By Tommy Freeman
The Birthday Buck
Mid November in Southeast Ohio. It was my first time being able to bow hunt during the rut. I had just returned from playing basketball in Canada and being cut from my team. If I wasn’t going to be playing basketball this year, I was excited at the opportunity I had to get out in the woods. I had been out plenty of times during the early bow season in October. To this point I had harvested two does and now I was looking for a nice buck. As I climbed into the ladder stand at 4 in the afternoon I was anxious to see what came my way.
I was hunting over a standing soy bean field. It was the first time any of the Trifecta Outdoors gang had been in this stand. Before I could finish screwing the camera into the tree a spike buck topped the hill behind me. I moved cautiously so I did not alert him to my location. I finished setting up and took a seat to start scouting the area. I kept an eye on the buck as he moseyed around the timber line behind me. While looking elsewhere I lost sight of him and figured he had worked his way back over the hill. Although he was nowhere close to being a shooter buck, he had given me something to watch and pass the time.
As I turned my attention elsewhere I caught a glimpse of something working its way across the field. I turned my camera on and focused it at the animal. Instantly I thought coyote from the way it was running through the beans. As it reached the tree line at the edge of the field it turned my direction and started making its way up the corner of the field that my stand was in. I kept the camera rolling as the animal approached. When it came within range I came to the realization that the coyote was actually a dog. Another dog had joined it and after leaving some scat in the field they made their way into the woods.
I waited a few minutes and started to make some grunt calls. I heard some crashing in the brush where the dogs had traveled and thought that they might have found a deer and were chasing it back my way. Yet again the dogs traveled under my tree stand, made their way down the tree line, and galloped across the bean field. At this point darkness was edging closer and my blood pressure was rising with the thought the dogs had scared any deer away.
Less than 5 minutes later I spotted a doe working her way up to the corner of the field. I was giving Jeff updates on what I had seen with the dogs and informed him of the doe in the field. He was in town dropping off his car and decided to take a detour out towards where I was hunting instead of going straight home. About this time I spotted a buck with the doe standing in the beans. I have no idea how I had not seen him before all I knew is that by the size of this buck’s rack, he was a shooter
The two deer began to work their way back towards the road and I was beginning to come to the realization that I would not get a shot at this buck as dusk was approaching rapidly. As Jeff rounds the corner I hope that the buck will turn back my way and with Jeff doing a little yelling that’s exactly what happened. I will never forget hearing Jeff yell across that field and the buck turning around and making a beeline straight at me.
The doe had crossed back over the road and left the buck in the beans. As the deer calmed down and returned to picking beans I prepared myself. I drew back to looked through my peep sight to make sure my pins were still visible. This deer would have to hurry up if I was going to get a shot at him. It was too dark to video and my focus was solely on harvesting this mature deer. It seemed as if I waited another 20 minutes for the deer to reach the tree line that my stand was set in. As the deer worked its way behind me I tried to recall where there was an opening so my arrow would fly true. Before I drew I said a little prayer to my mom who had passed 3 years earlier. By this time it was almost too dark to see the deer through my peep sight while I was at full draw. I took a look with the string away from my face and located the deer once more. I hit my button on my bow mounted range finder. 12 yards. I put my sight in the middle of his body and although I could not see my top pin, I put it on the kill area.
I let my arrow fly and hoped for the best. The deer took off, ran about 15 yards and stopped. From the way he acted I thought I had shot over his back as he looked around to see where the noise had come from. All of the sudden the buck topples over and starts flailing his legs. I heard him take his last breath as a huge shot of adrenaline raced through my body. I climbed down from my stand and made my way to my buck. I called Jeff and told him the news. He grabbed his knife from the house and came to help me drag the deer from the woods. This was my first buck that I had killed with my bow. A 140 ¾ inch green score ten point. I couldn’t have been happier at that point. What made it better is that I had killed this buck on my birthday, November 19th. I had double lunged the beast and nearly dropped him in his tracks. This is a kill that I will never forget. The process of getting ready for the season, hunting hard, and all the hard work paying off made it an incredible 2013/2014 deer bow season.