The opening morning of the 2018 buck firearms season found me in the right place at the right time. A couple of years ago I put a ladder stand up at the edge of a powerline right-a-way in a hemlock tree where I’m well concealed and can see a long ways in both directions. I always see deer when I sit in the stand but I’ve never had one get any closer than 50 yards.
This year I decided to purposely leave the ladder stand alone and avoid that area until buck season. I figured there was no reason to venture in there during bow season since the closest deer trail is 50 yards away and just out of the range I’m comfortable at shooting one with a bow. Last year I saw several deer during the week of buck season from the ladder stand and there was one buck in particular I had a couple of encounters with.
He was a main frame 8 point with nice long main beams but his tines on the right side were all busted off. Right then and there I started referring to him as the busted 8. I decided to let him pass on two different occasions last year due to his busted up rack. My neighbor gave him a pass as well.
This summer I deployed a trail camera on the edge of a field full of clover and low and behold the busted 8 came through and posed for a picture but his headgear looked more impressive than last year. He gained an extra tine on the right side and was a real nice looking 9 point in velvet. Once the velvet shed he came back for another photo opportunity and to my surprise his right g3 and g4 were broken off once again.
As the 2018 deer seasons began, I started hunting for the busted 8 and a big 6 point that’s been a big 6 for at least 4 years now. I believe the big 6 to be at least a 6 ½ ye==ar old deer. With a couple of mature bucks in the area I was really looking forward to buck season.
I saw the busted 8 on one occasion during bow season from a ground blind in the same powerline right-a-way but on the other side of the property. The big 6 made an appearance on the Thursday before the opening morning of buck season from another blind overlooking a pond so I knew he was still hanging around.
I’ve passed the big 6 a few times over the past few years due to his lack of points. I saw him last year during buck season from the ladder stand as well. As opening morning approached I knew where I was going to be sitting once the sun came up over the ridgetops. The weather was perfect for opening morning this year with temperatures in the upper 30’s, a light frost, and calm winds.
It was still dark as I walked out the powerline under the light of the moon. Something caught my eye to the right out in the field and when I looked 2 coyotes took off hauling the mail. I continued on and climbed into the ladder stand and got situated.
It was nice and calm as day broke until the first shots rang off in the distance signaling it was indeed buck season. About an hour went by with only sightings of crows flying over and a grey squirrel that came down the hemlock tree right above my head. Once the frost started to burn off the deer began to move. A little one popped out in the powerline to my right, followed by another, along with two big does. I watched as they fed down into a hollow and out of sight. I scanned back to the left and saw a deer way out in the distance. I put the binoculars on it and immediately noticed antlers.
It was well over 350 yards away but even at that distance I was pretty certain it was the busted 8. He was moving and in no time walked through the powerline and disappeared. I kept watching in that direction and a spike came out and walked the road I came in on. The two bucks were definitely cruising looking for does as the spike never stopped and had his nose to the ground the whole time. Not 5 minutes later I looked and there he was the busted 8. He was standing about 200 yards away smelling the air for any scent. I wasted no time and quickly settled my crosshairs on him as he was standing broadsided. I took a couple deep breathes and slowly squeezed the trigger. He dropped and it was all over just like that.
I couldn’t wait to climb down and go lay my hands on him. I’m glad I let him pass last year and thankful he came back by this year. To me, that’s what buck season is all about. Start out by finding the mature bucks, be patient and hunt smart, and then move in and shoot the one you’re after. It’s always good when a plan comes together whatever it may be in life.