Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Putnam County, Missouri - After having no luck during a very slow season in New York, my friend and I were offered a last minute opportunity to bow hunt in Missouri. Knowing that I would only maximally have four to five days to go, I jumped at the chance. That same evening, we loaded the truck in order to be able to leave early in the morning for the sixteen hour drive westward. We arrived at 11pm, and a hunting location just down the road was suggested to us. We were simply told where to park and nothing more. We knew that we would need to sacrifice the morning to be able to buy licenses and scout the land because neither of us were familiar with it. After scouting, we were left with three and a half days to hunt before rifle season opened that weekend. During the evening, I continued to look for a spot to set up my stand. With Day 1 winding down to an uneventful close, I decided to head to the opposite side of the game lands to hunt a small creek bottom that offered a good vantage point. The next morning, I watched several does work their way down a ridge, about 80-100 yards in front of me, and disappear to the left. A half hour later, movement on that same ridge caught my eye, and I quickly realized that it was a mature buck with his nose on the ground, on the same trail that the does had used. Thinking that he would keep following the trail that the does left, I made a quick grunt with my mouth. He looked my way briefly but kept sniffing the ground in circles. I made another grunt, and he immediately began to come my way. I drew back as soon as he got behind the only tree between us and waited as he walked to me broadside. I stopped him at twenty yards and touched off my release, only to watch the buck trot away 50 yards and look back and then go another 50 yards and look back again. Waiting for him to fall, I noticed a small sapling waving in my peripheral. My arrow had gotten caught in a twig and deflected.
Feeling all but defeated, I returned that evening, only to have someone on a four wheeler pass me forty five minutes later to begin setting up a tripod box blind 100 yards in front of me, which forced me to find somewhere else to set up. The following morning, I selected a spot a few hundred yards from my previous. I saw deer all morning: does, spikes, crotch horns, but nothing decent. That evening, I tried a field edge with my decoy. At last light, I had three young bucks come in to check him out, but each of them passed. The following morning would be my last day, so I decided to go back in to where I saw all of the activity the morning prior. Within the first half hour, I watched a 130 class 8 point feed in the woods to my left with a doe. After another half hour and several grunts, he moved slightly toward me. At 45 yards, he was two steps from my shooting lane, but after five minutes of waiting for him to step out from behind the tree, I realized that he was no longer there. Another three hours passed, and my hunting partner texted me that he was moving his stand and then grabbing lunch. He assured me that he could move it on his own, so I awaited his text to confirm that he had. As I texted another friend a few minutes later, I glanced up to see a high rack buck at 50 yards, trotting directly toward me. I quickly put down my phone, grabbed my bow from its hanger, closed my release, and drew back just in time to stop him around 18 yards, after ascertaining that there were no twigs or obstructions between us this time. Assuming that this was the 130 class 8 point from the morning, I tucked the 20 pin behind the shoulder and released my arrow. A heart shot and a 75 yard blood trail proved me wrong; I had just arrowed a much larger buck than I thought, and by far, the biggest buck of my life. A 158 2/8" Missouri Public Land Monster!