Larry Stanley of Waukee, Iowa, says he enjoys hunting with a blackpowder rifle, because he likes to smell the smoke. But he doesn’t enjoy cleaning blackpowder guns. Stanley feels confident taking a shot out to 125 yards. He was hunting in 2016 on less than 100 acres of private property, mainly made up of woods and grasslands, in Dallas County and never had seen the big buck before that he eventually took. He’d torn his labrum and rotator cuff in an accident and had had surgery and been in rehab for a while. Stanley definitely had cabin fever.
“I’d seen deer scrapes and rubs in this new area and knew I wouldn’t be moving around very much, due to my shoulder injury,” Stanley recalls. “I planned to sit all day in a portable ground blind. My neighbor told me someone had seen this big buck around Thanksgiving, but I didn’t hunt there until December 12.”
Stanley got into his blind about an hour before daylight and heard deer moving near him but couldn’t see them. Once the sky lightened up, Stanley spotted some does and a small buck. “I had a 12-point buck that would score about 140 pass by my blind around 12:00 noon,” Stanley explains. “I considered taking him. However, he stopped and looked back over his shoulder ever now and then, as though trying to keep track of a deer behind him.“ Stanley had to decide whether to gamble that a bigger buck was coming behind the 12 pointer. Another factor that impacted his decision not to shoot was because he hadn’t had time before the hunt to clean out the brush to create a shooting lane and felt this would be an iffy shot at best. Stanley waited to see if a bigger buck was behind the 12 pointer.
“Through my rifle scope, I could see a glint of white and glimpses of another buck’s head, rack and side, coming through the thick brush,” Stanley says. “Although I couldn’t count his points, I thought he’d be at least a 10 or a 12 pointer with a rack twice as big as the previous buck I’d seen. I moved my rifle to check out the buck’s path and located an open spot about 40-yards away that should give me a somewhat clean shot. Once the buck walked there, I squeezed the trigger on my CVA www.cva.com .50 caliber Optima with its 290 grain PowerBelt https://powerbelt.bpishopping.com/ hollow-point bullet pushed by 100 grains of FFG powder.”
Stanley watched as the buck humped up when he took the bullet, made a step and walked off –not in a hurry. Stanley could tell he’d hit the buck hard. As the big buck walked over a hill and out of sight, Stanley mentally marked the last place he’d seen the buck. Once the smoke cleared, Stanley checked the time on his watch, sat down in his chair inside the blind and waited for 30 minutes to pass before going after the buck.
“Then I walked slowly, checking where the buck had been when I fired and discovered a small amount of blood,” Stanley remembers. “From there to the top of the hill where the buck had vanished was about 100 yards. I walked as slowly as possible for another 30 minutes. Going over the crest of the hill, I spotted the buck on his side, with his head down. I’d already reloaded my Optima immediately after the initial shot. The buck raised his head and looked toward me, and that’s when I saw that the buck had a lot more antlers on his head than I’d originally thought. I was so excited, I felt like a teenager again.”
The buck slowly got up, and Stanley shot, sat down, reloaded and waited for another hour before he decided to go after the buck again. “I could hear the big buck walking away from me, as I tried to keep track of him,” Stanley explains. “Due to shooting through the brush, the shot I’d have to take was a hit or miss one. Still trying to calm down, my mind was racing, thinking, ‘You may miss and shoot off an antler, or you may spook him, and he’ll run further.’”
Stanley looked at his watch after he no longer heard the buck, sat still for another hour and then picked up the buck’s blood trail that went over a hill for about 150 yards. When Stanley spotted the big buck piled-up in some cedar trees but couldn’t get another shot at him, he sat down beside a tree about 20-yards from the buck with the wind in his face. Within 15 minutes, a doe walked up beside the buck on the ground, and he got up on his two front legs, giving Stanley a perfect broadside shot. “He dropped like a rock after I shot him, and I immediately reloaded,” Stanley says. “The buck probably was already dead before he hit the ground, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I sat still, and then I walked over the downed buck and touched his eye with my muzzleloader. He never flinched. I remember standing there and thinking, ‘Holy crap! That buck’s got a lot of horns!’”
When Stanley came out of his dazed amazement, he realized he’d better tag the buck. But he also recognized the problem he’d created. He had a hurt shoulder and a big buck to get out of the woods. He called his mid-20s, 6’4” tall, 240-pound son-in-law, Matt York, who was a weightlifter, on his cell phone for help. York only lived 20 miles from where Stanley was hunting. Stanley had brought a harness with him and drug the big buck downhill.
“I had so much adrenaline coursing through me, I never felt the pain in my shoulder,” Stanley mentions. “Once Matt walked up and saw my buck, his eyes got huge, and all he could say was, ‘Whoa!’” Stanley and York drug the buck up a hill, stopping several times. Word about Stanley’s deer got around quickly, and his buddies came to his house asking if they could take pictures of themselves, holding the huge buck’s antlers. Stanley never will forget how having cabin fever paid off for him.
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” (http://amzn.to/11dJRu8). You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free).
Tomorrow: Goofy the Texas Buck Deer Was a Trophy But Not Because of His Rack Size