Editor’s Note: Fifty-one year old Joe Shults of Newport, Tennessee, is a member of the PSE Pro Staff and a member of the Drury Outdoors “Dream Season: The Journey” TV show. When Shults was out of work due to a factory closing, he hunted and fished often. He realized there wasn’t a sporting-goods store for miles from his home, so he opened one. Shults explains, “I've been wearing Mossy Oak since 1990.”
Mossy Oak camouflage helped me take the biggest deer I'd ever taken. I was hunting in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, during the second rut. A standing soybean field was on one side of a small strip of woods 50-yards wide, and on the other side of the woods was a thick cover bedding area. We thought that the soybean field was probably the only food source still available for the deer during the late season. We knew for a fact that the does had to be feeding on those soybeans at that time of the year. We were hoping that one of those does would be coming into estrus during this second rut period and would drag a buck in front of us.
We were set-up in this little strip of timber about 20-yards away from the soybean field. We saw a few does going into the field in the afternoon, and I heard a deer grunt. I picked up my MAD grunt tube and grunted two or three times. Just as I dropped the grunt tube to my chest, I spotted a huge buck coming toward our tree stand - all bristled-up and looking for a fight. The man who owned the property, the fellow who ran the trail cameras for the property owner nor I ever had seen or had any trail-camera pictures of him. The buck continued to walk toward us, veered to the left and raked his antlers up and down a young cedar tree. He was still all bristled-up and searching for the buck (me) that had been grunting to him. For a long time, he looked out into that timber, studied the soybean field, watched the bedding area and looked up at us three different times.
We were hunting from a relatively small tree. We had set-up in that tree, because we thought it was in the right place to take a buck. Every time that buck looked at us, we froze like granite statues out in a park. He looked at us hard for a long time. If he could’ve identified us as a hunter and a cameraman, I'm convinced we would’ve gotten busted, and the deer would have run off. But finally, when the big buck didn’t spot or hear the buck he thought was grunting, he turned to walk away, putting him broadside to me at 18 yards. At that time, I was shooting a Hoyt bow with an A/C/C arrow with a 90 grain Muzzy broadhead. The buck had 17 scorable points and gross scored 206-5/8 - the biggest buck I'd ever taken.
Tomorrow: When a Big Buck Is Close, Watch His Eyes