Alan Benton | Mossy Oak ProStaff
The biggest buck I’ve taken with my rifle scored 143 inches. It was a simple hunt. I was hunting a food plot during the pre-rut and climbed up in my stand. Then does came out into the field. A big buck walked up to the does in the food plot. I didn’t have any pictures of this buck; I just got lucky.
To take that nice buck, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I don’t mind getting lucky, but I really enjoy taking a buck that I’ve struggled to find and to take. I feel I’ve accomplished something if I have to work hard to take a larger buck. When you know you’ve planted the right food for the deer, you’ve watched them grow for 2-3 years, and you understand that you can’t hunt the stand you want to hunt due to having a wrong wind, then you feel bad when the next time you check your trail cameras you see that buck was within easy bow range on the day you couldn’t hunt him due to bad wind. Once a buck beats me like that, I feel more of a sense of accomplishment when I finally take that buck than I do if I’m just lucky taking a buck.
Gun season started on October 21, 2017. The last week in October, my dad took Captain Hook, a buck that had a brow tine that went straight up before making a 90-degree angle, so that his brow tine looked like a hook. That’s how he got his name.
We’d been watching Captain Hook throughout the early bow season in 2017, but when that buck lost his velvet, he broke the hook off the end of his brow tine. The first week of the 2017 gun season, we put my dad where we’d been seeing this buck, and he took the buck.
Captain Hook had been coming during daylight hours more frequently each day. As the rut approached, Captain Hook began appearing on green fields at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and often an hour before dark in the afternoons. Before the rut started, our section of Georgia received a little cooler weather. I think the combination of the cool weather and the timing of the rut helped put Captain Hook in front of my dad’s rifle.
Later in October, I passed up a good buck that I’d have been proud to shoot. He was what we call a good picture buck. However, I aged him at only 3-1/2 years old. I knew if he survived to 4 years old, he’d be a really nice buck. We spotted numbers of bucks during early bow season that we didn’t take. We realized those bucks would be much bigger next year. I’m often asked, “Aren’t you afraid that if you let a nice buck walk to get another year of age on him that a hunter on a neighboring property may take him?”
Every time a nice buck gets out of my sight, I do worry about someone else taking him. But one thing I know for sure, if I don’t shoot that buck, I know he didn’t die that day. However, if I shoot him, then I know he’s dead and doesn’t have a chance of putting on more antlers and more body weight.
I do realize that some of the deer I let pass are harvested by my neighbors. Here’s how I look at that – that hunter on a neighboring property bought a hunting license just as I did. Those deer are not my deer – I don’t own them. Just because I don’t harvest a certain size of buck doesn’t mean that I won’t harvest a buck that one of my neighbors hasn’t taken, hoping that buck will get another year of growth.
I have been able to photograph and watch one buck for 6 years. I haven’t taken that buck due to my not having had a chance to take him. I know for certain that none of my neighbors have taken that buck either. Some of the first photos I got of this buck he was an 18-inch wide, 4-point. The following year he had 5 points, and the next year he had 7 points. Then his antler development started going down, and the last year I spotted him, he was a 6-point, about 22 inches wide with 6-inch bases, but very small points. He never did have very long tines, and that’s probably why he’s survived so long.
Selecting the Right Camo:
If I’m hunting out of a ground blind, I wear Mossy Oak’s Eclipse. In swampy bottoms while sitting against big oak trees, I use Original Bottomland. During early bow season when green is on the trees, I like Obsession. I consider Mossy Oak Break-Up Country my best all-around pattern.
I have every pattern Mossy Oak makes, and I think about the pattern I’ll use once I decide where I’ll hunt that day. I still wear some throw-back patterns that you can get only at the Mossy Oak Store. I still like Greenleaf and the original Treestand patterns. All the Mossy Oak patterns work anywhere you hunt. By following this pattern of matching my Mossy Oak camo to where I’m hunting, and the time I’m hunting, I believe that gives me an edge when I’m hunting.
Forty-one-year-old Alan Benton of McDonough, Georgia, is a 9-year veteran of the Mossy Oak ProStaff.
“Mossy Oak is more than a camo pattern. Mossy Oak is a lifestyle with which I associate,” said Benton. “I like what Mossy Oak represents. Toxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak, and his family are hometown people. I like the conservation organizations that Mossy Oak is a part of and supports and the charitable contributions the company makes to help people and wildlife. I feel if I’m going to put my time, effort and money into hunting, I need to be wearing the best camouflage on the market, and I believe Mossy Oak is that camouflage.”