Leaving my November playground in Nebraska wasn't easy, but I'd agreed to join my pastor, Shane Warren, and his friend, Ken Roark, in Ohio. So after six days of bowhunting the Cornhusker State, I boarded a plane in Lincoln and flew to Columbus.
Soon after arriving, I discovered I'd be hunting public land, and I immediately regretted leaving Nebraska. My only experience with public ground was in my home state of Louisiana, where the competition for good spots is tremendous.
Don't get me wrong. Some of the largest deer harvested in Louisiana come off public tracts, but they're extremely difficult to hunt.
Five of us were in Ohio. The others were Shane, Ken, Ray Melancon and Earl Foster.
The first place we hunted wasn't so good. After the second trip in there, I texted my buddy, Donny, who'd driven my truck back to Louisiana from Nebraska, and said, "Man, I'm in a gar hole." He told me to hang in there.
At least everyone else was disappointed, which is why we moved to another section.
Following Ken's advice and directions, I found a nice spot where I could see a long way and observe deer. The first evening in the new setup, I saw 12 bucks and several does. By sunset, I'd already picked another tree that would put me closer to all the action I'd observed.
The next morning, Nov. 10, passed slowly until about 8:00, when a nice 140-inch 10-pointer walked past my stand. I stopped the buck and took a 35-yard shot, but I didn't see all the little stickups between us. The arrow deflected and grazed the buck's chest, leaving me with only a nice little clump of hair on the ground.
As I waited for my friends to finish their hunt, nature called. I walked to the ridge behind me, hoping the wind would blow in the same direction all day and not affect my evening hunt.
The pastor was scheduled to preach that evening and couldn't hunt. The rest of us were in our stands by 3:00. An hour later, it was as if someone opened the gate to the rutting rodeo. Bucks chased does all around me, and it got better as the shadows lengthened.
At one point, a doe started blowing about 80 yards to my left. She ran off, but then another did the same thing 10 minutes later. I texted Ray, who was hunting nearby: "Man, these deer can't see or smell me. I think somebody is trying to sabotage my hunt. If it happens again, I'm going to check it out."
But I never got the chance. I was wrong anyway.
Despite the two snorting does, bucks just kept popping up everywhere. To my left was a 130-inch 10-pointer; to my right, another. I grabbed my bow and slowly stood. The two bucks began to face off and circle one another 20 yards from me. I had no shot at either. About that time, a lone doe walked straight up to my tree and started sniffing.
I was already shaking when I heard a deep grunt - deeper than any I'd ever heard. A monster buck stepped out of the brush about 80 yards to my left. It must've been what those earlier does had winded. It walked straight to the ridge behind me - yes, THAT one - and then turned to descend it.
I was about to have an open 40-yard shot, but I couldn't turn around because the sniffing doe was trying her best to bust me. I got a sick feeling when the buck reached the spot where I'd answered nature's call that morning. It stopped, turned and looked at the doe under my stand, and then it continued straight toward her. She saw it advancing and left, and that's when I almost said aloud, "This is really gonna happen!"
When the buck was at five yards, it lowered its head. At that point, instinct overcame my shaking limbs and body. I drew my Matthews Switchback and released the arrow, which I knew immediately had found its mark. After being smacked, the buck took off and I got a real good look at its antlers. As I melted into my seat, I could not believe what had just taken place.
I texted my wife and Ray: "I just shot a giant!"
Ray: "How big?"
Me: "At least 160 inches."
Shawn (my wife): "Is it down?"
Me: "Yes, I hear it thrashing on the ground."
Her: "I will pray that you find it."
I sat there until after dark. When Ray arrived, we began tracking the buck. After covering about 40 yards, we found the arrow, the entire length of which was covered in blood. The next 30 yards, however, was a bit scary. The drops got smaller and harder to find, but then we saw the buck.
Ray and I were so stunned at its size, we almost fell over backwards. We couldn't believe how big that dude's antlers were.
Moments later, Earl showed up to join us in the celebration. We sat there for 20 minutes in absolute awe of this beautiful creature that God had made for me. We began calling and sending photographs to friends and loved ones.
Anyone who checked out my Facebook page the following day saw a picture of me and my buck, along with the simple message: "Thank you, God."
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