WHITETAIL: Too Close
HUNTING PRODUCTS: (Click to View)
The image of the whitetail known as ‘Too Close’ walking through the newly planted CRP field is still ingrained in mind, as if it were yesterday.
It was the opening day of the 2007 Missouri Firearm season. Deer activity was a little slow and the weather was mild. We had just started getting into the practice of deer and habitat management, so traicam pics that year were few.
It was around 11am, and I was just about to call it “lunch time” in the stand. When out of the newly planted CRP field popped a 10 point – 150″ frame bobbing through the grasses.
The whitetail was on a trail that I have shot countless deer on. It was an easy 100 yard pitch shot. I put the cross hairs on his shoulder, squeezed the trigger. He gave a double back leg kick and ran off.
I was sure the whitetail was down.
I waited about an hour, climbed out of my stand and went to recover the deer.
Tracing the blood, I crested over a hill, and up popped the 150″ frame. He ran about 80 yards into a thicket and bedded back down.
Not knowing what happened, I was in utter shock. I positioned to get another shot, but the thicket presented too many obstacles. I tried another effort to reposition, but again he got up, ran another 80 yards and bedded back down.
I now withdrew my efforts, and decided to give him 4 more hours while gathered up a crew to make sure he didn’t get away.
We had 2 men searching, with 3 others posted for his exit routes. Me and my brother started the search for him through the thicket. I was almost sure we would find him dead.
We pushed and searched, until we came out the other side…and nothing!
Walking up to my dad, who was one of the men posted, I said, “Didn’t see anything huh?’
He replied, “Oh yeah, I seen him, but he was ‘too close’ and I couldn’t shoot.”
Being one of the only times I have ever yelled at my father, I replied “Too Close!! How in the hell does a deer get too close!!”
And thus started the story of the whitetail known as “Too Close”.
Later that season, as I now had both full blown whitetail fever and hunter depression, I amped up my trailcam surveillance. Upon further photo analysis, it appeared what had happened was that my bullet had glanced off of his front shoulder bone and not penetrated into his body. Absolutely incredible, but he had a giant scar on his front right shoulder and both and entrance and exit hole in the same shoulder.
The 2007 season ended, and the next season began. To our amazement, this 150 frame 10 point had now blown up into a 160-170″ behemoth. The food plots were in and the hunt was on.
Fortunately for ‘Too Close’ that year, there was also a 190″ whitetail on the farm known as “Houdini” that took up most of our hunting efforts. That story will come at a later date however.
We had plenty of photos of ‘Too Close’ that year, but ultimately he became nocturnal during the majority of the hunting season, and we never encountered him on the hoof during our hunts.
That year we picked up both of his sheds, and let me just say how absolutely massive he was. We now have the sheds on a skull plate, awaiting an early season cape to get mounted.
The 2009 season rolled around, and although he lost a few kickers and character, he made up for it with new mass. He was now a 170′ framed 11 point, that was all over our cameras in daylight. The season could not come soon enough.
Opening day of bow season arrived. It was in the high 80s, but I set out into the field, with the small hope he might move late.
I entered the woods in my tshirt and shorts and made my way to my stand at about 5pm.
Walking mindlessly to the stand, I crested a hill, and shockingly I saw the tail-end of a large whitetail with it’s head down feeding. I could not tell what whitetail it was, but I knew it was big from the body size.
I knelt down, knocked an arrow and stood back up. The whitetail’s head was still down. I drew my bow back, and up popped the frame of ‘Too Close’. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. I had just walked up to 30 yards of the largest whitetail I have ever seen while hunting.
Little did I know this would also be the instance I would make one of the worst hunting mistakes of my life.
At the time, I was shooting a one-pin sight. I had the pin on 20 yards, and ‘Too Close’ was now at 30 yards. I was already drawn back, he was looking the opposite direction, and instead of just aiming my site higher, I proceeded to let my string back and readjust my site to 30 yards.
I let my string down without him seeing my, looked down to readjust to 30 yards, and when I looked back up, ‘Too Close’ was now staring directly at me. I was toast!
We had a stand off for about 60 seconds and then he bounced off…I had just blown the opportunity at a massive whitetail!
Need less to say, that was the day I switched from a one pin sight to a four pin sight.
The season came, the rut passed, and that was my only sighting of ‘Too Close’. Full-on hunter depression was engulfing me.
In December of that year, we got the call from the local game warden that no hunter wants to hear…ultimately a hunter’s worst nightmare.
During the doe season of 2009, ‘Too Close” was poached, at night, by some young local kid. To this day, it was one of the most deflating hunting experiences of my life.
We had hunted so hard, and put so much effort into this whitetail. The idea of him being poached was almost unfathomable.
But in the end, it taught me very valuable lessons about not only hunting, but life.
I am thankful for the incredible hunts, lessons and the amazing pursuit of the incredible whitetail know as “Too Close”.