Once in a lifetime
Really, once in many PA hunters' lifetimes.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to follow this deer for three years and learned more than I can begin to explain. The memories created while hunting him will burn in me for the rest of my life and it is truly why I do this. Harvesting him was just the exclamation point.
I picked him up in velvet in August of 2014 as what I believed to be a 3.5 YO. This is as far back as I can identify him. I had two encounters with him that season (11/11 and 11/14) and elected to let him walk. He managed to survive and really add some inches in 2015. I picked him up again in velvet in the same area and knew he was a deer I wanted to try and kill. After lots of pictures, I finally had an encounter on 11/10. I watched him tend a hot doe for 90 minutes. He was inside 35 yards twice, but never offered a good shot. That was the last I saw of him in person or on camera in 2015. Fast forward to July this summer. I got my first pictures of him 7/9 and decided then I would target only this deer this season. I spent a lot of time listening to various podcasts (Wired2Hunt, Midwest Whitetail, and The Hunting Beast - I recommend all three) along with a lot of reading to learn more about mature buck tendencies. After a lot of scouting and summer prep, I had may first encounter with him on 10/24 on a 1/4 acre "kill plot". He came in 5 minutes after legal light and fed to 22 yards, but I did not attempt a shot. After a second encounter out of range on 11/5, I had another low light encounter on 11/7 at 35 yards, again no shot was taken. On veterans day I had the encounter of a lifetime, watching him tend and breed a doe multiple times over a 7 hour period. I had two more encounters with him while scouting between archery and open firearms. On 11/28 he came within 50 yards, but never offered a shot. He finally gave me the opportunity I waited so long for on 12/2, chasing two fawns in a cut corn field. He grossed 164 5/8 with approximately 5" broken off at what I believe a 5.5 year old. Truly an experience of a lifetime.
If you look at the picture of his main beams, you can still see the slight bend in the left main beam. I am guessing he had some type of injury to it 2014 and it never fully straightened out.
Stay positive and be thankful for all that you have.