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Three years ago began the story of the deer I harvest yesterday called Scoop.  He first showed up on my trail cams in the summer of 2017.  In early August my neighbor and I snuck out into the standing beans to glass for shooters about a mile away from my farm.  Little did we know that Scoop would come out and walk within 40 yards of us in those beans.  It was an awesome encounter and it’s the night he got his name due to his tines curling inward.  He was approximately a 120-130 inch 8 at the time and I believed him to be a 3 year old.  Because of his age, I made the decision to put him off limits during the 2017 season.  Even though scoop spent considerable time on my property that year all the pictures were at night and he was never seen from the stand by myself or the neighbors.  My neighbor was fortunate enough to pick up one of his sheds right across the road from my farm that winter so we confirmed he has lived.

In 2018,  there was plenty of big anticipation to see what Scoop looked like in the neighborhood.  He didn’t disappoint blossoming into a beautiful 9 that we believed to be in the mid 140’s and 4.5 years old.  2018 also happened to be the year I implemented a tremendous amount of habitat work in my farm.  Due to all the work happening through November of that year, Scoop was never seen or photographed on my farm although he lived right across the road.  2018 was another year where nobody saw him from the stand although he did show up daylight on a few cameras for the neighbors from time to time.  Once the season ended, we did pick up Scoop traveling over to my property after he shed his antlers to feed in my plots.  This gave my hope that 2019 would lead to a return to my farm.

As the summer of 2019 progressed, we were able to pick Scoop back up in the same area where we glassed him in 2017.  He didn’t appear to grow much, but as a minimum 5.5 year old deer pushing 150 he was the top target.  I had already begun setting the plan for how to kill him if he came back to me that year and on October 5th that became a reality with his return.  From the 5th until late October, he was intermittent on my cameras only showing up about 5 times.  Little did that when I pulled cards on October 24th that a major shift had just happened in Scoop.  While I was busy getting ready for my Illinois trip and hunting another deer on another farm, Scoop would make my farm home.

I made a conscious decision before leaving for Illinois on November 2nd to not check my caverns because I didn’t want any distractions thinking about home while on my trip.  When I returned on November 6th I jumped straight into a stand.  It was an awesome sit with plenty of action but no Scoop.  I proceeded to check my camera after dark and I was floored with the results.  Scoop was everywhere and daylight active!!

 

From November 6th through the 11th I hunted him everyday without a sighting yet I knew I was close.  On the morning of November 12th that all changed.  I pulled open the blinds and to my surprise he was bedded 150 yards behind the house with a doe!  This was the first in person sighting of this deer in two years and here he is chilling out 150 outside my window!  I hunted him that evening and the next day to no avail.  The night of the 13th I pulled cameras and found that Scoop has moved to the back of my property upon dropping that doe midday on the 12th.  
 

With the gun opener fast approaching on the 16th I was forced into a very tough decision.  As many of you know, I’m a diehard bowhunter.  I wanted nothing more than to arrow this buck, but due to his daylight behavior it was painfully obvious that he likely wouldn’t survive more than a day if he left my property after Friday.  The decision was two fold, do I hunt him on the 15th and risk pushing him elsewhere and do I put the bow down and pick up a gun?  I made the decision to let the property sit the day before the gun opener and I was also going to use a firearm Saturday morning.  I had a very good idea where I felt he would be as his core area was literally 10 acres on me.  I also asked my dad to come up and hunt where he was last seen as well.   The plan was set!

Saturday morning arrived with temps in the low 20’s and an extremely heavy frost on the ground which made it sound like a bull in a china shop walking in.  My dad and I got to the stands and were set 90 minutes before legal shooting light.  I felt it was imperative to get in ahead of the neighbors and let them move deer to us in case he wasn’t already here.  As light first cracked, the ominous sounds of gun shots from neighbors started ringing out.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he had already caught led.  About 7:30 two does came and bedded down right where I expected Scoop to come from.  Then about 8:00 AM one of my 3 year olds comes out into the clover plot staring South.  Then a big crash happens and a doe comes flying through the swamp being tailed by another 8 and nearly runs over top of the 3 year old 9.  This was very exciting because I had a very hot doe running around is Scoop’s core area being tailed by two inferior bucks as compared to him.  I felt that if he was anywhere close, he would not tolerate this intrusion in his core area.  Around 8:20 the 3 year old came back over to check the two does I had bedded by me and one appeared to be in estrous!  Talk about getting lucky to have two does in jest this close to my stand.  The nine proceeds to bump the doe further to the north out of site around 8:30.  About 10 minutes later I see a doe crest the hill coming back to me.  Then through the brush I see a rack.  It’s instantaneous recognition, it’s Scoop and he’s here!!!!  Even though he’s at 80 yards I don’t have a shot because he’s in an area where I did a ton of TSI work.  For 10 minutes I’m forced to watch him move only 10 yards while keeping an intentful eye on my shooting house through the thick brush.  At this point I know that I had to walk by him into the stand this morning and I’m terrified that the gig will be up at any moment.  The entire time I’m searching for any hole that I feel I can get a bullet through and it just isn’t  happening.  Then he slowly starts to turn and quarter towards me with an opening only a few steps away.   He pauses with just his head in the opening and looks directly at the shooting house as if his 6th sense was kicking in.   Then he takes that fateful step and looks away.  I put the crosshairs right on the front shoulder and touched off the Tikka.  Scoop buckled up but didn’t go down.  I’m also partially dazed from the .300 win mag scope connecting with my forehead in grand fashion.  As I jack another shell in, I can’t believe I just shot this deer straight through his shoulder and he didn’t drop. Next thing I know he’s gone, but I believe I hear a crash.  As I sit back in my chair, I’m replaying everything in my mind.  What happened? Why didn’t he go down from that shot, did I hit him bad?  Everything felt great, but I’m still a little unsure.  I give him about 20 minutes and I couldn’t take anymore, I had to go check.  I ease up to where I last saw him looking into the woods.  I only get about 10 steps in and see his rack laying on the ground!!!

As I approached him, I’m in awe of the history I’ve had with this animal.  Not only was there three years of personal history, but he’s the first buck I’ve shot off my farm since we bought it in 2016.  All the hard work, the man hours, the deer passed, the time away from my family chasing these majestic animals.  I think about how proud my grandfather would be and the fact it get to share this moment with my dad.  As I lay my hand on Scoop’s forehead and thank him, I’m overcome with emotion.  While I’m extremely grateful to harvest this animal, I’m also sad to see him go.  So while this chapter closes on what is by far my most memorable deer,  I can’t help but wonder to the future of who will be the buck that tries to take his place on my farm.....

 

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I still have my urban tag left which allows me to hunt certain properties until January 31st. I do have a few candidates in mind for that tag along with a new property I just picked up this year so we will se what happens.  I likely will not do much more hunting until trail cameras show my targets are killable.  Probably get the kiddos out a few times to enjoy nature along with a few friends.

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You guys are on a role!  MCH bags potentially his best with a bow, NS whitetail puts a goodun down, and Pat bags his 1st trophy on his own place after documenting his growth into full maturity.  Assume job guys...Congratulations!!!  Pat...that's a memory that will last a life time.

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Congratulations to Kevin and Lewis. 
Awesome public land deer.  Agree with Pat, those dark antlers are nice, do you see that much in your area?


Not quite as dark as these but I see more dark horns than we do “white”.

The buck ended up scoring 146 5/8 which is my new personal best bow kill. Couldn’t be happier with this buck. Just dropped him off at the taxidermist.


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