Like a lot of stories in the modern age of bowhunting, this one starts with a single trail camera picture. Two days after the Wisconsin muzzleloader season ended, my brother Rick was checking cameras and got a shock when he looked at the pictures and saw a buck we had never seen before. He called me up and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I am looking at a picture of a perfect 12.” Since December 10th, this buck was simply known as “Perfect 12.”
Now, we have a dilemma. With the extremely wet late summer and heavy clay ground that our property sits on, we were unable to get our food plots in. Essentially, we have no reason for this buck to stay on our property. Since baiting is legal in WI, (two gallons per 40 acres) we decided to give it a try. We knew it would be nearly; remember I say nearly, impossible to kill a mature buck like this over bait. Our plan was simply to provide a food source we were lacking, place trail cameras there and hunt it as if it were a food plot.
Over the next couple days we placed two gallons of corn at five different spots over our 560 acres. Two of those spots were at box tower stands that my nephew, Nick Schafer, could hunt out of. With the early snowstorms we had this year, there was going to be a limited amount of areas that he could get to and hunt from his wheelchair. But, with those snowstorms and deep snow, little did we know how effective the feeding would be at these stands. With no food plots or standing crops within a few miles of us, the deer took to our new food sources very quickly.
Over the course of the next week we ended up getting a number of trail camera pictures of Perfect 12, but like we suspected, all at night and at different stands. He seemed to have no real pattern. On December 20th, to our amazement, we got several daytime pictures of him at one of the stands Nick would be able to hunt. Unfortunately, as you can see, the date and time was wrong on the camera. I had forgotten to check the batteries on the DLC Covert and in the extreme cold weather the date and time were reset. With the very busy Christmas season in the family grocery business, Nick and his dad Jeff (another of my brothers) would not be able to hunt the stand until the following week.
The day after Christmas we headed up to the cabin with high hopes that this buck would still be visiting Nick’s stand in daylight hours. Shortly after getting in the stand, does, fawns and even a couple young bucks that had shed both sides starting filtering in. It wasn’t long before it was getting dark and the hopes that Perfect 12 would show had faded. Over the course of the next couple weeks, Nick and Jeff were able to hunt a few more times, but the result was always the same, lots of does and fawns, but no Perfect 12.
On January 8th, with two days left in the WI archery season, we took Nick and Jeff out to the stand. The idea of getting a shot at Perfect 12 had disappeared and Nick was planning on shooting the first big doe that walked in. It didn’t take long and Jeff was fast asleep in his chair, sawing logs and dreaming of big bucks. A few minutes later Nick sees movement 60 yards in front of them. For a moment, he thought he was dreaming as well, as Perfect 12 seemingly materializes out of thin air. Trying to wake his dad, Nick whispers, “big buck.” He could hear Jeff stirring a little bit and simply said, “don’t move, big buck.” It didn’t take long for Jeff to see the giant walking at them, turning his head to the side to get his rack through the brush.
Let me say, at this moment, if I could pick one person who I have 100% confidence to make a shot in an extreme high-pressure situation, it would be Nick. I have never seen a person so calm and patient when it comes to shooting, as him. He rightfully earned the nickname “Deadeye” years ago.
As the buck approached the food, Nick shouldered his Ten Point crossbow and waited for the moment of truth. 30 seconds later, the buck gave him a perfect broadside shot. Like he’s done dozens of times, Nick squeezed the trigger and sent the NAP Thunderhead on its way through both lungs! Once again, Nick lived up to the nickname “Deadeye” and sent Perfect 12 to meet the Sandman and take a little dirt nap.
When I came in from hunting that night I could see the look on Nick’s face. Anyone that knows him will tell you that he has an infectious smile and when I saw it, I knew something great happened. After hearing the story of how Perfect 12 stepped out of the brush at 1:45 in the afternoon and Nick anchoring him with a perfect shot, I couldn’t wait to go help retrieve him take pictures.
Again, a huge congrats Nick, and a bigger Thank You for letting me be a part of it and being such a huge inspiration to me.