After a long walk through the woods in search of sheds tonight, I couldn't help but reminisce back on the bucks I remember seeing roam these woods but a few months ago. Unfortunately memories and a few pictures are all I have to remember these bucks by. No antlers on the wall, no mounts above the fireplace. Nothing but close calls, shaken nerves and a handful of "what-ifs". So if you don't mind, come along with me as I lament the tales of the ones that got away...
"Lefty" - Here we have a Michigan buck I dubbed "Lefty", because of his longer brow tine on the left side. I first caught this buck on trailcam during the summer and then followed his every move over the following months with play by play accounts from friends on neighboring properties. He was a very visible buck and plenty of people had their sights set on him. My last sighting of Lefty was in September when I caught him on video as he walked along a field edge early in the evening. The next time I laid eyes on Lefty he was on the ground with an arrow through his lungs, after being shot by a friends wife.
"Basket Rack" - On that same piece of property I spotted another dandy buck, whom I referred to as Basket Rack. I was able to get some brief velvet footage of BR, but he never showed up on a trailcam. A beautiful, tall, symetrical 8 pointer, this buck was high on my hit list. I heard of a few sightings by others, but I never saw him again this the fall.
"Splits" - This nasty looking deer showed up unannounced under my treestand this fall on trailcam, and I immediately knew this buck would be on my radar. This buck isn't huge, but split brows aren't very common in my area, so a chance at a buck like this was a dream come true. Unfortunately I was never able to catch him on his feet during daylight. But as far as I know, he's still roaming the area today!
"Frank The Tank" - After scouring my new property I live on for 9 months, I had yet to set eyes on a mature buck. No sheds, no trailcam pics, nothing. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with the idea of hunting my backyard, so I planned on hunting other locations. Then October rolled around and Frank The Tank showed up. I know this buck wouldn't get a second glance in some areas, but this big bodied, old deer immediately raised my heart rate. I caught him on camera several times this fall, but never got him in front of me.
"Tall Tines" - Joining Frank on my home property was a buck I nicknamed Tall Tines. In addition to catching him on trailcam in October, I also had a first person encounter with this buck! Unfortunately it was while in my truck! I had just got done hunting a quick sit before work and as I pulled out of my driveway, I saw Tall Tines running along the side of my dirt road, just inside the cut corn! I stopped, we stared at each other and he laughed at me...Never saw him again and I didn't sleep for a week.
"Nebraska Tall Tower" - I didn't personally run into this buck, but he was a source of great frustration for me. After hunting Nebraska hard during the first week of November, with no mature buck sightings, I was obviously a bit peeved. But my blood pressure increased significantly when my buddy sent me trailcam pics of this buck showing up repeatedly the week after I left, 20 yards in front of my stand. Ain't that the way it always goes.
"Big Buck" - This buck here was responsible for one of the most exciting moments of my 2010 season. After getting lost in a deep Illinois draw while trying to find our treestand, my camera man and I gave up and headed to an easy to find stand on the edge of a cut bean field. Despite it being light already, we decided to sit tight for an hour two and then regroup for a good afternoon/evening sit. Corey clambored up to the treestand and began setting his stand above it. Once he was done, I was motioned up and I began the climb. But about half way up I heard Corey, in a half whisper/half scream, say "Big buck! BIG BUCK!". I immediately froze, then I was instructed to get up to my stand fast, then freeze again, then get up! I finally was able to get into my stand and pull my bow up. Walking down the edge of the cut bean field, about 80 yards away, was a giant 155-160 class buck. Unfortunately he had better things to do that day than get an arrow in his chest, so he decided to avoid walking across in front of us. What a bum. Despite the fact that I didn't get a shot, the whole encounter sent my nerves over the edge and I hardly could keep myself from shaking off the stand for the next 20 minutes.
So, as frustrating as it is to look back at these bucks that so cleverly evaded me for three months, it is also incredibly encouraging to know that I was even on these bucks at all. And I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, 2011 will be the year they don't all get away!