The Quest for "Blade"

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Rack Report Details
Buck: 197 3/8 gross non-typical
Time of Year: October
Place: Scioto County, OH
Weapon: Bow

Realtree.com reader Josh Barnard recently submitted a picture of this giant buck for the Realtree.com photo contest—the animal was so impressive, we asked him to share the story with us for the Rack Report. Here it is, in Josh’s own words!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually missed this buck in 2007 while hunting on a 50-acre tract of private property in Southern Ohio. I figured he would’ve scored in the 140s then. But I never saw him the rest of that season, or during the 2008 or 2009 season. I figured he’d been killed by another hunter or been hit by a car.

I have a pinch point on this property that I’ve been hunting for years, but after scouting and hunting for sheds this past February and March, I found an area full of huge rubs near some thick cover about 200 yards from the area I usually hunt. A few days later, while doing some more scouting in that area, I found a big shed antler with a sticker point coming off the base. After looking it over, I guessed that if the other side matched, the buck would score in the 160s. I began making plans to hunt the area this fall. 

Later in June, I was out setting some trail cameras and I noticed a shed antler hanging in a tree nearby. Turns out, it was the other side to the shed I’d found in the spring. The landowner had found it and hung it in that tree. After looking over it, I realized the sheds were from the buck I’d missed in 2007. I was anxious to get him on the trail camera, and decided to name him “Blade.”

Although I began getting pictures of several different bucks as the season approached, I never did get Blade on camera. One of the bucks I was getting on camera was a 160-class 14-pointer. I decided to target him during hunting season, but I kept hoping that maybe Blade would return to the property as well.

When I began hunting in September I was seeing a lot of bucks, but hadn’t seen the 14-pointer or Blade. After hunting on the morning of September 30 in my usual area, I decided to slip in close to the thick cover area where I’d seen all the rubs back in the spring. Sure enough, the place was torn up with fresh rubs and scrapes. It was raining on the afternoon of October 5, so I snuck in there and hung a lock-on stand. I noticed there were several more fresh rubs in the area.

I was finally able to hunt the new spot on the morning of Oct. 9. It was 41 degrees, with a perfect southwest wind. About 15 minutes after daylight, I saw a doe feeding her way toward me. Behind her was a 6-pointer and a 130-inch 9-pointer that I recognized from trail camera pictures. They were feeding heavily on acorns, and as they got to within 50 yards of me, they started acting nervous. The smaller buck jumped suddenly, ran toward my tree and stood there, facing the thicket. That’s when I saw another deer approaching. Looking at him through my binoculars, I could see long tines; I knew immediately he was a big deer. I carefully grabbed my bow, not wanting to spook the 6-pointer under my stand. When the big buck stepped to within 25 yards, he gave me a slight quartering-to shot, and I released my arrow. When he turned to run, I could see two big stickers coming off his bases.

I knew I’d made a good hit, but I made myself wait about 45 minutes before looking. Soon, I spotted my arrow, covered in blood. The blood trail was sparse at first, and I told myself that if it didn’t improve within the next 40 yards, I’d back out and get some help tracking him. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do that. I spotted his white belly about 30 yards away. He’d only gone 100 yards or so total. When I got to him, I knew for sure it was Blade. I wondered where he’d been over the last two seasons. Had I not done some post-season scouting in the spring and found that spot, I probably would’ve never known.