We had been seeing him for several years and knew the approximate location of his “core” area.
His “ranging” area was wide, and we found his very distinctive scrapes and rubs over a large part of the hunting lease.
He was the buck that everyone in our club wanted to bag. He proved to be an opponent of great skill, for after all, we were hunting him in the area where he was the master.
The master taught some of us lessons that we will never forget. His core area was filled with deep ravines bounded with steep mountains. Those mountains caused swirling and fickle air currents that would give away the most skilled of our hunters.
Food plots, scent lures, rattling, feeders and stand placement all seemed futile. The master was truly the master of his core area.
Some of our hunters had went into the area specifically to hunt him.
Most never saw him. Some were even crowded out of the area by a black bear and her cubs.
The area was difficult to get in to and any kind of weather made it extremely hard to get to.
Our hunters would trade stories about their experiences of hunting him. These campfire stories would be told over and over. Suggestions of various strategies were the subject over many cups of coffee.
The extremely steep terrain even caused physical changes to the old buck, as evidenced by his tracks. When he walked on the steep mouintainsides, the outside half of his split hoof was constantly tapping against rocks. This caused wear on that hoof half, so his track was readily recognizable. The inside half actually curled around the end of the outside half when he left a track on level ground.
He preferred making scrapes on a certain “blue line” or hardwood filled streamside. His rubs were always on the same type of sappling. He preferred the softer more aromatic of trees to rub on, always of larger diameter than other bucks in the area.
His antler span was wide, as was visible when he was rubbing a tree where a nearby tree would have incidental marks on them.
For some reason, no one ever caught his image on a game camera, yet the few sightings by hunters kept the whole hunt club buzzing.
When one of the club elders stated that he was the largest deer he had ever seen in this area, it had meaning for many.
In the tale after tale around the campfires, he had became simply, “big boy”.
Some of our club members work for a local mining company that borders the hunting lease. These members always had sightings to report, adding to the mistique and legend of big boy.
It wasn’t a hunter, or any crafty ploy. Not a technique or a stand placement that did it.
It was the rut. Plain and simple, it was the old bucks inner urge that drove the old buck out into the haul road in the mine area. A 100 ton dump truck can’t stop on a dime, and the old buck didn’t either.
We are all talking about old big boy again. But mostly we are going to miss him, knowing that he is not there changes things somehow.
We had hunted him for six years . . . , say ! I wonder just how many sons and grandsons he has out there ?
In the photo the antlers, taped togather for measuring, are held by Tom Green. All of the antlers was not recovered. If the antlers were symetrical they would have scored 176 on the BTR system.