Son Bags the Big Buck His Dad Missed Last Season

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Ashton Copas and the pictures of his Ohio buck have been making their rounds on the Internet. Here’s the story behind his hunt.

Rack Report Details
Buck: 180 7/8” (nontypical)
Time of Year: November 19, 2022
Place: Pike County, Ohio
Weapon: Ruger American Predator .350 Legend

On his own accord, Ashton Copas decided to pass on a 135- to 140-inch 8-pointer during the Ohio youth season. He had his heart set on this buck, which he’s called the Ten Buck for the last two years. Image courtesy of Tim Copas

It was 14 degrees in southern Ohio on November 19. Twelve-year-old Ashton Copas, who has Down syndrome, had outgrown his hunting clothes and was wearing his mother’s Realtree Edge camo. Ashton doesn’t like gloves, so he’d occasionally stuff his hands into his mother’s coat to warm them up. Ashton’s father, Tim Copas, asked him, “Aren’t you cold, Ashton?” Tim said he’ll never forget his son’s response.

“He pulled his hands out of the coat and said, ‘My fingers are, but I love it!’ His face was glowing. Anytime I ask him if he wants to go hunting, he’ll drop everything and be ready to go. He loves it that much,” Tim said.

The hunt really began 2 years ago when Tim and Ashton were putting out corn and apples. They got a trail camera picture of a dandy 4 1/2-year-old buck. They hunted hard that season but didn’t see the deer. In 2021, they captured 10 to 12 pictures of the buck near what they call the “pond blind.” All of the pictures were captured at night, except for one at around 7:30 a.m. They hunted the buck, but it was a no-show, until one afternoon when Ashton was in school and Tim hunted alone.

“I had does in front of me,” Tim told, “and he came running out of the woods. He stopped, and I took the shot. I thought I heard the bullet hit, but I watched him run for 200 yards and disappear into the timber. I searched, but I could find no hair or blood. It was really disappointing at the time, but now I know that it was meant to be that way.”

This past fall, the buck started showing up on the trail cameras in late October as he’d done in 2021. He was slightly sporadic in his movements, and sometimes he’d be on the camera at the other end of the farm. Tim knew that if they continued feeding the does, the buck would come out while he and Ashton were hunting.

Ashton’s buck was on the Copas’ trail camera pretty regularly leading up to the successful hunt. Image courtesy of Tim Copas

“I only went hunting two times without Ashton,” Tim explained. “On November 11, the buck was on the trail camera at noon. I got five or six really great pictures of him. I noticed he was coming out of the brush from the same direction every time he’d come in.

“The evening before the Ohio youth season,” Tim continued, “Ashton was very excited. He wanted to get the ‘Ten Buck,’ which is what he’d been calling the buck. On the HuntStand app, I noticed that the wind was going to be wrong for the pond blind. Since we went to the other blind, and I decided to try something to get the buck to come out by us. I don’t have a decoy, so I took the antlers off my 3-D target, sprayed it with a scent eliminator and rubbed EverCalm all over it. I also put ConQuest VS-1 on its rear end.

“I rattled that morning,” Tim said. “I saw a buck coming, but I knew it wasn’t Ashton’s Ten Buck. It was a really nice 135- to 140-inch 8-pointer. He came up broadside at 30 yards, and I asked Ashton if he wanted to shoot. He said, ‘Nope. It’s not the Ten Buck.’”

That afternoon, the HuntStand app showed that the wind at the pond blind would blow right toward where he normally approached from. Tim knew they needed to get in there and hunt, though, so he pulled the blind that they’d hunted from that morning and situated it so that their wind would miss the buck’s approach route.

“After moving the blind, we got something to eat,” Tim said. “Then, we drove into the field, and I put a bunch of VS-1 on a drag rag and pulled it along out of the truck window. I dragged it right to the corn pile, and then I put EverCalm all around there. We parked the truck back at the entry to the property and walked to the blind.”

Ashton’s father, Tim, missed this buck in 2021. At the time, he was frustrated. But, now he knows that his miss was meant to be. Image courtesy of Tim Copas

A little button buck and yearling doe were the first visitors. They fed around and eventually wandered off. At about 5 p.m., two big does came to the corn.

“They came right from where I expected the Ten Buck to come from,” Tim explained. “The wind shifted just a little bit, and they got really nervous. They ran 20 yards away. They calmed back down, and I give credit to EverCalm. One returned to the corn, and the other one was standing there watching. Ashton wanted to shoot one of the does. Under other circumstances, I probably would’ve had him do it. But I knew our chances of the Ten Buck coming out were good.

“I told him that the does were ‘decoys,’” Tim continued. “I no more than said that when out he came. I had a BOG tripod setup with the rifle pointing directly at the corn. We let him come in, and he turned broadside at about 70 yards. I helped Ashton get positioned on the deer, and he was really calm. He squeezed the trigger, and the buck dropped instantly.

“As we approached the deer,” Tim said, “I could hardly speak. I just remember praising the Lord. I got on my hands and knees and thanked Him right there. I turned around and looked at Ashton. He looked down and said, ‘That’s a big buck! That’s the Ten Buck!’ And then he gave me the biggest hug he’s ever given me. We were both crying. It was a special moment.”

After Ashton got his buck, his sister, Baylie, said, “Dad, I want to get a buck, too.”

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