November 4th, Matt and I decided to hunt out of the same tree for filming purposes. As we headed to our area, we couldn't decide where to sit. The fact that the sky was turning blue pushed us to our closest stand. The tree is pretty small in diameter, so Matt hooked his climber up and went as high as he could, I followed suit and had mine directly below his where I could stand and not hit his foot platform. This only put me 10 feet off the ground. I had set out 3 scent canisters with doe estrous hoping to draw in a buck looking for an early doe. The wind was out of the northwest and the temperature was around 38 degrees.
Shortly after shooting light, I saw movement to our south. I couldn't tell if it was a doe or a buck, so I grunted. Since Matt had already taken a doe during muzzleloader season, I handed him the camera. Neither of us could spot the deer and we spent 20 minutes watching the area for movement. Eventually, we determined the deer had moved off and we started talking. Typically, in this stand, the deer movement happens around 9am, and with the time change, we expected 8am to be the time for deer to move through.
At 7:30, I use my doe bleat. 5 minutes later, a small 8 point came in. Neither of us were going to shoot a smaller buck this year, so we watched as he fed through at 10 yards. The buck walked directly under a scent canister without so much as lifting his head to check it. As he moved off to the south, it seemed as though he got wind of the scent and milled around a bit, but continued to work off to the south. 5 minutes after he disappeared, I bleated 3 times. Matt and I were talking when I looked to the west. There, at 40 yards, was a large buck looking directly at us. I told Matt to not move and get the video camera going, there's a big buck behind him. He whips his head around and sees the buck. Matt tells me he's not filming, but taking a shot with his bow. I replied, "whoever gets the shot first, takes it." The buck works his way through the brush from the west to the southwest, circling our stand. As he's behind a large brush pile, I draw. Matt draws his bow as the buck begins to move again. The buck spots the movement and stops, staring at our tree. What felt like an eternity passed before he continues down the trail. I had previously ranged this shooting lane at 35 yards as it's the same spot I missed a doe 2 weeks prior. I managed to keep my composure, not giving in to buck fever as the buck emerged in the shooting lane. I was lined up, following the buck with my pins on his chest as he walked through the shooting lane. The only thing I forgot was to bleat at him to get him to stop. My brain had quit functioning after I reached full draw. Matt let's out a bleat which snaps me back into reality and the buck stops. My 30 yard pin was high on his chest with the 40 pin near the bottom of his heart. When the buck stopped, I squeezed my release and watch the arrow in take off in slow motion. Life was now playing frame by frame. The arch of the arrow is on target when the sound every bow hunter loves, breaks the silence. THWACK. The fletchings disappear into his chest and he tears off into the thick stuff. I hear Matt say some colorful words about me shooting so quickly as we listen to the buck blazing a trial. "You literally shot him out from underneath me" he says. He circled back to our west, 20 yards further out then where we had originally seen him and his legs started to give out, as did mine. He gets back up, makes two more lunges to the west, and crashes. I lose my composure and set my bow down, getting a firm grip on the stand and what just happened.
A few minutes pass with my gaze set intently on the buck. Matt and I trade verbal jabs and enjoy the moment of success. Successfully killing a large buck with your best friend there to witness it only added to the experience. My composure returns and I lower my bow. After I get my climber removed from the base of the tree, Matt tosses me the video camera. We wait about 15 minutes before going to retrieve my arrow. We find it under a bed of leaves, stained completely red. We look for a blood trial for several minutes, but to no avail. I'm scratching my head as I knew it was a good shot, the arrow is covered in blood, but no trail. We trail deer even when we see them crash to maintain our tracking skills. Not wanting to bust up the area with our scent any more, we go back to our stands and I grab my bow to be safe. As we approach the fallen buck, the dark antlers emerge from the brush and it's apparent he's expired. I set my bow down and grab my trophy. All the hard work before the season to scout, clear stand locations, and go further than the other hunters on public land have culminated into this moment. We guess the buck at 3 1/2 years old and a broken off G3 tine on his right side makes him a large 7 point. He had the remains of a ravaged tree in the base of his antlers and his tarsals were starting to darken. The only blood around was at his mouth. We drag him two hundred yards and gut him. There is a perfect broadhead cut through his left lung, with the right lung decimated. Due to his body size and a slightly high shot, all the blood was held within his chest cavity instead of spilling from the entry and exit wounds. After an extremely long drag, we get him to the truck and make our way to Matt's dad's house to weigh him. Even gutted, he weighed 150 pounds, which is huge for this area of Central Oklahoma. The inside spread of his rack is 14 5/8" with an outside spread of 17".
I decided to attempt my own Euro mount of the skull and will have a "how to" writeup posted once completed.