Rack Magazine

If You Can Lead a Buck to Eat...

If You Can Lead a Buck to Eat...

By Ed Waite

And to think the 5x5 was a shooter FIVE RACKS EARLIER!

Ron Macak of Milwaukee bought two parcels of land in Iron County, Wis., in the mid-1990s. One was 13 acres, where a cabin stood; the other was 40 acres of hardwoods and a cedar swamp.

Finding a pair of 5-point sheds behind his cabin in 2005 was enough to convince him to concentrate on the smaller of the two tracts.

Ron got his first look at the 10-pointer he suspected had worn those sheds during Wisconsin’s 2006 muzzleloader season. He didn’t actually see it, but a trail camera twice photographed it. He saw neither hide nor antler again until November 2007, when the huge 5x5 was photographed over a scrape.

“At least I knew the buck was still alive,” Ron said. “But the more I hunted, the more frustrated I became. I never saw it, and the pictures stopped.”

In the spring of 2008, Ron decided to try planting another food plot. He’d already cleared an area about 50 by 100 feet right in the middle of his 40-acre section, where he’d had poor luck getting anything to grow. This time, however, he shipped soil samples to the Whitetail Institute for analysis.

The results showed he needed to apply lime and fertilizer before putting down a mix of seeds. As a final inducement, he also created a mineral lick near the plot.

By early summer, the plot was off and running, showing good growth. In early June, Ron identified three different stand sites surrounding the field that would allow him to bowhunt during various winds.

One was a place to set a popup blind, a second was perfect for a climbing stand, and the third was for a 20-foot-high ladder stand. He’d received a new infrared trail camera for Christmas that year, too, and he set it up to monitor the plot.

Almost immediately, he started getting good photos of deer, including the big 10-pointer.

“I told only a few people of the existence of the buck: my wife, of course, my brother Dan, and my friend Joe. This was not a secret to be shared freely,” Ron said.

The photos continued throughout the summer, and Ron was excited about the rapidly approaching bow opener.

The 2008 Wisconsin season began on Sept. 13, but it was a really dismal day with almost continuous rain.

“After hunting all weekend, I saw only one deer, and that happened when I was changing batteries in the trail camera Sunday. I was dejected, but looking forward to the next weekend even as I drove home,” Ron said.

On Sept. 20, he chose to sit in the ladder stand from dawn ’til dusk.

If You Can Lead a Buck to Eat“I left the cabin about 5:00 in the morning, planning to spend the whole day in the stand. I even packed a lunch,” he said. “I was there well before 6:00 and sat through the afternoon without seeing a single deer. Then, about an hour before closing, I heard deer walking in the woods behind me.

“The wind was blowing right to them, and I figured I would get busted. But I soon heard antlers brushing the branches of saplings and still coming on toward the food plot,” he continued.

“I grabbed my bow and got ready as the excitement began to build. I suddenly saw a doe standing directly below me and looking into the food plot. I was hoping the big 10-pointer had drawn the doe’s attention away from me,” Ron said.

Within minutes, the deer he’d been hearing made its way to the edge of the food plot. There was no doubt in Ron’s mind, this was it, the moment of truth … hunter and hunted finally in the same place at the same time.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘This is really going to happen,’” Ron said. “My friend, Joe, and I have joked about not dropping the ball when that moment presents itself. This was that moment, and I was thinking, ‘Don’t drop the ball.’”

The buck was at 30 yards and quartering away as it fed out into the plot.

“It was presenting a perfect shot except for the small branch that blocked the heart-lung area, but not for long. As it moved beyond the branch, I settled my pin on its chest, looked at the rack one more time, and then triggered the release. I knew the shot was perfect the moment the arrow disappeared in the deer,” Ron said.

The buck headed for the woods. Several seconds later, the excited hunter heard a telltale crash as the buck lost its fight with gravity. The doe was still feeding as though nothing had happened.

“I stayed in my stand for 20 very long minutes, and then I just had to get down. As I started descending the ladder, the doe and another small buck that had appeared in the food plot made a dash for the woods. I went straight to the place where the buck had been and quickly found my arrow, which was covered in blood … unlike the ground. So I walked the path the buck had taken, finding only small spots here and there,” he continued.

“Just a few yards into my search, however, I saw antlers sticking up from the brush ahead of me.

“It was a quiet walk back to the cabin, because I was out there by myself and had no one to share the joy with,” Ron said. “When I got back to the cabin, I called several people to share the news, including Rebecca, Dan and Joe. They were all excited to hear my story. It had been a three-year hunt that ended well!”

When looking at the sheds found in 2005, it appears that the buck was probably 3 1/2 years old at the time.

“It’s very rewarding to have so much hard work pay off in the end with a really great trophy,” Ron added.

Hunter: Ron Macak
Official Score: 165 1/8
Composite Score: 182 4/8
Compound Bow

— Photos Courtesy of Ron Macak

This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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