“Some Missouri deer hunters have all the luck! Everywhere they go big bucks seem to follow them around. Why is it that none of the big ones ever come my way?”
If you’ve ever felt that way, or asked yourself why others seem to kill big deer when you can’t even see one, maybe the stories that follow will hold some clues for you.
Sure, luck plays a part in any hunting adventure, but as every Boy Scout knows, a fellow has to be prepared. You must be ready when the chance to take a big one presents itself.
Here’s how some of our fellow Missourians got the chance at a big buck last fall and how they were prepared to take action.
Jim Biggs of Versailles, MO owns and lives on a 20-acre tract of land in Morgan County. He and his wife Laura love to hunt deer on their mini-farm. Their property is about a 50/50 mix of timber/field habitat with some thick brush and a creek running through it. Jim’s stand sits atop a steep ridge about 300 yards from their house. He built Laura a more convenient stand just 75 yards away from their home.
The husband/wife team spent almost every day deer hunting during the 2009 firearms deer season. Laura shot a nice 10-pointer on opening day but didn’t get a fatal shot into it. The buck ran down to where her uncle was hunting and he finished it off and tagged it.
The season was winding down with the pair not seeing anything other than some does and a small 6-pointer. They were holding out for something bigger. However, not only was the season running out, but also their gumption to get out in the deer woods and finish the season.
On Nov. 21, the second Saturday of the firearms season, Jim woke up before daylight in anticipation of the morning’s hunt. He woke Laura and told her it was time to get up for another day of deer hunting. But she was just too tired to go out and sit in a stand again.
Laura’s decision not to go that morning may have been the luckiest moment of Jim’s deer-hunting career. He decided he too was tired and really didn’t want to climb the steep hillside to his stand, and so he opted to hunt his wife’s tree stand close to the couple’s house.
Jim climbed into the stand about half an hour before light and decided to take a nap. His nap lasted longer than he anticipated and he was awakened by the sound of a deer blowing at him at about 7:30.
Jim groggily opened his eyes and saw a big buck behind some brush about 40 yards away. He shouldered his Marlin .30/30 and shot. The buck walked off through the brush, jumped a fence and disappeared.
Jim went back to the house and waited for about 1 1/2 hours and he and Laura went back to the woods to look for the big buck. Jim found a clump of hair where he’d hit the deer but couldn’t see blood because he is color blind. His faithful hunting companion and wife Laura found a crimson red blood trail about 20 yards from the shot site. They followed it to the fence and about 30 yards farther they found the huge-bodied 12-pointer.
Neighbors told Jim that they had seen the buck before and captured it on trail cameras earlier in the year. Biggs’ Morgan County monster green scored right at 170 inches as a B&C typical. It’s a beautifully typical 10-pointer with a kicker off each of its G-3s.
Forty-seven-year-old Rusty MacCash of Rolla has been deer hunting since he was 10 years old. For the past 11 years, Rusty and a group of close friends have been hunting 1,500 acres of private land in Phelps County.
On Friday, Nov. 20, Rusty left work early to get back to the woods as he had yet to kill a deer during firearms season. He’d just arrived at his hunting property when he got a call on his cell phone. It was his father-in-law, Tony, a retired highway patrolman who had never hunted deer in his life. Tony informed Rusty that he was going to join him for the afternoon’s hunt. Rusty reluctantly agreed. Tony arrived at camp a short while later with a red shirt and red cap on and armed with a .357 revolver to hunt deer.
“We had to give him an orange vest and cap and decide where he was going to hunt,” Rusty laughed. “I thought that this was going to be a real fiasco.”
Little did Rusty know at the time, but his father-in-law’s surprise visit turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Rusty decided that he and his friend Donnie would put Tony not far behind the farmhouse in a little brushy hollow while they went around and tried to push a doe out for him to shoot. Donnie took the low side and Rusty took the high side. That suited Rusty just fine because he likes to slip through the woods and still-hunt for deer most of the time.
When Rusty got to the top of the hill at about 3:30, he sat down and rested for a while. At about 4:30 he heard a shot below him and assumed Tony had killed a doe. He knew he had about a 1-mile hike back to camp and decided he’d better start walking. Just as he began slipping through the woods, Rusty spotted a deer sneaking through the bottom below him and about 75 yards away.
Rusty knew it was a nice buck and put the scope of his Remington pump-action .30/06 in an opening in the timber. When the buck stepped into the shooting lane Rusty pulled the trigger. The deer dropped in its tracks and the excited hunter made his way down the steep hill to his trophy.
When Rusty got down to the buck and saw just how big it was, he let out a loud whoop. The taxidermist rough scored the 15-pointer at 181 5/8 inches before deductions.
Thirty-three-year-old Chris Emily of St. Louis has been deer hunting since he was 6, and took his first deer at the age of 10. On the eve of Halloween last year, Chris dressed up like a bowhunter and headed to his tree stand in Scotland County. Of course he wasn’t trick-or-treating but he was dressed in camouflage and did get a big treat for his efforts.
On Oct. 31, 2009, Chris Emily, his dad Don, and their good friend Don Umphress were bowhunting the 325-acre Scotland County lease where they have been chasing whitetails for the past six years. The habitat is mostly open on the lease with approximately 200 acres of agricultural fields, lots of treeline funnels and a 10-acre cedar thicket smack dab in the middle of the property. The surrounding properties are mostly all timber.
After seeing a good 8-pointer just before it was light enough to shoot on the morning of Halloween, Chris was anxious to get back into his stand that afternoon. He climbed up into his Gorilla lock-on at about 2:15.
After a 20 minute pause following a rattle-and-grunt sequence on his Primos call, Chris saw some does being harassed by a spike buck as they were moving up to the nearby cornfield. He decided to give another rattle/grunt sequence, and 5 minutes later he spotted a deer about 120 yards away. By now it was nearly 3:30. After looking at the deer through binoculars, Chris could see the buck was a real good one and so he started getting anxious.
Chris decided to grunt a few times and the buck stopped and looked downhill, right in his direction. Now the bowhunter was really getting excited.
“I gave him one more grunt and he started waking right to me,” Chris recalled. “Then the walk turned into a run right down the hill to me. It took all I could do to calm myself down.”
The buck got within 60 yards but a deep creek/ditch between the buck and the hunter kept it from getting closer. By that time Chris was shaking hard and that’s when he spotted something out the corner of his eye. It was the giant buck just 40 yards away on the right side of the creek!
Chris ranged the buck at 43 yards and drew back his Fred Bear TRX-32 and released his arrow tipped with a 2-inch-wide Rage broadhead. He watched as the white nock disappeared into the buck and immediately saw blood spurting out its side.
The buck disappeared over a knoll and about 30 minutes later, Chris climbed down and found a heavy blood trail. He followed it a little over 100 yards to his dream buck. The huge 16-pointer later netted 172 1/8 inches as a non-typical trophy!
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