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The Dark Horse

October 4, 2011 by  
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Finally, after 2 long years, passing up a shot without camera light last season, numerous trail camera pics and 5 sightings in the past two weeks – the Dark Horse is dead! It’s been quite a September for me, making up for a heaping helping of tag casserole from last year, I’ve started off my season with a great buck from the Solitude Ranch in Wyoming and now a possible B&C 8 point here in Ohio!

If you read my column last week, upon arriving home I had less than a week to try and find the Dark Horse (named from all the black hair on his face) before season opened here on the 24th. Prior to leaving for a month long trip out west and into Canada, I placed 3 trail cameras in the area this buck was living in. Upon arriving home, I had good news and bad news. I had managed to get a few pics of him while I was gone, but my cards were full a full two weeks before getting back, so not hide nor hair of my buck since he shed his velvet. If you’ve kept up on my columns, you know this “change” when a buck sheds can be a scary time, alot of bucks disappear and head back to some hole not to be seen again until the rut! I did have an ace up my sleeve though, the beans in this area were planted late, and still green, if anything would keep him there that was it!

September 19th: First night in my observation stand, watched him stand up in the middle of the beans 200 yds away from my stand.

September 21th: Second night in stand, watched him stand up in the beans 30 yds away from stand, filmed him for 2 hours and he fortunately fed away at dark,( I got really lucky there!)

September 22th: Abandoned initial stand and hung a new set 150 yards away and watched him get up within bow range of the first stand again and fed across beans into a creekline! The following day I set another stand 75 yards down the field edge towards where he cut into the woods at dark.

September 24th: ( Ohio’s Opener) Hunted the evening and didn’t see him.

September 25th: Watched him get up within bow range of first stand again and feed out into the beans, cutting into the timber further down the field.

September 26th: Nasty day-long rain storm, took advantage of the rain and at noon, hung another stand 150 yards further down the field edge right where he entered the timber the night before.

September 27th: I was in my stand at 3:30, had a southeast wind which was the same wind on the night of the 25th. This wind gave the deer a quartering wind in his face as he moved across the field and he would have to enter the woods and circle around me to get my wind, perfect! Just at last light, I saw a small 1 1/2 year old buck enter the field near my original stand site, and the Dark Horse was right behind him! They were slowing feeding out into the field some 200 yards away, and I knew I didn’t have much time. I surely didn’t want a repeat of last year when I had to pass him up at 10 yards because I had no camera light left, with 15 minutes of legal shooting time remaining! Then, as if on cue, they turned and marched straight down the middle of the field. As they neared my position, instead of turning in towards the woods the younger buck kept heading straight down the middle of the field, 60 yards out, and guess who followed? I knew this was my only chance, he wasn’t getting any closer. As he entered my shooting lane the giant buck stopped to feed, giving me my opportunity. I wasn’t about to grunt to stop him and put him on alert. As he fed I focused my camera on him, ranged him (62yds) came to full draw, and relaxed. As I watch my Lumenok cut the distance, I remember seeing it fly a little off my mark, but as it reached its target it disappeared about midway back and a little low. The giant buck ran about 80 yards then stopped, tail down, and stood there for 10 minutes. I knew it wasn’t a great hit, but it was fatal! He tried to walk 3 times, one step at a time, then bedded down. After a long sleepless night,  a few friends help me take up the trail the next morning and it wasn’t until almost 7pm the next day that I was able to wrap my hands around my biggest 8 point ever! I taped him at 180” gross, he had 29” main beams, carried 6” of mass through his 3rd circumference, and had g2’s and g3’s that averaged 11”. He will be very close to netting 170” as an 8 point!

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