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My purpose in writing this is to share my personal thoughts and feelings about how I changed from a deer hunter to a big buck hunter. Before I go one more word, this choice is not right for everyone, and those who choose a different path, or a same path, it doesn't matter, so long as we hunt legally. But, I just feel like sharing this story. I wish I could have read it back in the day when I was thinking about something different.

All of my buddies had a lot more experience than me, a lot more opportunity than me, but they didn't have any more willpower or motivation than me. After a while, I wanted nothing more (in hunting) than a bit PA whitetail on the wall. I'm not even sure why. My hunting buddies did not have big egos or push me in that direction, but something about those nice big antlers (for PA) just captured me. I wanted a "wall hanger" badly, for reasons I'm still not sure why. But, as the seasons came, I'd always shoot the first legal thing that walked by.

Fortunately for me, my new friends were very experienced bow hunters, and (darn them) they got me addicted. I began to learn new and more importantly, different ways of hunting. I saw more deer, I watched more deer, and I just wanted more.

I passed a very small buck on the opening morning of 2001 bow season, never killed a buck with a bow, and never had let a legal buck go by before. So this was a new experience for me. I hunted hard, with very bad luck, the rest of the season. Finally on the last day, cold, tired, cranky, and almost out of hope, I got up one more time to hunt. Believe it or not, the same small 5-point I passed on Day One (this was the year before AR) came past me. Right underneath me. I took the shot and watched the brush tremble and heard the crash not 20 yards away. It turns out I severed one of the main arteries coming out of the boiler room and it was a trail that Stevie Wonder (no disrespect intended) could have followed.

I stumbled and bumbled about through the first years of AR. I had some decent bucks close, but they were half-racks, odd-shaped, or didn't mean the AR regs. I shot a typical PA 1-1/2 year old 7-point on the first day of rifle season in 2004, literally within sight of my house. I had "done it all" with the gun, killed a few with a bow, and now I needed something else.

On the opening morning of 2005, I was sitting high in a tree in an area where I had found, literally, nearly 4 dozen fresh rubs the weekend before. Before daylight, a huge group of deer moved past in the darkness. No lie, at least 10. Okay, I thought, they are in the thicket, it was a good call to hunt there and it might be a good evening spot.

Just after decent light, I hear some shuffling to my left and behind me. I turn in my seat to see nothing but antlers. Huge buck! I stand up, but he's already past me.

Nearly ready to pass out from excitement and "oh crap" syndrome, I reach for my grunt tube, in the left-thigh pocket of my pants, out of almost sheer desperation. I hit it once, twice, third time's the charm, right? The woods go dead silent.

I wait, heart pumping, shaking. A minute. Maybe two. Where did he go? Suddenly a movement! It's an ear! He's standing right out in front of me, 30 yards max, still as a lawn ornament. Then, HE STARTS COMING BACK! Looking for the lesser buck that DARED grunt at him on his home turf. He's walking right at me now, oh my gosh stop looking at the rack! He comes within 10 yards, and suddenly he's not all big and bad, looking for a battle. His body language changes from "I'm gonna whup ya!" to "what's going on here?" He turns to leave but steps right into one of my shooting lanes. String comes back effortlessly, I could easily pull 80 or more pounds at this moment. He's walking slowly away, green pin is on the vitals at 17 yards and ZING! He lights out of there like he was hit with 220 volts. I was so focused on the pin and follow through, I think I see the hit, I hear the CRACK of the rib, but I just dare don't believe it.

I climb down, shaking (kept the harness on), and gather my stuff. I dare don't leave the tree, do I? I call a buddy, he's like, "are you serious?" I call the wife and wake her up. I look at the shot site, then I see the arrow 20 feet up the trail, 80% covered in good blood. I go back and sit at the base of the tree for 30 minutes, still shaking. Fortunately, I get most of my buck fever after the fact.

I finally can't stand it and start tracking, so alert that it's scary. I'm on each and every drop. For some reason, I look up and there he is, on his side, not 40 yards from the shot.

I'm all alone, and it's quiet except for the songbirds. He's magnificent, all 9 points, 19 inches wide, tall, symmetrical except for the little kicker on the right antler. I just sat down and was very quiet for I don't even know how long. In that spot under the oaks and poplars, I changed forever. I just looked and looked, and could not believe that this buck was mine. Ten minutes into it in the opener, to boot.

The rest, as they say, is history. I changed my standards then and there. I started letting little bucks walk, and since then I've put two more on the wall. Am I an expert? No. Do I try hard? Yes.

Some of you out there will read this and think "Hey, that could be me he's describing." Yes, it can be you.

If you've hunted a long time, and maybe not have gotten The Big One, but think about it often, you can do it. Let that average one walk. You'll find out that this in itself is pretty cool. You may want to kick yourself for doing it, but don't. Hang tough.

That nice 9-point is right behind me right now, and so are the others. When I walk into my family room by myself sometimes, I can still hear those birds and smell the woods, the leaves, the dirt, all of it. I can remember the other bucks just as vividly, but nothing in hunting can compare to that day.

Besides my kids being born and the day the lovely Mrs. DethFrumAbuv indeed took the vows to be my wife, ain't too much that can reach inside one's self like that.

So if you think you're looking for something a bit more in your deer hunting career, try the Go Big or Go Home tactic. It will change your hunting, but it also might also change you.
 

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Fortunately, I get most of my buck fever after the fact.

Me too, that's the best time to get it


Great story. Thanks!

A trophy, to me, is determined by the hunt more than it is the headgear.
 

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a trophy to me is is determined by the hunt and the headgear....nothing in hunting gets me excited like seeing huge antlers moving through the woods....end of story.
 

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i'm a deer hunter and if/when one that has head gear gives me a shot i'll take it....i'm not hooked on antlers like some hunters are obsessed with them, all i can see a use fer them in a food situation is stirring my venison stew with them
....life is way too stressful to stress bout antlers.............bob

....
 

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Nice story man! I am not a trophy hunter but I have put a
couple good bucks on the wall. One 133 class 9 pointer and
a good 7 pointer also, didn't score him. Like any hunter
the big racks excite me and I am happy with the AR we have
in place now(well I think it should be 3 pts to each side)
but like I said I am not a trophy hunter. I like shooting
a nice doe almost as much as a buck! I am a deer hunter
plain and simple. That doesn't mean that I don't scout and
often hunt a spot that just screams big buck sign but I
find joy in shooting a deer regardless of it's antler size.
The trophy is in the eye of the beholder!
 

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Bravo....that was good read.
 

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I shoot doe for meat , and bucks over 16" wide. that's just my preference. what somebody else shoots does not concern me. as long as that hunter is happy, that's all that matters.
 

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GREAT POST!!! Everyone on HPA should read it!! This story might just changes some of the hearts and minds of hunters in this great state!!
 

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great posts, once you get the big one under your belt it seems to help you hold off on the little ones, i have two deer on the wall in only 7 years of huninng, this year i am in college and its hard to find any time at all, until im out my standerds have lowerd to shooting the first legal buck i can, but right when im back to having more time to hunt ill be hunting the big boys once again
 

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I am not looking for negative response but I am very selective in Archery but not as much in rifle. I have passed on 2 eights this year.
 
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