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I was able to get it done in Southeast South Dakota on Veterans Day. This buck was one of 2 that I was after this year, and for most of the season I had actually assumed that this buck was dead. Last year I had 9 total pictures of this buck, when he was 3 years old. He completely broke off his left antler, but I could tell from his right side that he had great potential for the future. I didn't consider him a main target going into 2016 season just because he hadn't spent much time in the area the year before. I put out cameras in May, and had this buck weekly from end of May-August. My hopes were increasing on this buck, and thought maybe as he aged that his home range had shifted. I didn't come up with a name for him, and just called him the 7x5.

August 20th was the last trail camera picture I had of the 7x5, and by the time November rolled around I had assumed that EHD had gotten to him. I was after my other target buck, a wide 5x4. I actually hit the 5x4with my bow high shoulder on November 1st, and spent the next 3 days searching for him. I lost the blood trail, and couldn't find the buck, which was heartbreaking, since he was the only target buck that I thought was still alive at the time. I went out November 7th to check my cameras, assuming that IF i had a picture of the 5x4 I could continue hunting, and if not, I would call my season quits for the time being. On the third card pull, I was pleasantly surprised to see the 5x4 on camera in daylight with some does, looking good. So I backed out, and planned to hunt that evening for him.

That night I saw a shooter buck, but to my surprise it was not the 5x4. The 7x5 was across the river from me, out looking for does. I could not believe my eyes, given the fact that it had been 2 1/2 months of no sightings, no pictures from this guy, and then out of nowhere here he is, only 60 yards from me, in broad daylight. He never offered a shot that night, but I went home very optimistic about chasing him.

I had November 10th and 11th off, and planned on hunting hard both days. I elected not to hunt the 10th due to wrong wind direction, which was incredibly hard at the time, but ended up paying off. November 11 I went in, hoping to see the 7x5. I didn't have to wait long, as he stepped out at 6:50AM on the field edge, coming right for me. I saw his white antlers coming through the field, saw his unique brow tine, and knew it was him. At one point he stopped at 40 yards, broadside, feeding in my direction, and I thought about taking the shot. I elected not to, since he was coming my way, wind perfect, and I figured I would let him get closer. He got to 20, and right as I was about to pull back he angled hard right at me. With no shot angle, I sat there, bow raised but not drawn, buck staring right at me, in the worst situation for the time being. He stared at me, I stared at him, which lasted about 5 minutes before he figured he didn't like something. He turned his head, and I tried drawing my bow. He saw the movement, and spooked. Ran 100 yards out into the field, and I was an unhappy hunter, assuming my hunt was over. Because his body language was so relaxed after he had spooked, I decided to try a grunt call to see how he would respond. What's the worst thing that can happen? I've already messed this hunt up the way things were. I know for a fact that I would not have killed this deer if it was any month other than November.

One short, muffled grunt, and he turned back in my general direction. Another one a minute later and he was headed right at me through a sliver of trees. I pulled my bow back when he was 50 yards away, because I knew I couldn't get away with the movement when he got closer. He stopped at 32 yards, and was starting to catch my scent as it swirled through the trees. He pinned his ears back, and I knew he was about to leave. I slowly swung my bow toward him as he was beginning to quarter away, and put the pin behind his shoulder. I let the arrow fly, and knew right away it was perfect. He went 20 yards and I saw him tip over on top of a hill.

This buck was so interesting to me, because of his unpredictable movement. Talking with my neighbors, none of them have any pictures of this buck at all, which makes me wonder where he went all that time that I had no pictures of him, and what caused him to come back at the time that he did. After pulling my cameras, I had quite a few pictures of him during the 5 days before I shot him. I am hoping to talk to a few more local hunters and figure out where exactly he was spending his time.

This is my best buck to date. 13 scoreable points, with a gross score of 161 6/8". I thank the Lord for allowing me to enjoy this sport. Sorry for the lengthy post, you can just skip to the pictures if you don't like reading!


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I would be smiling to, That's a great buck, Congrats, great reward for not getting disappointed after spooking him. Congrats again.
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