Editor’s Note: If you can pinpoint a no-pressure deer area, often you’ll find a very productive place to hunt.
“My 17-year-old brother, Joe, wanted to argue with me about where he should hunt,” John Tuck of Oneonta, Ala., remembers. “I had cleared, plowed and seeded the road and a 1/2-acre green field in the summer, set-out trail cameras and checked my trail cameras about every week. I had seen six bucks come into the little green field that I had created. Two of them were shooter bucks – an older 6 point and an 11 point.”
The Tuck brothers, John and Joe, were hunting their grandfather’s farm near Susan Moore in Blount County, Ala., where John had planted a food plot right on the edge of 1,000 acres of reclaimed strip-mined land that had grown up in pines and brush so thick that a good portion of the property was almost un-huntable. Right near the strip-mined land where Tuck had determined the deer were bedding was 40 acres of hardwood timber. On the other side of the timber was a hay field. All around the 40 acres, the deer had heavy hunting pressure. But because the reclaimed strip mine’s trees and vegetation were so thick, there hadn’t been any pressure put on the deer that were bedding in the strip-mined area and the hardwoods that Tuck was hunting. This region truly never had been hunted before Tuck had created somewhat of a sanctuary there.
Since Tuck just had graduated from college, he had the spring and the summer to expend the time and effort to create the green field, put out trail cameras and study the bucks coming to the green field as their antlers grew. “During the summer, the bucks were still in their bachelor groups,” Tuck says. “I knew that I had six different deer coming to the green field. One was an older 6-pointer that I planned to take. The other buck was an 11-pointer that I only had gotten pictures of at night.”
Before the season, John Tuck practiced faithfully with his bow. This season was the first he’d hunted with a bow, although he’d taken several deer before with his rifle. He had set-up a ladder stand facing the green field about 20-yards off the green field. Off to his right, he could see the 100 yards of what had been a road that he also had planted. Tuck didn’t get to hunt the first week of bow season. But he and his brother had decided to hunt the second week of the season.
Tuck got in his ladder stand well before daylight and first saw two does with their fawns. A few minutes later he spotted a spike come out of the thicket to feed on the road where Tuck had planted a portion of his green field. Next, a small 4 point came out on the road and began to feed, followed by two young 6-point bucks – about 50-yards away. In the thick cover just off the road, John Tuck saw the big 6- pointer on his hit list, but he didn’t present a shot. All the bucks were coming in to Tuck’s far right, causing him to have to stand and turn to get a good shot. Hopefully, he would get a shot directly behind his treed stand.
“Then all I could see in the thick cover was white tines,” Tuck explains. “The 11-pointer that I had seen on my trail camera was now walking and grazing toward my stand about 60 yards away.” Tuck took out his range finder. However, before he could determine the distance he was from the big buck, the huge buck reached a place where John knew he had to take the shot, or otherwise the buck would be out of sight. Finally, the 11-point presented a broadside shot at 45 yards. Tuck was shooting an older Mathews Feather Max Bow (http://mathewsinc.com/product/feather-max). Because he had only a 40-yard pin, he had to guesstimate where he should aim. When he released the arrow, the big buck took off running, and Tuck said, “I had no idea whether I had hit the buck or not.”
Tuck didn’t see or hear the buck after the shot. Some of the other bucks left the road, and the big 6- pointer remained in the thicket, before stepping out in almost the same spot where Tuck had shot at the big 11-pointer. “I ranged the 6-pointer at 52 yards,” Tuck reports. Since Tuck only had a 40-yard pin, once again, he knew he’d have to guesstimate where to aim. According to Tuck, “Since I didn’t know if I’d hit the 11-pointer or not, I nocked another arrow, drew the bow and took a shot at the big 6-pointer. However, my arrow flew over his back, and I missed. Later I was glad I did.”
Tuck sat in his stand with his mind racing. Had he missed two big bucks on the second morning he ever had bowhunted? Did he hit the first buck? As does moved out in front of him, Tuck didn’t want to come out of his tree stand, because he didn’t want to disturb his brother Joe’s hunt – about 300-yards away. The two brothers had been texting back and forth about how their hunts were going.
Finally, at 9:00 am, John Tuck went to meet his brother and brought him to the spot where he’d taken the shot. The two young men looked for arrows. John found his first arrow painted with blood. The second arrow was totally clean. Both men began to search for blood. Finally, John discovered a small speck of blood, then another and another, and finally a wide ribbon of red. Forty yards from where the 11-point buck had taken the arrow, John Tuck found his first-ever bow kill. The 11-pointer’s official Buckmasters score was 140-7/8. His composite score, including the inside spread of the main beams, was 155-5/8, and was in John Tuck’s words, “The biggest buck I’d ever seen in the State of Alabama.”
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