The Swamp Buck
During early August of 1993 I observed a large eight point buck that I was determined to harvest. I watched the deer and took notice of his travel patterns. By the time October 1st arrived (opening day of bow season) his bedding area, primary food sources, and travel routes had been located. The buck preferred a large cattail swamp in Capac, Michigan as a bedding area. He used a particular thick funnel as a travel corridor to his preferred feeding areas. This particular deer would be the culmination of what I had started five years before this. I had only been harvesting bucks that were older than 2 1/2 years.
On October 10th 1993, an hour before daylight, I was sitting in my hang on tree stand twenty feet off the ground. The wind was blowing from the southwest and I was set up in the thick funnel area on this foggy morning. I wanted to catch the buck coming back to bed after his nighttime travels. Shortly after daylight I passed up two smaller 1 1/2 year old bucks. At approximately 8:30 a.m. a doe with two fawns milled around and passed my location. Immediately after they left I heard another deer approaching from my right, which was different than the other deer that morning. This deer took much longer in its approach.
I noticed the headgear on this buck as soon as I made visual contact. It was the eight-point buck that I was hunting for. I had to turn in my tree stand to get ready for the opportunity. I drew my Proline Zephyr II bow back shortly before the buck entered my small shooting lane. The buck was broad side moving slow at approximately twenty yards when I launched the fluted arrow tipped with a Thunderhead 100 broad head. The arrow hit him directly behind the left shoulder and exited low on the opposite side. The large buck took off crashing into the thick brush. I heard the buck run a short distance and go down thrashing.
I tracked the buck approximately fifty yards and found him expired in the thick brush near his swampy bedding area. This buck had a twenty-two inch outside spread, and won the big buck contest at North Point Archery just north of Port Huron. This St. Clair county buck was the first buck that I hunted specifically for and then was able to harvest. I had just taken my trophy hunting to the next level. The 4 1/2 year old buck scored 130 7/8 on the CBM (Commemorative Bucks of Michigan) scoring system, and weighed 198 pounds field dressed. The CBM scoring system is identical to the Boone and Crocket system of scoring. Also, taxidermist Dale Doyen of American wildlife studio completed the outstanding mount.
I have harvested several trophy bucks since this deer including some, which were quite a bit larger. However, I learned many valuable lessons from the taking of this whitetail. This buck was harvested due to careful low profile scouting. Most importantly, letting 1 1/2 year old bucks live to be hunted another year will allow them the age structure necessary to reach trophy potential. Consistent, diligent archery practice from all expected field positions and hunting clothing plays an important roll as well. I also scout year round in order to develop a complete understanding of the deer in the area I am hunting. Had I not scouted year round I would not have known this buck was in my hunting area.
Developing into a trophy hunter takes a considerable amount of time scouting, and practicing with your equipment, as well as the diligence to pass up the younger bucks. Larger bucks also behave differently than the rest of the deer herd. You have to hunt them as a specific type of deer. They bed in cover not typical to the rest of the deer and travel through funnels and corridors that allow them to feel secure. They only travel in open areas during the cover of darkness. Knowing where they feed is necessary, but you should not hunt them in this location. Therefore, it takes a special mindset (dealing with the frustrations) to join the ranks of the trophy hunter. However, the rewards can be outstanding.