The story behind my buck of a lifetime from Madison County

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DDD

Winter Weatherman
I didn't share the whole story of my buck from Madison County. I posted the pics of him back in December when I killed him but yesterday I picked him up from my taxidermist. He was supposed to be shown today at a sportsman's banquet but the COVID-19 changed all that. It has been postponed and whenever they re-schedule it I will have him there.

Never the less, I always like to read a good hunting story and I thought I would share this one with you guys and give you something to look forward to this fall in the woods.

I have been leasing 100 acres in Madison County now for 6 years. All of the large tracts of land around me, everyone practices QDM. Large bucks only is what most of our large land owners practice. We do have a lot of residences that border not only my property but my neighbor's property so I cannot speak for how they hunt or what they may shoot in their backyard. We started feeding year round 2 years ago along with mineral blocks galore and salt licks in the off season.(Just giving you some background). My property is all woods but the land owners around me all have food plots. We plant our roads where we can but it is limited.

I have taken 2 shooter bucks off this property in the last 2 years before I shot my 2019 buck. He made number 3 on December 10th of this past season.

I had cameras out from August forward. I had never seen this deer ever. Nothing like him since we have had the property. On October 19th I had him show up at 2AM on my camera. 3 days later he showed up again at 12AM. I texted my neighbor and asked him if he had seen him. (We share information pretty regularly to keep a check of what we will shoot and what we won't and what we have seen) He said he had. That he had pictures of him in the day time (something I did not) and that he was a regular at his property and at the neighboring property south of him. I continued to get pictures of him off and on all from 12AM - 5AM. Not one picture of him in the daytime.

We have plenty of does on the property and I felt like eventually during the rut he would make a mistake and come looking for the girls but it just never happened. I was starting to lose hope that I would see him in the day time. The pictures at night were multiple does and him in hot pursuit or right behind them. Then something happened that I thought might be to my advantage. On the property next to me where they had pictures of him in the day time they were select cutting timber there and they had started cutting in the pines that bordered our property. I got to thinking... if I was a deer, chasing does at night around food sources and I knew that big tree cutting machine was disturbing my bedding area, where might I go? Sure, I knew it was possible he could have gone to other properties but we had planted pines on the northern side of our property that had not been hunted all season. No pressure there, no noise, really thick and a great place to sleep during the day.

My uncle is retired and my job affords for me to hunt at times during the week. Rain (surprise, surprise) was in the forecast for December 10th. We had planned on hunting that Tuesday December 10th from the weekend. We couldn't make the weekend work and Tuesday was the earliest we could hunt. I looked at the weather maps on Monday and could see that the rain was coming but, it might not start until after 12PM. Before the season started we had hung a ladder stand on a steep ridge that points North and borders the Broad River. Directly in front of that stand was the planted pines to my north. Our main feeder and my trail cam that I had all the pics off of was behind that stand about 100 yards over the ridge and back over what would be my left shoulder.

My Uncle and I split off from each other on ATV's off of an old logging road. He went to a ground blind that was on the opposite side of our feeder and backs up to the neighboring property where they were clearing trees. I parked my ATV out of sight and started walking in the darkness down the logging road and then I reached my turn-in spot to head through the woods and across a creek that runs West to East and feeds into the Broad River. I don't like to walk with my flashlight on anymore than I have to. I have had many situations where I believe that shining my light all through the woods does not do me any favors. So I was walking in darkness as my eyes were adjusted to the darkness well now and I was familiar with where I was. Just as I got to the creek I heard limbs snapping and the sound of an animal running towards me. I assumed it to be a deer but we have hogs on the property too, so my heart rate got up pretty good as the deer ran right towards me and then ran to my right and crossed the logging road behind me now about 30 yards. There were 2 of them and I could see their silhouette in the darkness as they calmed down as they crossed the road. My best guess was that my uncle had spooked them and they were on a run until they felt they were far enough away. I just stood there in the darkness listening to them ease away to my North. I let the woods settle down to where all I could hear was the creek running. It was cloudy, but there was enough light to see 5 feet or so in front of me. I eased across the creek.

From the point you reach the other side of the creek it is a steep 25-40° incline up to the stand. I kicked my flashlight on. I didn't want to misstep and take an unforeseen trip down the hill to the creek. I climbed the hill to the stand. I had put some corn out there a week before hand and the ground was clean. Hogs had been in there and tore it up. There were a few kernels here and there but it was picked pretty clean. I got up in the stand. It's a two man stand so I had room for my pack and rattling antlers. I got situated and got quiet. It was not super cold for December 10th. Warm moisture was inbound out of the Gulf of Mexico and the humidity was up there.

I closed my eyes. A high school friend of mine had gotten sentenced to 3 years in prison the day before for some mistakes he owned up to. I had not talked to him but read it in the paper. I sat there, eyes closed, praying for him. I prayed for a lot of people and things that morning and thanked God for another day to be in the woods. Any day you are in the woods is a good day to thank the good Lord for it. The sun began to come up. The woods began to wake up. The birds were chirping and there was a little wind. I checked the wind. It was out of the South East / East. That was good I thought. They should be coming down the creek bottom or across the wind from my left headed to the bedding area or... coming from the bedding area North to South with the wind across their nose. I was in a good spot in my mind.

The sun was getting up and the clouds were thick so the light was not like sunlight. You know the light if you've been in the woods much at all, like a soft white bulb getting brighter by the minute. It was 7:20 and a squirrel started complaining over to my left. I scanned the creek bottom hard. Didn't look up the ridge. I had convinced myself they would be walking dead into the wind. When the squirrel started complaining I stood up to look up the creek. I was scanning hard when I heard that familiar sound of the deer cadence in the leaves. I turned to look up the ridge back over my left shoulder and there was a large deer with a heavy rack. I had 2 other shooter bucks on the camera and I knew it had to be one of them, but I wasn't sure. He was angling down the ridge coming right to me. I mean RIGHT TO ME. He walked behind a set of trees at just a casual slow pace. I never turned my body as I reach over to my right and slowly lifted my .270 Browning A-bolt from where I had it propped up against the safety rail of the ladder stand. As he came from behind the trees now at about 20 yards I knew it was the "Trash Man". I nicked named him that because in the trail cam pics it looked like "trash" on the base of his antlers. He looked my direction for a moment and I froze. He put his head back down picking through leaves and wagged his tail. I slowly worked the Browning up to my shoulder. When I put my eye in the scope I realized I was zoomed in way too far. I had it zoomed way up looking at a deer the last time I hunted and never backed it off. I wasn't worried. I had shot so many deer with this gun since I was 18 (42 now) I was confident. He was head down the ridge, perfect broad side shot at 15 yards. I kicked the safety off as he was nosing hard in the leaves for white oak acorns and squeezed the trigger. The .270 roared the 7:20AM woods to life. He spun around 180° now facing back up hill and just looked around like "What the..???" I had missed.

As soon as I squeezed the trigger, I bolted another one in. I realized I had missed and because I was zoomed in too far. I believe I shot over his back because, the steep angle of the hill and I presume the bullet landed down in the creek somewhere. I didn't hit anything around him so he didn't run. He snapped his head around 2 or 3 times as I slowly un-zoomed the Redfield scope. He took a few steps like he was going to go back up the hill. I re-shouldered the rifle, now zoomed out I put the crosshairs right in his lungs as his good vitals were behind a tree... squeezed the trigger "CLICK". Nothing. I could not believe it. I have killed 40+ deer with this rifle and this is happening. Now. UNREAL. I ease the bolt back and to my surprise, no bullet. What the heck? What in the world? I pull the bolt all the way back and look. The bullets in the magazine have not pushed up high enough. The spring loaded "bed" in the magazine had not pushed up all the way. I was holding the gun with my right hand and had to reach with my left and touch the bullets and they quietly sprang up in the right spot. I closed the magazine up, watched the bullet bolt into the gun this time. Now he's calmed way down and is back in the leaves. He's nosing around and he has circled the trees he's behind. I shoulder the gun, and again, due to another set of trees hes found his way behind I can only see the back half of his lungs. I learned a hard lesson on a big buck many years back waiting on the "perfect" shot. I held the crosshairs right in the back lung zone and squeeze the trigger for the 3rd time this morning. The .270 answered the call and the bullet found it's mark right where I put it. The 3rd time.

This time he buckled, and shot off down the hill, leaped across the creek and out of sight. I could hear him running and then I heard a big crash and... silence. I knew he was down. About 3-4 minutes later I heard "the kick." I knew the Trash Man was down. I couldn't believe it. I sat back down and corner rested my gun. Then the shakes set in. My watch told me to breath. I started texting my Uncle. Then another member on our lease. Then my wife and then all my hunting buddies. BBD. That's all I sent. I didn't have good cell service. I told my Uncle to stay put. It was early and I wanted him to get one. Also, I have had big bucks show up after killing a big buck. There was no need to get down just yet. I was texting people back and forth. I was doing anything to pass time. After 45 minutes I could not take it anymore. I lowered my rifle down. I got down and eased over to where he had last been standing. There was blood. Good blood. That made me feel good. I went down the steep banking that was angling down to the creek. I had last seen him take a big leap here and I picked up the blood trail on the other side of the creek. He was running right to my ATV if he stayed on this course. As I looked up the other side of the creek, there he was. He had tried to climb the opposing bank and didn't make it. He had slid back down the hill to stop and there he was. I walked up and took the barrel of my gun and just touched his eye. (If you have never had a deer jump up on you at close range, I highly suggest you do this to make sure he has passed) To put my hands on his antlers was something I cannot explain. I still look at him and can't believe I caught him slipping. Deer of a lifetime and took him on Georgia soil.

I am going to have him scored as soon as this COVID-19 craziness passes. He has a main frame 10 and 7-8 extra points at his bases. I call them ear guards. there are a series that run back towards his ears and some smaller ones on the front that you could call eye guards. His main beam on the right side is extra thick and has a "vein" on the inside of it. Lots of character that is just flat out impressive.

The great thing about this buck and I think it's one of the reasons we enjoy going into the woods is that we never saw this guy until October. He gave me a heck of a hunt and solidified what I thought he might be doing in his day to day operations.

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Swamprat

Swampbunny 🐇
Cool story and great buck
 

bfriendly

Senior Member
Man that is a bunch of trash He’s showing off! Buck of a lifetime and yeah we got some good ones in GA. Congratulations!
 

DSGB

Senior Member
Great buck and story! He's got some gnarly bases, for sure.
 

Doe Dirt

Senior Member
Good story, just shows ya that you never know what might show up. I like the form used on that mount. Looks really good, what is that position called?
 
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