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Evolution of a NJ P&Y buck
I was extremely blessed to take a very nice 1431/8" gross 9 point buck Friday night, October 5th. I am going to take my time and try and tell the story as best I can, with a few years of "buck history" so please bear with me it ends well. Most likely my best NJ buck to date after 34 years of bowhunting this state, or very darn close once I get the drying period and give Shug a visit.
This buck is extra special because of the guilt I was feeling for not sitting with my father in the hospital, as he is very close to end of life as I write this. But this buck was for him - the guy that got me into hunting and then I got him into bow hunting later in life and man did we have some fun together.
I watched this buck grow on my minerals and could see the split brow on June 19th, but he had a lot more growing to do. I was getting pics of him in velvet a week before September 8th opener in two different locations a few times a week, but no real pattern. He was either in my woods which was about to erupt in white oak acorns although they were already trickling down, and he more recently started to show in my favorite "green" area across street up on a very long hill which is extra lush this year as it rains every day in NJ this year - just like Seattle. I mow this area - it has an annual community scrape that was not opened "yet" this year so I did so the same day I harvested this buck. I made a 20" circle with my boot and peed in it. It's 25 yard shot from my stand - in fact in 2015 I shot a 6.5 year old buck named "Tripod" from same stand on that scrape. He walked on 3 legs and had screwy rack - but I digress.
The prior Sunday from my harvest date, I was in my woods 100 yards from my camera where I had most recently seen him at first shooting light, and I had this stand set up to get him as he goes to bed. My mother called at 6:40am, she needed help with dad, so I quickly got down and we got him to ER (he is in rehab center now, just hanging on but won't eat and is down to 110lbs). The next day Monday - checked that cam in morning and there he was - heading my way at 6:45 that Sunday morning while I was taking my gear off in the garage.
I was then visiting him in hospital that Monday, 5-7pm, and next day I checked my camera "up on the hill" 650 yards from the other camera, and he was there 5:30pm while I was sitting with Dad. The cat and mouse game continued....
So from Monday 1st until Friday the 5th, I had no more pictures of this buck. I work from home Fridays so am able to scout, check cams, get a quick hunt in morning, and also an afternoon hunt. Morning hunt in my woods was just a few doe. That afternoon I settled in my stand at 4pm "up on the hill" , ready for a 3+ hour sit. This stand is so effective in that unless the wind is ESE, SE, or SSE, you can hunt it and not get winded. I got in with a clean NE wind and by 5pm it went SE. I had some doe coming in and got winded for first time of the year. I was absolutely disgusted, aggravated and thinking I should not have even gone hunting and should be sitting with my dad. The wind didn't take long to go back to NE and it stayed that way, and deer started to show up - by 6:30 I had a 2.5 year old 8pt feeding by me but he looked very nervous but not because of me. I see him sensing something around 6:40pm and he looks back and there he is a huge bodied magnificent buck - I knew it was "him" but quickly glassed him to confirm the left side sticker coming of his brow. I am blessed to have never really had "buck fever" before the shot, although I always shake uncontrollably after the shot. This time however was different. I was shaking bad. I felt he was coming my way, so I hugged the tree to try and calm down and stop shaking. He went right for the scrape I made and put his nose in it. I could have shot him there at 25 yards broadside, but instead just picked up the bow and wanted something even closer as he was clearly going to angle in front of me probably around 15 yards. He continued and stopped broadside at exactly 22 yards and voices in my head said "a better shot is not guaranteed" so I put the pin in the crease and as I released he moved slightly and I was NOT HAPPY about the hit. It looked way to high, way too far back. However as he ran away - I could see blood shooting out both sides and he ran down a path I mow through a green jungle 75 yards from the shot, went around a bend, lost sight of him but instantly heard "the crash". My arrow went into a jungle so I let that go wanted to get on that blood trail while I still had daylight because where he crashed was a tangled mess. Very hard to find blood in high, wet green grass. I found some 70 yard away, but not great, I rounded the bend and lost the trail, and looking left, looking right, looking straight ahead - nothing. Panic started to kick in but I could "smell" him - he was a bit musky already apparently. I turned 180 degrees and there he was -right behind me! Oh what a feeling, I got tears in my eyes, and looked up and gave thanks. I may have even squealed like Stan Potts but if so I don't recall. This is exactly how I found him.
So now for the evolution / history part - will build up to the ending once again. 2017 - he was a nice buck in velvet - I figured absolutely 3.5, let him go see what happens. He was pretty much a regular, but I avoided him. I shot a really nice 9pt at my buddy's farm 9/29/2017 that scored about 125 and change, and could not hunt until permit bow end of October. Here he is in velvet - 2017, on the left, as a 7pt buck.
So while I was tagged out in October 2017, I let a good friend hunt my woods with his crossbow. He ended up shooting this buck in what I thought was the left elbow bone, although he swore he hit it good and we did track blood for several hundred yards. He vanished for 2 weeks and I feared the worst, but he showed up again and I could see the hole in left elbow. This buck didn't dodge a bullet - he dodged a bolt! The second pic in daytime - he is very healthy in November.
fast forward to 2018, with mild winter I started minerals early, and the bucks were responding. This one looked good in June - but I had no idea until recently it was same buck. I didn't get any pictures of this buck past June 19, until August....
Here is the finished product late August, next to a nice 10 I believe is also 4.5 and was running with the 7pt last year as a 3.5 year old 10. This is when I started thinking "is it the 7?" When I saw this guy in velvet, although I hate the words "target buck" - yeah, I had finally a target buck.
It was this 9/23 picture that made me really start thinking " I bet it's the 7pt from last season". Just look at the 2017 day pic for compare.
another "cat and mouse" pic - this time in my woods 9/28, the last pic was "up on the hill".
So getting back to the "hunt" on 10/5, here is another field pic, followed by some more shots, ending with what is always my favorite "rack on the rack" shot.
I now know how some of you have felt "divine" intervention at one time or another with a particular buck or hunt, with a recent loss or loss looming (as in my case). I have ready your stories in the past. While I may shoot a bigger buck someday and lord knows I will try - this was my Buck Of A Lifetime.
oh almost forgot - "Why are you so certain it was same buck your buddy shot in leg" you may ask? My butcher helped me autopsy his leg, there was definitely a knot or "divot" right in same spot! (was not on other leg). So my buddy missed the bone and it was literally "just a flesh wound" in 2017! (yes there has been some ball-busting)
here he is fighting with his buddy "the 10" in 2017. They hung together summer 2017, pre-rut, and post rut. They also hung out until October 5th 2018 :) Actually had not seen them together since velvet came off, I think my buck won the dominant buck award in 2018and the 10 is presiding over a different area but will most likely see him in here for the rut. That 10 was the bully last year but something happened to him - he was emaciated when I first saw him on minerals in May and the 2017 "7" / 2019 "9" passed him by.
Sorry to hear about your dad my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Congrats on a great buck; from your past posts I know you hard.
Good luck with the rest of your season.
Great Buck and story. God bless your Dad.
haha hugged the tree! Do what you gotta do! Congrats Jack! I hope you showed your dad some pics of that beautiful NJ buck! Hope to see you for your annual Ohio trip!
A 140"+ eight point frame whitetail (w/split brow) is impressive no matter where you killed it. Congrats!
But I have to ask....you're sure that score isn't 114"?
Congratulations Jack... a great buck with some history... just awesome.
Sorry about your Dad. God Bless.
Prayers for your Pop.
The one pic where he is standing broadside "posing" for the camera - he sure has a long body.
Congratulations - really nice buck.
"But I have to ask....you're sure that score isn't 114"? " For Kelly it sure does. RIP my friend. Something tells me he had something to do with this - it's rarely this easy, lots of pressure in these parts.
"The one pic where he is standing broadside "posing" for the camera - he sure has a long body" …. I honestly thought he would weigh 200# dressed, but he was 180lbs.
Congrats on a great buck Jack, thanks for sharing your story and prayers for your Dad.
Congrats. I'm sure your dad was happy you were out there.
if you kill him when he is only 1.5-2.5, that is all he'll ever be .... I do believe in the "Let him go, so he will grow" mantra for deer hunting .... I refuse to kill a young buck .. ... if I want meat, I'll kill a big Doe .. BTW, very nice, congrats ...
Well done Jack! Truley a trophy deer. C
Great story and pictures. Congrats!
Great buck Jack, I'm sure your dad is proud of your accomplishment.
Nice buck congrats! Glad it all came together for you!
Once again, nice going Jack! If you remember the story of my buck last year with my buddys' bow you know how I feel about divine intervention.
Prayers for your dad. Nice deercas well
Prayers for your dad. Nice deer as well
Congratulations again Jack and well wishes with everything else
Congrats buddy. God's peace to your family when the time comes.
Excellent job and congratulations on a great buck.
Great buck!!! Thanks for telling us the story about him. Congrats
Excellent job and a very nice buck. Prayers for your dad.
Congrats on your buck, Jack! Always even more satisfying to close the deal on a buck you have a history with.
GREAT to see it all come together on a target animal... its harder than most think. Prayers for your dad.....Jack.
Congrats Jack! Nothing wrong with that one!
Beautiful buck Jack. Congrats.
Now you can spend more time with your Pop. Sorry to hear.
Congrats Jack. He sure is a pretty buck!
Beauty of a buck and great story!
Great buck Jack!
Praying for your pop....
Hat's off to you, Jack. As I guy who hunted down the road from you for 16 years, I fully appreciate your success on great NJ deer. All my best to you and your family
Way to go, Jack! Congratulations on your buck, and prayers for the family.
Congratulations on the beautiful buck! I never thought bucks like that even came from Nj!
Congrats, Jack! That's a dandy for Alabama.
Great deer anywhere jack. Stud for NJ. Enjoy the rush and I hope your father is doing as well as he can. If you need anything don't hesitate to reach out.
Great story, pics and buck!!!
Great buck. Thanks for sharing everything.
Congrats again on a great buck Jack.
Nice One Jack!! Real Nice