- Updated: 18 March 2012
- Published: 18 March 2012
- Hits: 675
So the story of Droopy, the 173lb, drop-tine buck goes...
Last year (2010) John Castaneda sees a buck from his stand, a single brief encounter. He said it appeared that the deer had a “drooping” brow tine or something odd about it. The season ends with no more encounters.
Skip ahead a couple months. John goes into what was believed to be the bedding area. He finds the right side shed, several days later I return with him and I find the left side, the side that had the odd brow. It did not droop, but rather had some knotty junk on it. He nicknamed the deer “Droopy” after his initial encounter.
Skip yet again to July 2011. Working in the same vicinity, I would watch several bucks and does come into a field to feed in the evenings. John and I would watch these bucks and does many times throughout the late summer and we were relatively sure that one was “Droopy”.
September comes and we are still seeing him and a few others as time comes to put up our 2011 stands for the season. John installs his where he had the encounter last year, and I place another 188 yards away. I placed a game cam in front of my stand and left it for several days in “video” mode. I capture “Droopy” and some other deer with in 24 yards of my set-up, confirming he is in the area. After downing the does required earning a buck tag on the property we are hunting, I see the buck several times.
Each time I see him I notice several things: he seems to always travel with the wind at his back and is extremely cautious. This is such a strong pattern that I decide I can only hunt this stand and have a chance at him if the wind is out of the North. I can get away with a wind from the North East as well. I started sitting this tree in late Mid-Oct. before work at times, but only on the North wind. One day I sit in the stand and have him and another buck walk up within 34 yards while I watch another buck I wanted a better look at. Bottom line: opportunity blown.
After discussing this encounter with Mike Zrimm, he convinced me that people sometimes sit an entire season for one opportunity at such a deer, and that I should not waste a single opportunity at him. I went home and reflected on my decision to let him walk that morning.
Sitting another stand roughly 150 yards away one evening, I had three mature does come in behind me. I was ready and facing them when they started acting very nervous. One was blowing as she left the area spooked. Thinking she had spooked all other deer in the area, I focused on the remaining does. They kept looking my way but past me. I turned my head slightly in the direction of their stare and heard a deer walking. As I caught an image from the corner of my eye, I realized it was Droopy. Trying to get turned around without the alert does blowing my cover, he just passed through my third and last shooting lane. Second opportunity blown. He skirted down below me at 20 yards in the heavier cover and went on his way. The only plus is he still was very unaware of my presence.
Thursday Nov. 3. John wants to hunt his stand; I try to discourage this because the wind was from the south. He was determined and decided to hunt the area, as did I. How could I not? I was off this entire week to try to take him this deer.
As I expected, we saw nothing from either stand location and hunted elsewhere that evening. The evening ended and John decided to hunt another area the following morning. I, however, noticed the weather was to be mild and the wind out of the North. I was to have the immediate area all to myself. I got to my parking spot about 10 minutes prior to legal shooting light, slipped into my stand and was set up about 5 minutes later. After about 25 minutes the sun began to peek over the horizon, directly in my face. I saw a doe running along an old fence line I was set up on and where my camera had picked up Droopy well over a month prior. She passed and another doe ran by as if being chased. Only a short moment later came another running by. I got excited as we were coming up on the “seeking/chasing” phase of the breeding season.
To my disappointment, a spike came next. I was thinking it was still early. Just a minute or maybe two later, I hear a twig crack, and I look over my left shoulder to see Droopy walking right to me. Using all cover available, he approached the pine I was in, stayed under my tree for a few brief moments. He decided he would step out to the end of the fence (where my camera had been) to “peek” around as if he wanted to make sure it was clear to expose himself prior to going into the bedding area.
I thought it is now or never, third time’s a charm. I drew my bow and bent over to place my pin on him, he was 8 yards away. I fired, watching my lighted nock bury into his back and towards his opposite shoulder, He bound out into the opening and headed to the bedding area. I reached down to grab my bingos, and he stopped at the edge of the bedding momentarily. He started to run sideways as if to catch his balance, fell over, and was dead 50 yards away. I pumped my fist, hung up my bow and looked for any movement in the tall weeds, nothing. He was mine!
I started to shake realizing what I had just accomplished, knowing how many days I put in that set, knowing what I learned from this deer, knowing how many days and evenings I spent away from home watching him from afar every evening I could. Shaking, I sat down to send out the “I did it” text to all my hunting friends and family. I don’t know that I will rely, in the future, on the third time’s a charm method, but it worked this time. Droopy dressed out at 173 lbs. No official score as of yet.