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Hello Ohio Sportsman family,

I know I’ve been absent. Not much time for forums these days. But I still wanted to share my 2022 buck story. Thanks for reading. Hope everyone is well and has a safe and successful season.
Elk Deer Horn Terrestrial animal Fawn


Church was a deer the whole family knew well. It all started in the fall of 2020, after acquiring a new hunting farm. He wasn’t a regular, but “got caught” on the trail camera enough to know he was killable. One of my hunt club members targeted him that late season and we quickly learned he avoided corn piles and open, visibly placed trail cameras. The season closed without any shot opportunities for my hunt club member but we learned a few of Church’s habits.

I was laying in bed, getting antsy about what deer I was going to hunt last year (2021), when the first picture of Church came through on Oct. 18th. I was super excited to see his return and even though he wasn’t a giant….I ear marked Church as my #1 target.
Black Deer Grass Black-and-white Fawn

Again, Church wasn’t a regular in 2021. Possibly due to a trespassing issue that I was dealing with. So he was a rare sight and difficult to hunt…but finally returned on November 3. I was inconveniently working a 24 hour shift that day and couldn’t hunt. So on the morning of November 4, I scooped the kids up after work and took a morning drive before school. Amazingly, we found him and the kids got to see the majestic Church. Undoubtedly leaving a impression that last to this day.
Handwriting Sleeve Font Deer Fawn

I returned to the farm that evening and missed Church with my recurve at 10 yards. It was at that moment, I realized Church was much bigger than I had thought. I hunted Church the remainder of the 2022 season with several trail camera pictures and one close call in late season. 2021 was a grind that almost broke me. I learned several new habits and acquired several new properties to hunt Church. Again, properties he visited….but I never felt I was in his bedroom. To say the least….this deer covered some acres!

My last picture of Church that season was on January 24th 2022 and I thought maybe he died. I found it odd he just fell off the radar so abruptly.

Black Flash photography Gesture Deer Fawn

On Oct. 14, 2022 I was at work on the first October cold front. Again antsy about what deer I was going to hunt in 2022. I was just getting ready to call it a night when a trail camera in a small thicket (that only a few deer visit) popped. I excitedly opened the Spypoint app and BAMM…..Church was alive and had returned!

With the trespassing issue resolved, I was optimistic Church would return to my hunting farm and that if I waited patiently for the right moment; he could be killed. I believe in yearly deer habits and November 3rd was his day. In both 20 and 21 he visited on the 3rd. My hunt club members knew this and they hunted him with no sightings daily from Oct 31 on. The warm weather and slow movement pushed them all to leave town on November 5th, with hopes to return when it got cooler. As luck would have it on November 6, Church returned to the farm at 12:26 am and my opportunity was set in stone.

I woke up late Sunday morning not accounting for time change. I hurriedly put coffee in a thermos and made a PB sandwich. The SW wind wasn’t perfect for Church’s farm but I had a plan that scent bombed only a small portion of the farm. I took my trusty Lone Wolf hand climber, a decoy and slid into position just as daylight was breaking. I placed the decoy to hopefully pull any deer approaching from the south into position before going downwind and almost out of sight for any other plausible approach. I also sprayed a healthy dose of dominate buck pee on Bucky Jr. I then picked a small walnut tree that I had eyed in the past (but never hunted) and climbed up.
Plant Sky Wood Natural landscape Twig

Once in the tree, I got my back pack hung and screwed in my bow hanger. Then I sat down and pulled up my bow. As the bow left the ground, it rustled the leaves and got hung up on a bush causing some clanking and a brach to snap. Unknowingly, Church must have been close and came running to the base of my tree. I knew instantly it was a buck and presumed it to be a Church. I hurriedly pulled my bow the rest of the way up, knocked an arrow and dug my T-handle release out of my pocket. Church was already at 20 yards now headed towards the decoy. I snapped the release on the bow and Church heard it. It was dead calm and he locked up, pausing, looking for the source. It was that moment he saw the decoy for the first time and instantly “puffed up” and started posturing and stiff leg walking at the decoy. I took the opportunity instantly to draw and settled the pins.

This is where the story gets “blurry”. My peep doesn’t rotate perfect. My typical draw cycle includes licking the peep to turn it a 1/4 turn. In the frantic mess of Church abruptly showing, I forgot to turn my peep. When I closed my left eye to aim I would loose sight of the vitals. I attempted to aim twice and both times couldn’t find the landmarks. At this point I had two options that crossed my mind
1) let down
2) shoot traditional
I feared Church would hear me let down so I opted #2. I pointed the bow and LET-ER-EAT. On release of the arrow, I watched the lighted knock hit Church hard in the rump and crack LOUD, spinning his ass into a tree. He crashed off and started blowing. I’ve never had a mortally hit deer blow, so I was in complete panic. I hung my bow and dug the binos outta my pack. I then watched Church walk off super slow for several minutes. I took a quick video and felt good that he was hurt bad. He was headed into the wide open, so I figured I would peel out of the stand and go mobile to watch him. After almost a half hour, Church made it to a small marsh where I knew he would expire.
Ingredient Natural foods Cuisine Plant Leaf vegetable

Plant Grass Fawn Terrestrial animal Snout

Most deer hunters live by the motto: when in doubt back out. We know that bumping a wounded deer is bad and we should give them time to expire. So I was prepared to wait 24 hours to “track” Church. But I also knew that the meat would spoil in the 70 degree temps. So I decided to utilize the technology of a drone. I called my buddy Mike Tipple who has a commercial drone license, knowing he would be there instantly to give me confirmation of Church being expired or the need to wait.

While waiting on Mike to arrive, I drank my coffee and enjoyed my traditional PB sandwich (I always have after a shot). A quick 7 minute drone flight showed Church belly up in the marsh! I obtained permission from the landowner to retrieve my deer and called the family to join the recovery.

I got super lucky with the shot. I’m sure the Rage 2 blade broad clipped an artery and nearly dissected his colon. His belly was full of blood on gutting. I regret not giving Church a quick death but it happens. Church was a legend in my family.
I’m so blessed to have the support to hunt these creatures and a family that knows how important it is to me. It’s a bitter sweet harvest, long live the legend of a Church.
Sky Cloud Natural material Deer Gesture


Also, for anyone wondering. I’ve spoken with the local ODNR officer and have been assured using a drone for recovery is 100% legal.
 

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