During the peak of the rut my field producer, Melissa Bachman, and I were after a buck we named Heffner (he seemed to always have a girlfriend nearby). Melissa was running the video camera and we were filming for SHE's Beyond the Lodge.
We were bowhunting a 100 acre lease not far from my house in central Illinois, prime big buck country. Heffner was one smart buck. The first time we spotted him he was well hidden in CRP grass and refused to take a step into the open as he surveyed the area for several minutes. Try keeping your act together with a 170 class buck less than 60 yards away from the food plot where your decoy is patiently waiting to lure a shooter into range. Heffner took a different route that did not bring him in range of my tree stand.
On my second encounter, Heffner wanted no part of the Bucky Jr. decoy and neither did his current love interest. The doe passed through one of my 40 yard shooting lanes, refusing to go toward the decoy. Heffner began to follow her. Unfortunately the doe got downwind and spooked, sending Heffner back where he came from.
In the meantime, back at my house a mystery buck decided to blast our Glen Del target to pieces, scattering parts for twenty yards. I put it back together and, yes I know, should have taken the antlers off because the second time the mystery buck attacked, he broke the front legs of our target. I sat the body back up in a hurry and left it as if shooting at a bedded buck. Mystery buck knocked it over a third time. My mind was on Heffner, but this mystery back yard buck was beginning to make me mad.
My husband, Stan came home early from a successful hunt and Melissa had to leave. So Stan said he would run the video camera for me. We decided to go after our back yard mystery buck. Our property is only 8 acres in the country but with the rut in full swing, deer were moving through our timber on a regular basis.
With the Bucky Jr. decoy set up and Stan behind the camera my hopes were high. He rattled in 3 bucks on our second morning. One of the bucks was a shooter and he started making his way through the timber right to our decoy. As he circled to get down wind of Bucky Jr. it gave me a quartering away shot. I was shooting a Mathews DXT and sent the Muzzy 3 blade right where it needed to go. My back yard buck went down less than 80 yards from my tree. I cannot say for sure he was the mystery buck, but the target hasn't been knocked over since.
Back at the lease, Heffner was still chasing does. He was spotted with a doe in the middle of a wide open field during the gun season. Would he make it through the rest of the year? Thanks to our grandson Tristin we have the answer. He found one of Heffner's sheds today. It was the first shed he ever found and he spotted it all by himself. The big antler was in the timber not far from where I had seen the buck in the fall. Now we know Heffner made it through all the late hunting seasons and the winter. Thanks to our little shed master I have started counting the days to next bow season!