120s and 130s chasing does, hoping to finally wear them down to the point where they could possibly breed them. But the best thing I seen that morning was the picture my father sent me saying our buddy had downed a big eight off of another property. So when I retreated back to the house that morning, it was nothing but triumph and a sigh of relief from all of us because someone had finally got the first buck down on the ground for the year.

My father, Joe Fabian (left) captures a few memories of Chuck Beecher (right) and his beautiful Ohio buck he harvested the morning of November 12th.

However, in the midst of all the rejoice and reflection, we all knew we needed to get back into the woods as soon as we could for the evening sit. With the winds out of the west, the choices were quite limited for we have many stands set up for different winds to hunt out of, but just a handful are set up for a west wind. So although I couldn’t get in a prime location for the rut, I still wanted to go to a spot that could possibly have a dominant buck come cruising through.

I decided to get in a stand we had just hung a few weeks before. A quadruple trunk cherry tree that sits on the point of a ridge line. The deer cruise both sides of the ridge, and the flat that the stand over looks is a pinch point where deer almost have to come by. My plan was to hopefully catch a giant cruising the ridge in search of a doe. When I reached the stand, I began my routine I had carried out hundreds of times before. Tie my bow onto the pull-up rope, climb in, pull up my bow, set up the camera arm, attach the camera, and settle in for the night. Before I could finish my duties, four does busted up out of the bottom and up and over the other side of the ridge going full speed. But not because of a trailing buck, but because state workers began using a boom saw to start cutting protruding tree limbs on a power line just 400 yards below my stand. My heart sank. I figured there was no chance I’d see another deer all night. I couldn’t even hear if one was coming anyways because the saw was so loud. So I needed to be on my toes. Just a short five minutes later, like a ghost coming out of a wall, walked a giant whitetail of the midwest. By the time I seen him he was already 70 yards and closing! Quickly, I grabbed my bow and got the camera turned on and rolling film. The buck was massive. Just a stud. The first thing I noticed was how dark his rack was. And based off his mass, tine length and just overall stature I knew instantly he was a shooter. The first shooter I had seen all year: from on a trail camera, in the woods, from the truck, anywhere. So it came as a shock. Nobody had seen this buck before now. None of us anyways. But it didn’t matter. Because he was here now, and it was judgement day.

I filmed the buck walking in, taking strong purposeful steps as if he owned anything and everything around him. It seemed as though he was going 100 miles per hour, and it happened in an instant. I turned the camera to a shooting lane just twelve short yards away, and came to full draw as the buck passed behind a hickory tree. The moment of truth had came, and I was ready. The buck walked right into the camera’s viewfinder and I bleated to stop him. This would turn out to be a costly mistake… The buck stopped as if he was about to break through the Earth and fall down to the other side. Within milliseconds he glanced at me already at full draw, not moving a muscle, about to let an arrow loose, and just as fast, took off like a shot out of a cannon. I tried to raise up and put an arrow in him. But I was no match for the whitetail’s speed. The arrow slipped just past his shoulder and into the passive ground. The buck darted over the ridge and stopped at the peak just long enough for me to get a few more seconds of video before he bounded away not knowing exactly what had just happened.

The view from my camera just moments before the buck stepped into my shooting lane.

My heart sank to my stomach. I was in utter disbelief of what had just transpired. That buck had left my life just as fast as it walked into it. I thought maybe it was a dream. I kept trying to pinch myself… but I never woke up. The one chance I pray for to have at a giant Ohio whitetail every year had came and went. Many guys don’t even get that one chance. But I did. And I blew it. The encounter just kept running through my mind as I leaned my four head against the tree I was in. I thought to myself the chances of having a buck of that caliber walk within twelve yards of me was probably a million to one. So I knew the chances of him coming back ever, let alone that same night were astronomical. Just not possible. So my heart sank even further into my body. It was honestly the most distraught I had ever been over a big game animal. I just could not get the image out of my mind.

But that’s bowhunting for you. If you’re going to pursue this sport, then you have to have a short term memory and put that kind of stuff behind you, quick. So I tried to leave it in the past. And with comforting words from my girlfriend and from my father through some texts, I did. I turned my focus back on the hunt and the task at hand, putting the smack down on a big dominant buck of the Ohio woods. The night rolled on, and I had seen just a few other deer. A spike dogged a few does past my stand. Another two and a half year old eight point cruised through in search of a receptive doe. The light soon turned to dark as last shooting light was just a short fifteen minutes away when a doe came in and bedded just fifty yards away. Not even five minutes later, I heard a deep long grunt just out of sight in the brush. I let out a soft, deep response with my grunt call. Out came another two and a half year old eight point. But this one was different, he limped dramatically with every step of his front right leg. He kicked the doe out of her bed, and circled around to get within twenty yards of me, just off to my right. As he milled around for awhile, I heard a sound I will never ever forget. Off to my left, just a short fifty-some odd-yards away, I heard a giant branch snap, and the heavy steps of what I knew was a big big buck.

To my surprise out walked the EXACT same buck I had missed an opportunity at early that night! I couldn’t believe it. He had circled back around still in search of does, but had heard me challenge that other buck with a grunt call. Just as fast as the first encounter I grabbed my bow and came to full draw with the camera already rolling. The buck stepped out into a shooting lane at a much more challenging forty yards. With no interest in the other buck, and his feet at a halt, I knew it was then or never. Just as fast as everything had happened with this buck, I let an arrow fly. The lighted nock cut through the night like a screaming firework, and when it struck the buck’s side, I knew it was a great hit. It sounded like I had hit him in the shoulder with a baseball bat. With the arrow sticking out of his side, the buck bolted out of sight and into the thick timber. What happened next only added to the drama that had went down that night. It sounded like a 747 crashed into the timber as the buck fell to the ground. I raised my arms in triumph, and said the only thing that made sense, “REDEMPTION!”

What a roller coaster of a night. I went from being on cloud nine as one of the biggest bucks I’ve ever harvested walked into my life, to an all-time low when he left without an arrow in him, to an all time high when I arrowed him at forty yards in that timber. I’ve never been so excited to lay my hands on a buck before in my life. And I think it’s because of the journey that led me there. The fact I had him at twelve steps, then lost him. Then was blessed by The Good Lord above with another chance. And to capitalize on that just got to me. It was unbelievable. There’s no other word for it: just unbelievable. It just goes to show you what persistence can do for you bowhunting. I could have went home when they started cutting on the power line. I could have just as easily went home when I missed my first opportunity at the buck I will rightfully so nickname “Redemption,” but I didn’t. I kept on hunting. And it paid off. There are so many lessons that can come of this hunt, and I hope you can take at least one of them with you. Redemption scored a very respectful 150 inches, and goes down as my second biggest buck of my young bowhunting career. Look for this story to hopefully surface on a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel sometime in 2015. I’ll be sure to update you all, and let you know air times. I wish you all the best of luck the remainder of the season. Hunt hard, but hunt smart.

Here’s a picture of “Redemption” at his final resting place. Was a blessing getting to hunt, and harvest this magnificent animal.

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About Luke

Luke Fabian

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My Bio

I am a 25 year old from Cambridge, Ohio, a Muskingum University graduate, and the Education Coordinator for the Deerassic Park Education Center. I've been a bowhunting filmmaker and writer for the past 9 years. I've trekked across North America pursuing all sorts of big game with my bow. I host "Stick & String TV" on The Hunting Channel & I have my own series of hunting films on YouTube. You can also watch my whitetail hunts on Mathews Dominant Bucks TV. I'm chasing down my dream to one day be able to educate and entertain my fellow bowhunters at a national level. As a filmmaker and writer of the outdoors, my job is to bring my fans the best quality footage and top notch information of the outdoors. Not only I am trying to pursue big game with my bow which is a hard enough task in itself, but I'm also trying to lay down top quality footage at the same time. I want to bring you a story of the hunt. My videos and articles are not only for you, but for me as well. So we can both learn, but hopefully also be entertained at the same time. It's never been about being some big name in hunting. I just do it because it's what I love to do. It's my passion. I love to relive that adrenaline rush I get from bowhunting, and sharing that feeling with others. Filming and writing gives me that opportunity. Any way I can help my fellow bow hunters I'm going to try and incorporate that in my work.  So I hope y'all enjoy.