Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

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Bobbyparks
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I mostly hunt turkey in: United States
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Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Bobbyparks » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:12 pm

This has set in file in my computer for along time and thought I'd post it here. For those who care to read this it tells of the challenges I went thru years ago trying to kill a particular deer.


The Disputed Property Buck

From 1992 to 2002 I was a member of a 3700 acre hunting lease located in Taylor County on the Flint River called the “Beechwood Hunting Club”. This particular area was known as the Beechwood Swamp and as I understood it was once owned by a General John B. Gordon who was a Confederate officer during the Civil War. At some point an engineer from the Netherlands had been commissioned to construct a series of levees and dams that assisted with flood control and allowed for agricultural productivity. This aspect made the Beechwood Swamp unique.

This area had less deer per square mile than other hunting properties due to the hog population, but it had a good buck to doe ratio. We had a sign in box and the lease was divided into over 20 tracts each with a name. You were required to sign in and out each time you hunted. This set up allowed for us to hunt safely and because of the trophy management rules we had in place, confidence that a fair number of mature bucks were roaming the property.

I focused on two main tracts; both at opposite ends of the property and both off to the edges of the lease boundary lines. This was before trail cams so it took time to figure out how a good buck moved and I took sightings and scouting information from the previous year and applied it to the following season.

One of my favorite’s tracts to hunt was named “The Disputed Property”. To this day I don’t know why it was named that but figured at some point in history the ownership must have been in question. I focused on this area because it was difficult to access beyond the logging road that ran through it which had sloughs on both sides and to cross meant to get wet. I noticed that very few members signed into it so it was exactly where I wanted to go. I figured out the best places to cross the sloughs and marked my “secret” routes with “bright eyes” reflective markers. You had to know where to start shining your light though as I always set the first one way off the road.

Unlike turkey hunting, I was somewhat protective and closed mouth about the deer I hunted. The guys in the club knew I wouldn’t keep hunting the same area unless there was good reason, but if I were asked if I saw anything I often came back with, “just a few does” or a small buck”, I figured they knew I was lying and I that they knew that I knew that they knew I was lying. Because of this understanding I figured it was not really lying at all, was a forgivable sin, and they wouldn’t hold it against me.

Fall of 2000

I hunted the Disputed Property hard off and on during the 1999 season because of good buck sign but never saw the buck. The following season I set up a little differently and one morning around 8:30- 9:00 I finally saw the buck I’d been after. He was a 10 pointer and he stood 75 yards away up on the levy dam. I knew he was on one of his trails but I didn’t have a clear shot through the cane. At first I was okay as I have a way of keeping my cool and fighting buck fever when a good deer is in front of me. As stupid as this may sound, I would convince myself he’s not really a shooter which keeps me calm as I’m always afraid of making a mistake of shooting a deer that needs another year or two.

He was standing in some brush and freshening up one of his scrapes. I expected him to walk along the slightly raised dam so I looked down the levy to see where I could get a clear shot and saw a small opening 15 yards ahead. When I looked back I couldn’t see him and was sure he had started walking down the levy which was so thick I wouldn’t be able to see him until he passed a large tree and walked through the opening. I got my gun up and propped ready to take the shot as soon as he appeared. I waited for him to come into view and was starting to have trouble breathing right because the old “convince yourself he’s not a shooter” thing only works for a couple of minutes. I noticed that my crosshairs started to bounce like a heart machine every time my heart beat. I began to think maybe he’s not walking but I was afraid to take my eyes off the scope and the narrow opening I was waiting for him to step into.

My nerves were frazzled by now but I looked back down the trail and realized he was still in the scrape. Now my mind was racing and I began to worry that he would step back off the other side of the mound and disappear and it would be over just like that. As I watched him though the scope I convinced myself that I could force the shot through the small cane growth and not get deflected. I propped my gun on my knee and squeezed off the shot. He spun and took off and I couldn’t tell if I had hit him but I started trying to pray him down to the ground. I watched him come to a stop in a spot that offered no shot and he just stood still looking around not sure what had happened or where the sound had come from. I knew he was going back into the clear-cut the same way he came in which he did. I knew I had missed him and it was one of those “I can’t believe I did that” moments that you want to take back. I went over and looked for blood and walked back up to the scrape and back again but I had not touched him.

I walked back to where I had been sitting on the ground and just laid there in shock and disbelief ready to throw up. I had spent most of the season before hunting him and had finally gotten a chance at him only to blow it. If you’ve been there and most of you have, it’s hard to shake off and you never get over it, you just learn to live with it. The rest of that deer season was uneventful and I never even mentioned to anyone what had happened. As much as I needed to talk about it to someone I was afraid to. They may have wondered why I looked depressed each time they saw me but no one said anything.

Spring 2001

Towards the end of next turkey season I loaded a ladder stand into my truck and drove down the Disputed Property road and unloaded the stand. I dragged it across the slough near a beaver dam and over to the tree I had chosen. This set up was in an area that had a long narrow slough with a low but raised mound running beside it for 300-400 yards. The continuous mound was the displaced dirt from when the levy was dug over 130 years ago. There was one spot that provided a dry crossing and that was where he came from the first time. I had forgotten the brace bar that stabilizes the ladder stand but didn’t think too much about it at the time. I put it 40 yards from the high part of the levy dam which ran left to right in front of me and 25 yards away from the long slough that was on my side of the levy mound. By the time I had secured the stand to the tree I was exhausted and thought I was about to have a heat stroke. I remember thinking to myself this is the price I’m paying for not killing him the first time. I clipped a few limbs and left planning to come back in the fall. All that summer I thought about getting back to the Disputed Property.

Fall 2001

When archery season started I debated whether to hunt him and risk serving notice and compromising that spot which was the one place I knew for sure that he walked. I decided to stay away from the stand but to sign into the area on our sign in board and lurk around different areas with hopes of seeing him or just lucking into another good buck. The closest I would get was to look down the long stretch of logging road but I never crossed the water. I decided that when gun season started I would only hunt the stand with a west wind which was what blew the day I’d seen him. I knew this wind worked for him and allowed him to exit the thick swamp clear-cut heading straight towards me and then turn left at the dam using his trail. It was cutting it close as my scent would barely blow off to the side of his travel route.

The first several days of rifle season that I hunted the wind was bad so I kept signing in but staying away. Finally one morning it was predicted to blow out of the west. I got in the stand but not long after the sun came up the wind changed so I climbed down and left. The next morning the wind was good for just over an hour and changed just enough to worry me so I left again.

I’ve concluded that the biggest mistake I’ve made in the past was to push the issue and hunt the right spot but at the wrong time hoping I would get lucky. I’m sure I’ve been detected numerous times but didn’t know it and continued to hunt with no chance of him coming through because I had served notice. I wasn’t going to take a chance here.

The next weekend the wind was wrong and a couple members made mention of me signing into the Disputed Property so much. In fact one guy had counted and said I’d signed into it 14 times.

The following Friday evening when I got into Fort Valley a store owner mentioned one of our members had stopped by with a big buck. I was happy for him but depression was starting to set in and I was starting to feel like time was slipping away. But the wind was forecasted to be just right the next morning so I signed into the Disputed Property for the 15th time and went to the stand for the third setting.

It had been daylight for a while when I started thinking that although I could see where I wanted to see, my view was limited from the stand and I could see in more directions if I got back down on the ground. I debated whether to get down or not and came close to crawling out of the stand but I decided that I should stick to my plan. I remembered he had not appeared the first time until the sun was shining brightly right on top of the levy mound and the area coming out of the clear-cut that led to the dry crossing. It was a little before 9:00 when the sun slid down onto the levy mound. I kept watching the trail and kept imagining him walking on it. I hoped he would come from slightly to my left coming straight towards me, travel across the dry crossing and then turn and walk along the levy mound just like before. I heard something over to my right which drew my attention but after a few seconds I looked back to the left and there he was, walking straight towards me just like I had imagined.

I had to start talking to myself this time because I knew it was him right away and my old calming tactic wasn’t working. Somehow I stayed calm and everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I kept an awareness of the slight breeze by watching my breath in the cold air. He stopped at the point where I expected him to turn left and he put his nose up and checked the wind a couple of times and it occurred to me he could smell anything coming from the scrape that I assumed was in the same place as last year.
After what seemed like forever he started walking but he didn’t turn onto the levy mound and instead came over to my side of the slough. Now I was fighting panic because it looked like he might walk along the old road trail which would put him more behind me making it tricky to turn and shoot him, and he’d likely smell me if he walked 20 yards past my side of the slough . To my relief he turned left as soon as he crossed the land bridge and started walking up my side of the levy and angling towards me. This was the best I could hope for but this was cutting it close. I worried that he would wind me before I could shoot and hoped he wasn’t far enough over to pick me up. As soon as he walked behind a tree and his eyes went out of view I swung my gun and turned enough to get the right angle. He made slight turn towards me which would put him walking within 5 yards of my tree. He never made it that far. He stopped 22 yards away and raised his head up high like he just realized something was up and at that exact moment my old Remington 760 pump 30-06 went off. He literally came up on his hind legs like a horse raring up and fell over backwards. I’d never had a deer do that but he landed on his back and I kept my gun on him prepared to shoot again.

It’s funny how it can get cold so quickly because I started shaking uncontrollably. Once I knew for sure he was down I turned to climb down out of the stand but nothing was functioning right. I have never been like that before or since but seriously my legs didn’t seem to belong to me anymore and they were doing the Elvis Presley shake thing. I took 2-3 steps down and the ladder stand started shaking so badly I was sure it would collapse. I really was concerned that the stand was going to fold up and dump me on the ground and that not having the stabilizer bar mounted was going to cost me. I stayed ready to jump while I climbed down as fast as I could. I walked over to him still shaking and put my hands on his 11 point rack. He had good mass and his rack was as I remembered it although I didn’t see the spit brow tine the first time. I just sat back and looked at him for a while taking it all in.

I needed to go back to the sign in box and pick up my game carrier cart that I kept hidden in the brush near the box. It would take a while to walk out, drive to the box, get the cart and get back. Now I started worrying about someone on the bordering property finding the deer and taking him. I knew that wasn’t possible but I guess I was just half nuts at the time.

I drove out, retrieved the cart, and drove back down the Disputed Road to a point that put me closest to the deer. I crossed the slough and got soaked but this would be the quickest way in and out with him. I was glad to see he was still there and realized I must be paranoid.

I never field dress deer in my prime hunting spots so I dragged him onto the carrier and started walking out. The cart worked great although I got hung up a few times but by the time I got the deer across the water and hauled him up the bank up onto the road, I was close to having a heart attack. Because I’ve mostly hunted alone I keep a camera and tripod in the truck and use the camera timer. I’m usually pretty good at this but this time I cropped most of my own head out on both shots.
Copy of scan0002.jpg
Copy of scan0001.jpg
(PHOTOS above show him right after I got him back across slough...used a tripod and timer and cut my head off...I was exhausted from getting him out!)

I sat back on the truck tool box looking at him and remembering just how all of this had happened. Killing this buck was the only way I would have ever gotten over missing him the first time. I remembered the effort it took to drag the stand across the water and to the tree and how every day for months I’d thought about this buck. I realized I had signed into the Disputed Property 15 times partly with hopes of catching him somewhere besides the stand area but also to protect the area from pressure. I was glad that I had not pushed too hard and had been patient enough to hunt the right spot at the right times. And then I remembered how close I had come to climbing down out of the stand so I could see further. That thought sent chills down my spine because who knows how that would have ended up.
12 Taylor County  11pt 144 gross.jpg
(Revised 2013)

I have not deer hunted for years now but through the last 10 years of my deer hunting career I mostly hunted a particular deer along with hopes that any good buck could come by. I attempted to figure out enough about each buck to kill him. I’ve been lucky enough to kill several deer in the 130-140 range but nothing like what I've seen posted here at GSN over the past few weeks. This buck only scored 144 B&C but taking him by far has been the most rewarding experience of my hunting life. I felt I worked hard, stayed persistent, patient, and paid a price for missing him the first time. I felt I earned the honor of putting the Disputed Property Buck on my wall.

Bobby Parks
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gut_pile
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Re: Disputed Property Buck

Post by gut_pile » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:25 pm

Good read Bobby. I enjoyed it.
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Ross
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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Ross » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:24 pm

Great story Bobby! I really enjoyed that

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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Jamey » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:13 pm

I always enjoy reading your stories Bobby. Great deer and better than most because of the way you earned him.

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Bobbyparks
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I mostly hunt turkey in: United States
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Shotgun
Small assortment of friction calls
Binoculars
Sometimes a dead turkey
Location: Georgia

Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Bobbyparks » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:57 pm

Thanks guys.

That deer does mean alot and I sometimes salute the dude when I go down in the basement :)
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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Dixie Belle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:05 pm

Another fine story Mr. Bobby.
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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by MidTNHunter » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:17 pm

Awesome story and a dandy buck! Thanks for sharing the story. When you "hunt" an animal that gives it a story! Loved your story!


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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by sman » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:45 pm

I've heard the story and seen the buck. He is a trophy!
What? What?

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Re: Disputed Property Buck (STORY)

Post by Cut N Run » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:19 pm

Great read Bobby. Antler score doesn't mean as much as the experience, especially when you're hunting one specific buck that possess you.

Your story gives me motivation to put down the story of my biggest buck one of these days. He got by me more than a few times and by the time I got the drop on him, it had become personal. I lost lots of sleep and a girlfriend over him.

Jim
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