Have You Ever Killed a Big Buck on a Small Property?
Rack Report Details
193 Inches (Green Gross Score)
Time of Year:
November 29, 2018
Clinton County, Ohio
When Nathan Wells’ brother-in-law purchased a small piece of property in Clinton County, Ohio, a few months ago, deer hunting wasn’t the first thing to pop into the hunter’s mind. After all, it wasn’t very large, less than 20 acres, and it wasn’t in an area particularly known for deer hunting.
And then he walked the land and saw all the oaks. And all the deer sign. Wells quickly put up cameras. Within a week, he had photos of a giant whitetail. Additional photos narrowed down the spot Wells needed to hang a stand.
“In a way, this was the easiest buck I’ve ever hunted, he only showed up on weekends, and only in the evenings, like clockwork,” Wells said. “It was the perfect buck for someone who worked a Monday through Friday schedule. The buck always came from the same direction, leading Nathan to believe he was bedding off the property and entering along a trail in front of his camera.”
Taking the buck’s direction into account, Wells hung his stand to allow him to hunt so that the prevailing wind would be in his face as the buck approached. Once archery season opened, Nathan hunted the stand each time the wind was right. But he never laid eyes on the buck.
Until the Ohio youth hunt, that is. While trying to get his young son on his first buck, Nathan chose a spot where the two of them could hunt a couple hundred yards from his archery stand. As the evening progressed, Wells saw a buck emerge from a thicket a few yards behind his stand. Much to his surprise, it was the big buck he had been hunting. The two watched as the buck skirted the camera location, then turned back down the trail toward the camera before taking a side trail in another direction.
While the distance was too far for his son to attempt a shot at the massive buck, the hunt taught Wells a lesson. He had been hunting the deer all wrong. What he thought was a good wind to hide his scent from the approaching buck was actually carrying it directly to the bedded buck just yards behind his stand location.
Armed with this new knowledge, Nathan rested the area until he had the correct wind to hunt the thicket behind his stand. By that time, the Ohio firearm season was in and Nathan hung up his bow and was hunting with his Marlin .45-70.
During the time it had taken for the perfect wind, a new buck had entered the area. As he scanned through trail camera photos, Wells was surprised to see an impressive 140-inch 8-point buck in front of his camera several times. With the thick cover around his stand, Wells knew he would have to be certain of his target to make sure he was on the original buck and not this newcomer.
Even though it was only Thursday, the wind was right to hunt the stand on the evening of November 29.
“The big buck had been a little more active during the week on the last camera check, so I knew with the good wind and an approaching front, I had to hunt that stand that day,” Wells said.
Not wanting to cause any extra disturbance in the area, Wells left his stand in the original location and hunted it by constantly checking the area behind him. When he turned his head just a few minutes later, Wells was shocked to see a large buck just 20 yards from his stand.
“It had snowed, then rained, and the ground was soaked,” Wells said. “The deer never made a sound. He just appeared.”
In the first seconds after the buck’s appearance, Wells questioned whether it was the buck he was after, or the new 8-point. A quick glance at the buck’s rack confirmed it was the larger of the two deer.
“From the time I saw the deer until the time I had my gun in hand and the crosshairs on his shoulder was probably under 20 seconds,” Wells said.
At the shot, the buck bolted into the heavy cover. Wells mentally marked the area where he last saw the deer, then sat down to collect his thoughts and give the deer plenty of time. After a half hour, Wells exited the stand and walked over to where the deer had been standing.
Nothing. No hair. No blood. Doubt started to creep into his mind. Wells then started searching the area where he had last seen the buck before it disappeared into the cover. Again, there was no sign.
Wells then decided to slip out of the area and go to his truck. After calling his brother-in-law and some buddies, he decided to just wait in the truck to give the deer even more time. By the time everyone arrived, and Nathan had shared the story of the hunt, another hour and a half had passed. The group decided to head to the last spot Wells had seen the deer and begin a grid search.
Luckily, that search didn’t last long. The buck was just beyond where Nathan had stopped his original search. It sported a main-frame 10-point rack with symmetrically split brow tines and a total of 19 scorable points. His taxidermist later scored the rack at 193 inches (green gross).