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A Buck Named Giant

By Paul Askew

2013 was a year of successes and failures and was bitter sweet in a sense. Although I did harvest a buck on my Willamette tag, the area I was hunting did not hold the big bucks that public land opportunities in the late season for my general season tag may provide. 2013 taught me a few hard lessons that I promised too not repeat.
2013 haunted me in many ways. I though to my self that I should have moved cameras more, but I was getting enough photos of bucks to fool myself into thinking that the weather would come and they would show in daylight. That was mistake number one. The weather never came until after the season was over. Mistake number two, I did not scout out bedding areas or do my best to hone into the bucks core areas. Mistake number three, I did not follow my gut and this is what hurt the most.

After spending numerous all day sits in the blind figuring today could be the day rather than getting out and scouting, I was relying on hope and chance based on the few daytime photos I had of a particular buck I call Mr. Big. Mr. Big was regular into my set and came to my attractants, but he did not come during shooting light. I believe had I moved my set around and employed more trail cams closer to bedding areas, I would have had a better shot at Mr. Big.

I was dead set on a good 2014 season. I promised my self to get my boots on the ground more and scout harder. If I only had nocturnal photos of bucks into the second week of November, I would move cameras until I had daytime photos. I would find a buck’s core area by flooding the area with trail cameras until I felt I had honed in on his bedroom. If by opening day, I did not have a buck showing a solid routine, I would utilize my time by continuing to scout rather than hunt. After talking to a very successful Blacktail hunter that gave me some of his secrets, I headed to the woods in May and June like I had for the past decade. This year however, I was not going in to glass clear cuts to find the bucks. Instead, I went in with trail cameras in hand and placed them on heavy trails. The goal was simple, get a good buck on camera and chances are he will still be here in October and November.

In late June, I went to pull a camera and sure enough, I had a nice buck that looked like he was going to grow a nice set of antlers. I thought about the buck a lot over the next few months and when mid October hit, I was in the woods back to the area I got the good buck on cam. It didn’t take long to get some bucks on camera in the clear cuts, but the pictures were all nocturnal, so I started moving my cameras around. By the first week of November I had a solid buck on camera with regularity in a stand of young timber. The buck I named Giant was showing up primarily nocturnal, but he did show up enough during daylight in the morning and evenings to give me hope. About 10 days out from opening day, which was November 21st, 2014, the weather dropped into the 20’s for a 5 day stretch. This was the break I had been waiting for to happen.

De-foliage was accelerated. The last of the good browse was now turning to mush and the deer were on their feet searching for the last bit of good browse before going into their biological change from leafy greens to woody browse. The buck I had on camera was no different. He was coming in during daylight hours on a regular basis. He was not on my cameras daily, but he was on 3 or 4 times in a 1 week period following the freeze and was in on camera 2 days prior to opening day during daylight hours.

Things were falling into place. The early scouting paid off. The movement and back trailing to find the bucks core area paid off. And most of all, following my gut paid off. The only thing left to do was wait for the season to start and put in my time.

The buck named Giant was showing a pattern of 3 am to 9 am for the morning and anytime afternoon for evenings, so I opted to hunt a different blind where I had a good buck in on occasion, so I would hopefully not spook Giant by going in for a morning hunt. Opening morning found me in my secondary blind. It was over cast with light showers off and on. Overall, it was shaping up to be a good day for hunting blacktails in late season. My morning hunt in the blind was uneventful. However, the buck I had hoped would come in did decide to cross the logging road 40 yards in front of me while I was leaving the blind from my morning hunt. Of course my range finder was in my pack and I have made myself a promise to not shoot unless I range first. It was a short and exciting encounter and my spirits were high heading to the primary blind for the evening hunt.

I parked my truck, threw on my pack, walked the logging road for a jaunt, headed through a reprod patch, and into the young timber where my blind awaited. I got nestled into my blind, set my tripod up and placed my Canon camera on top then did a camera check. I situated my stool and checked clearances with my bow stretched out on my arm. I reminded my self to close my non dominant eye if presented with a shot, so I am forced to look through my peep if the shot is in low light. Everything was in place, now it was time to sit still and wait.

A light rain drenched the young timber and big water drops pounded on the blinds roof. It was around 3 pm when the rain took a break. I had been in blind since about 10:15 am. Whenever there is a break in the weather, I get a bit excited. I have had good luck after a rain stops. As I peered out the window of the blind overlooking the thick tangle of young timber, ferns, baby alders, and other flora, I caught movement about 35 yards out. I reached up and got my camera rolling. Before I knew it, the buck named Giant was standing 18 yards in front of me. I had the camera recording. After waiting for the right shot angle, I drew my bow, placed the top pin in the sweet spot, and dropped the string. I heard the crack of a solid shot, but with archery until you find the animal, there is always some doubt.

After sitting in the cold and then getting the heavy dose of adrenaline, I found my self feeling a bit shell shocked. I quickly reviewed the footage and the shot looked solid. Although the rain had stopped, it was still damp, and I didn’t know when it would start back up. I didn’t want to head after the buck too soon, so I went to check my trail camera to keep myself distracted and let the adrenaline dump fade away. Giant had been in this same morning, so I was glad I hunted the other blind. I started looking for blood near the point of impact and did not find any, so I just started to follow the bucks’ foot prints. 20 yards from impact, I found my arrow broken in half and it looked like good penetration. I was having a hard time following the track in the thick grass, so I combed the area for blood. Not finding any blood, I was started to get the ugly thoughts of a poor hit. It looked like the buck headed out of the timber and into the reprod patch that was still fairly open, so I decided to simply head the direction the buck went. After about 5 minutes of looking, I found my buck piled up against a big stump.

I was ecstatic to say the least. After a haunting 2013 season, this played out better than I could have ever expected. My biggest buck to date. He green scored 112 by my taxidermist, Tim Tuttle of Creative Taxidermy. By many seasoned bow hunters account, he is not a Giant, but to me he is a Giant. Being on public land and doing it myself in an area with lots of pressure, I could not have been happier. I called my wife and she drove out to meet me at the gate. We hiked in and I had her take a few photos. We did the gutless method and packed the meat, head, and hide out. The buck yielded 85 pounds boned out meat. This was by far my biggest bodied deer to date.

2014 was an amazing season and truly what dreams are made of.