Five seasons ago, in late October, I laid eyes on a large buck. I had never seen this buck, or had any trail camera pictures of him... I decided then, that buck was the buck I was going to kill...or nothing.
Well, "nothing" won out for that season, and I had tag soup.
The next season came and went, with only seeing him on two occasions, it was again, the last week in October, and once after Thanksgiving… tag soup! Year three, and I decided to get more cameras out, and to have mineral and even corn (much to the chagrin of SITO... :)) to see if he was still alive, and equally important, on this farm. I was able to get a few pictures of him in the daylight in early September, and tried to set up on him, and never saw him again...then, after season closed, I got a couple of pics of him...he is alive and well... "tag soup", three years and counting.
Now comes last season.... I knew he was in the area, so I set cameras out all over this property, and NOTHING, UNTIL, the last week of October, and he became a camera hog.
He was amazing, he grew a lot, and was even bigger than I had hoped, and he had a 9 inch kicker... he was HUGE and majestic... my goal was clear, my resolve absolute, I was going to kill "Frazier" this year, I'm pulling all stops... HE IS MINE.
Let me back up a bit... by now, he had become infamous... I was hunting him, as were on two or three others, on nearby properties. They too had pictures of him, and I had even heard stories of "close encounters”, I was sweating that I would not get a chance before one of them got him.
Adding insult to injury, my land owner has a couple of farms, a mile apart... I LOVE both places, but he allows two guys from Mississippi hunt my favorite for one week (friend of a friend kinda deal) and I cannot hunt it until they are gone. Well, as luck would have it, they had seen him as well, and were holding out for a chance to harvest “Frazier”.
So, once they left, I was all set, I had planned on staying off that farm for a week or so, so it would "settle down" from the nine days of solid pressure they had put on this small farm. In the meanwhile, I kept hearing reports of others getting pics and close encounters... Hoping I would get my chance, FINALLY, November 19, 2017, the wind is right, and the hunt is on... I get to my stand, EVERYTHING feels right... As the sun begins to be shine, I look up and there he is, FRAZIER, 75 yards west and closing, he is gonna come right past me!!! Nope, he cut through at 35 yards, no shot he's gone... At this point, I text my buddy and tell him that he came through, no shot! He asks, “what are you gonna do” and I told him “I am sitting here until dark or he comes back through”, but I thought he'd be back....sure enough, 30 minutes later, I look up, and there he is, 60 yards and closing, he is going to come right down the trail at 16 yards, this is gonna happen, I'm gonna kill Frazier (already thinking about what mount I want him done in) this is happening!!! Oh know, he is going back to the same trail as this morning, he isn't gonna come through! My mind is racing, where is my rangefinder, how far is he, am I gonna have a shot??? He stopped, 31 yards, I have a hole, I've got him... I draw my bow, settle my pin, I touch off my release, and promptly lift my head just in time to watch my arrow shave the hair off his back... OH NO, I MISSED, four years, and I blow the shot!!! I literally had to hold back tears, as the emotion and adrenaline were out of control.
Once I settled down, I had to text my buddy Lance, and tell him what had happened. Lance was silent, finally he asked if I was kidding, all I could say is "oh, how I wish, I just flat out blew it", again, silence....
At this point, I am committed to hunting Frazier, and ONLY Frazier, I had to regroup, what now, what is the game plan???
I had to figure out what he was calling his core area, I must get more cameras out, check the ones I have, I have to find him. Let's just say that I have tons of pictures of “Frazier”, can even see the bald spot on his back where I shaved him, but never another encounter, and candidly, I hunted him so hard, it became a burden, I was obsessed, and nothing else mattered... I was going hunt him EVERY MORNING AND EVERY NIGHT for the rest of the season. TAG SOUP 2017, ugh.
So, here comes this season, I don’t want to do the work, I don’t want to check stands, even had help from my landowner put in an alfalfa patch, and I didn't really care. I'm not sure I want to hunt this year, last year was almost more than I could handle. I hadn't even set cameras, I wasn't excited about this season. Heck, I am not sure "Frazier" is alive, how would I know, I hadn't even put cameras out, or scouted, and ITS THE END OF AUGUST.
Thank goodness for my 11-year-old daughter, she told me it was time to get ready to take her hunting, so I had to do something to make sure SHE had a good hunt.
I had decided, we would hunt the fringe, and I would stay out of the core, until Halloween. So, we hunted a few times, and always saw deer, never Frazier...we ran cameras, and only had one mature buck on camera, a heavy TALL 8-point, and not much else, NO Frazier....
So here comes Halloween, time to hunt, not ready to go to the core yet, and I am running late, so I sit an observation stand. All I saw were a few does, and a small buck...NO Frazier.
Friday, November 2, I am hunting a stand that I really like, but have never have a lot of action, ‘til tonight. It was the single best night in a stand I had EVER had…without shooting a deer.
I had a doe running full tilt under me with two small bucks in tow, then two more P&Y class bucks come through.
As I sat there, thinking about out this couldn’t get any better, in comes a 165ish ten, working towards me...30 yards, no shot! Then, not one, but TWO more 150 plus deer enter the field. Not sure where any of these three came from, as I had no pictures and had never seen any of them. I was ALL SMILES, as I walked to my truck. After all, how can it get any better?
Fast forward Saturday morning, bad wind hunt to hunt, but I wanted to be in the woods. Nothing more than one small buck came through. It was disappointing, after the previous evening.
Saturday night comes, November 3, the wind is strong out of the west, it is PERFECT for the stand I have in the mid draw, on the property, I'm going in, its time, big deer are on their feet, and with this wind, I felt the deer would come through this spot.
As I approach the stand, I bust five does out, they were bedded under my stand, what a bummer. I was hoping they would come through, not run out.
I texted a buddy and told him what happened and told him that I held out hope that maybe a good one would come check the bedroom for some lover... little did I know.
So, at 4:00P.M I look up and see a deer, grabbed my binoculars, and saw a rack...it’s a shooter (remember now, I have NO IDEA if Frazier is around) but I can't see what he is, just that he has a lot of bone, he gets to a creek crossing, 50 yards, no shot, I grab my grunt tube, I softly grunt, he stops, he stands there forever, I gently grunt again, trying to coax him into checking me out, not happening, he turns and runs back where he came from, he’s gone! A while after he left, I again text my friend Lance to give him the news, saw a Giant... I boogered him, and he is now 150 yards away snorting and blowing, dang he was nice, I wondered if it might be “Frazier”.
Although I scared the five does when approaching my stand, I still had deer around me all evening, it was kinda weird in fact.
I had a doe and yearling work a complete circle around me, in fact, at one point they stood dead down wind and snorted a few times, but I don't think they ever really figured me out, they looped around in front of me, and were again working to get down wind.
I was watching them, when I turned, and saw HIM again, it had begun to rain, he had worked back out in front, and was watching the doe behind me. It was him, it was “Frazier” he was looking right through me. Does he see me? Is he watching the does? My heart is racing, he is standing firm, I move slowly to grab my rangefinder, 40 yards...EXACTLY, 40 yards, slight quarter towards me, “I don't want to shoot him at 40 yards”, I say to myself, I can do this, I practice beyond that daily...I grab my bow, I settle my pin on his shoulder, he is a statue, he isn't moving. I touch of the release, I see my lighted noc disappear into his chest, I hear the arrow hit him.
I got him, is it a good shot? I watch as he bolts across the pasture...its tall grass, it’s raining.
Please go down I'm thinking. I grab my binoculars, pull them up, and he's gone. I can't see him, where is he??? About that time, I see him raise up onto his hind legs, and fall dead... he is dead! I am shaking uncontrollably, the adrenaline is running thick through my veins, I sit down, shaking uncontrollably.
Down goes Frazier!!! Down goes Frazier!!!
It was the end of a” Five Year Romance”.
Very cool, Dan! Thank you for sharing.
Take a well deserved break now....lol
Your persistence paid huge dividends!!!
Not sure if I could have done that as deer back straps, rapped in bacon, and grilled med rare, would have been in my mind many times during the previous years.
Nicely done all around. my best, Paul