"In Pursuit of Mr. Big"
Written by Trent Smith, aka OSOK here at MonsterMuleys.com
Trent (OSOK) is one of our most valued visitors. He's a very knowledgeablehunter and has several trophy animals to his credit. Be sure and checkout some of thegreat info. that he has shared in our hunting forums.
During our preseason scouting trips, we had spent more time than ever looking for a good, trophy class buck. However, if was tough. I couldn't find anything that even came close to what I wanted. Never the less, we kept looking, toying with our muzzleloaders, and getting more discouraged with every scouting trip.
I have hunted this same area every year for the past 12 years. And, up until the past couple of years, it has been phenomenal. But with the CWD problem, the deer had been decimated in the area. The big bucks were proving to be very difficult to find.
Kyle had also drawn an antelope rifle tag in the area, so we spent opening weekend looking for a better-than-average goat for him to harvest. By the last day of the antelope season, Kyle still hadn't been able to meet up with a good buck. However, as we made our way along a ranching road with about 30 minutes of hunting left, Kyle's voice cracked as he excitedly said, "Da-da-da-Deer"!
I knew immediately that it was serious and quickly began looking around. Then I saw them; about 150 yards out were six bucks bounding away. At first glance I knew the first two were definitely HAWGS! I hurried and pulled off the road and got out the spotting scope. I couldn't believe my eyes, standing before me was one of the largest bucks I had ever seen alive in the wild, in my entire life!
Needless to say, our feeling of discouragement had taken a 180-degree turn. We were now in a total state of adrenaline fed euphoria. "Where did these bucks come from?" is what we kept asking ourselves.
Trent's buck officially scores 225 3/8 gross, and 221 6/8 net non typical. And,would place quite high in the Longhunter record book.
It was a long wait, the few weeks seemed like months, but finally opening day had arrived! We found the biggest buck in the same area where we had seen him so many times before. Conditions were perfect as I watched and waited for him and his buddies to lay down. Kyle watched from a quarter of a mile away as I had made a perfect 400-500 yard belly crawl stalk.
I was hoping to close the distance to 50 yards before taking a crack, but one of the other two bucks spotted me at 90 yards. I froze and waited for the big boy to stand, hoping that he would before the small buck took off running. That small 2x3 just wouldn't give me break. It took 20 minutes, with a set of eyes on me the entire time, before I was able to sneak a little closer and take a shot at the big buck as he lied in his bed.
Can you say heartbroken! I couldn't believe my eyes when that huge buck jumped from his bed and bounded off. I just sat there in disbelief.
We ended up going to another area that afternoon, so we could try and figure out what had happened with my muzzleloader and to give the bucks a chance to settle down. I took a 90-yard shot at a milk jug, in the same wind, and same angle. Dirt flew about a foot underneath the jug. I was really starting to get upset, so Kyle took the rifle, shot, and had the exact same thing happen. We took out his rifle and each shot two holes, side by side, in the middle of the jug. That was enough for me to say, "I'm using your gun, if I get another chance".
Late that evening, we found the bucks were back in the same feeding area only a quarter of a mile from where they were earlier that morning. We were very lucky!
We watched them from a distance, as I didn't want to pressure them at that time. I believed that because the wind had been blowing so hard and because I never made my presence known by sight, they really hadn't been spooked too much by the shot I took earlier in the day.
Monday found me back at work in my chair trying to lick my wounds. Man it hurt, I even remember shedding tears after watching that big ole' buck bound off. It was like one continuos nightmare until Wednesday, when we finally decided to head back out. We made the two-hour trip after work on Tuesday, set up our tent, and I spent one of the longest nights of my life wondering whether I would ever get another chance at him.
We awoke at predawn, had our ceremonial oatmeal, and set out. We began our glassing before we really could even see. It took five minutes before I finally said, "I got deer!" Amazingly, the bucks were in the same field, but on the opposite side. The wind was perfect and steady.
We watched until they bedded, then I studied the landmarks of where they were and what lead to them. And then I was off. This time they had bedded in an even easier spot for me to get on them, as I only needed to crawl on my belly for approximately 300 yards. This time I told myself, I'm making 50 yards before I take the shot.
I kept my head down and made sure that I wasn't suspected this time by one of the big bucks little buddies. When the range finder read 55 yards I took a couple of more slithers through the grass and said OK. I told myself, in disbelief, your sittin' pretty. Now the waiting game began!
I sat on the bedded bucks for the better part of what seemed to be an hour waiting for them to stand up. Finally, I decided it was time to try a get them to stand. I got the bipod out, readied the rifle, and made a lil' whistle under my breathe. Immediately they all stood at full alert.
Mr. Big, as I dubbed him, was angling away from me looking back over his rump. All I had was a very small window to hit vitals. This time, making sure I wasn't going to miss, I held the red dot fiber optic, as I peered through the peep sight, smack dab in the center of his side, right behind his shoulder. KABOOM!
When the smoke cleared, no deer! But, only two smaller bucks were running off. I had ended my nightmare. The bullet had struck the monarch at the base of his neck, dropping him instantly in his tracks. Too this day, I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have seen such a beautiful buck, much less had a chance to redeem myself, and harvest, the buck of my lifetime--so far!
Editors note: Trent's buddy, Kyle, and his dad also took big bucks in 2001. Kyle harvested his buck three days later. It is a heavy, 29-inch 7x7 that grosses right at 200.
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