One of the best blacktail hunts I ever had was the buck I took last year, in 2016. I had been watching this buck for 4 years. We had trail camera pictures of him. We had gotten to know this buck so well that we had named him Tall Four, because he was a 4x4 buck.
The first pictures we had of him on the first year, he had a spindly 4x4 rack and wasn’t anything special because he was very young. But one of the characteristics of his rack that enabled us to keep up with him every year was the double eye guards he had on both sides of his rack. On the second year, on the left side of his rack on one of the eye guards, he had an antler that looked like the blade of a knife. The only problem we had with Tall Four was we never had pictures of him or saw him during daylight hours. The third year he was a nicer 4x4, but halfway through the rut he broke off one side of his rack. He never came by during daylight hours, although we had nighttime trail camera pictures of him. In 2016, he was a really fine buck and started showing up on our trail cameras - often with his tongue stuck out like he was making fun of us.
On November 30, 2016, the season was halfway over. I was in my tree stand where I had been sitting since before daylight. My brother, Ryan, and his wife, Shannon, were in a tree stand about 500 yards from my tree stand. We were hunting on a weekday during school. Ryan had agreed that he would leave the stand early and go to school to pick up all of our children. He’d already harvested the only buck he could take for the year.
Ryan left Shannon in their stand. He was hoping she would take a deer, because this was one of her first blacktail hunts. Five minutes after Ryan left, Shannon and I texted each other back and forth while we were in our tree stands. The hunt had been boring for both of us, since we had not seen any deer. I caught movement in the brush when I looked up from my cell phone. All of a sudden that cell phone felt as big as my truck, because I could not get the cell phone quickly inside my pocket to grab my bow. But I finally did.
I really hadn’t paid attention to how big the buck was. I had learned over the years that the only thing I needed to focus on to take an animal was to determine which openings that animal might walk through, and where I wanted to place the shot. Once this blacktail buck stepped out into an opening, I knew I didn’t have a great shot angle. However, I had a few seconds to look at him, and I thought, “Oh, my gosh! He has the bladed antler on the left side of his rack.”
As he turned around, I saw the two double eye guards, and then I thought, “Oh my goodness. God just smiled on me.” I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing this buck during daylight, and then I got nervous.
The blacktail buck was about 20 yards away when I drew and used my top pin for my front sight. I made a good shot. The buck took the arrow and ran about 20 yards before he fell over. The first thing I did before I climbed out of the tree was to text my brother Ryan, “You need to hurry and pick up the kids! I’m going to need some help out here.”
I got down out of my stand, went to the buck and sent Ryan another text with a photo of my downed buck that asked, “Do you remember this guy?”
Ryan immediately called me and said, “I can't believe you took that deer! I’ll bring the kids with me.”
I texted my sister-in-law Shannon, and she came over to my stand. We shot some cool pictures of the deer and took some video. When the kids got out there, we took pictures with them and my deer, too.