By Timber Hawk Pro Staffer, Jim Miller
We arrived at Oak Creek Ranch, late last night. It came one heck of a Rain Storm with at least 2 inches of rain and lots of wind, with Tornados in the area. As a cold front was moving thru and all of you do know it always rains when I go to Oak Creek Ranch to hunt. The temperature had dropped drastically by 40 degrees from yesterday mid day!
With the temperature having dropped I knew the hunting was going to be great, the fall colors of the Ozarks were beautiful with all of the oranges, gold’s, reds, purples, and intermittent cedar the hillsides were beyond compare, spectacular! We’ve come to Oak Creek Ranch at the perfect time. I grabbed my bow and arrows and went out to make sure my bow was shooting where it’s suppose to and enjoying the great weather. Of course I also had to do my visitation with all of the guides and especially Cleat.Sallen, who’s been my guide since day one of hunting Oak Creek Ranch and we talked for a couple of hours about the hunting on the ranch all of the different Monster bucks he had been seeing. All I had to do now was sit around and oogle and ogle over the monster bucks in the trophy room of Oak Creek Ranch.
We were going to “Cody’s” stand moving along an old logging road, as we approached the huge food plot, we ran off a number of deer, we hustled up, crawled into a Double Seat Ladder Stand, with a hang on stand above us for the cameraman. We had not been in the tree stand 30 minutes when we had a really great buck out in front of us on the food plot feeding without a care in the world; this buck fed all around us but was a young buck and not a shooter. Was not long, we had a huge 10 pointer to walk under our stand he was feeding on akerns along the timbers edge, in less than an hour we had already seen 2 really great young bucks. We was sitting along the edge of the food plot, in the timber, we heard a deer walking behind us, turning to looking down into the huge hollow we spotted a huge 9 pointer walking with his head down thru the timber. What an afternoon watching all of the bucks to travel thru the area. Let me tell you it was really fun watching all of the bucks to come in, the evening hunt was over before we knew it! We had seen six different bucks, but not what we was looking for, but it was really a great evening. No Shots Taken. That evening, we had a new camp cook as Ms. Pauline was in poor health, but this gentleman could really cook especially deserts! No chance to lose weight on this hunt. We had several bowhunters in from Florida, I had hunted with them before and great bunch of guys and great bowhunters.
The Morning was really dreary with lots of cold wind, swirling, misting rain, and the deer were not moving that well. Early in the morning we seen several attack helicopters flying in formation headed for Fort Leonard Wood which is about 50 miles from the ranch. A nice short distraction. We also seen a real stud of a shooter, but he never came close to us as he was feeding completely across the 5 acre food plot. The morning was a drag, it was cool and damp, thank goodness that I was wearing my Gamehide Grid Lock suit which kept the wind and heavy mist off of me. We seen a total of 5 bucks but nothing was close for a shot and they were not interested in the Grunt tube, rattling horns or the 4-play I had put out from Timber Valley scents. We returned to the ranch had a huge breakfast then time to do some target practice, this is one item most bowhunters forget to do, is shoot their bows during a hunting trip. KEEP YOUR SHOOTING MUSCLES loose and ready.
Cleat came in around 1:30 PM and advised that it was time to “Saddle up” the deer were moving. We got our gear ready was out in 15 minutes on our way back to the 5 acre food plot another evening hunt, we approached the food plot cautiously, nothing was in the field. We went immediately to the Ladder stand and before I crawled into the stand I put out some of the Timber Valley 4-play. It was not long before we had a large number of doe and fawns to start moving into the food plot. It was almost an hour before we seen a buck then the Bull of the Woods, the largest buck I’ve ever seen came out of the wood work. This was a major 300 class buck, I’ve hunted Oak Creek Ranch for four years and I had never seen one of these monsters that roam the Ozark hardwoods! This buck had so much calcium that he walked with a tilt in his head the rack a sure sign of “Way Too Much Calcium” this buck was all over the food plot running with his nose on the ground looking for a hot doe! The wind was wrong for the buck to smell the “Timber Valley 4-Play” finally he moved out away from us, never really picked up the smell of the Doe in Estrus. Strangely all of the other deer left the field when this buck came out. After a short break we had several small bucks (4-to be exact) come into the food plot they were feeding in this very bad weather, misting rain, wind, heavy overcast. These bucks went straight to a Persimmon Motte gorging on the Persimmons, plus there were several Honey Locus trees close to the Persimmon Motte the bucks were also gorging on the big brown honey locus beans on the ground. Carbing up for the winter. By this time we have seen several shooter bucks but nothing was coming near us. After about 20 minutes we had several different bucks to walk in front of and behind our tree stand but no shots as in each instance when I could shoot the cameraman could not get same on film and then when I could not shoot the cameraman had the deer on film, frustration was building as the evening was getting worse. Around a quarter after 5 we had a good buck to come in from behind us, Cleat looked at the buck and stated, “Shooter Buck” I picked up my Mathews Helim bow, as I waited for the buck to come out of the timber behind us then the buck walked out to my left, feeding into the food plot. I drew my Helim back as the buck walked into the shooting lane, you know it, always the buck stopped short of the opening , leaving his head, neck and shoulder exposed, all he had to do was take one more step and I could put an arrow thru the boiler room but no he stopped short. The buck put his head down feeding on some forbs; I was at full draw, then leaning out for a couple of inches to place the pin right behind the shoulder squeezing the trigger on my release. I immediately felt a sharp pain in my left knee, I heard a loud smack! The arrow hitting the buck, but the pain in my left knee was immense, as if someone had hit me in the knee cap with a ball ping hammer! My bottom cam had come in contact with my knee then threw the arrow hard left I had that “OH NO shot! I knew immediately that this was not going to be good! The buck took off running taking huge leaps and bounds across the food plot for about 50 yards then came to a full stop. I picked up my Brunton Epoch 10.5 X 43’s started looking at the buck standing in the middle of the field , had blood just pouring out of the entrance side and on the off side my arrow was hanging out by the fletching. As the buck stood there bleeding, with his tail switching, head down with feet planted to the ground I had a pure absolute liver and gut shot! I also knew the buck was in deep trouble as the broadhead I shoot for whitetails is the Grim Reaper / Mathew’s Edition 3 blade / 2 inch cut with a chisel point, deadly on any shot taken, great, good or bad. The buck stood for about 5 minute, bleeding constantly then just started that slow walk away from us, with blood pouring out of the right side of the body, head down and that tail clamped down hard to his body. Time was on my side. When the buck entered the timber on the far side of the food plot, I told Cleat it was 5:30 PM lets get down mark the blood trail and come back tomorrow morning and the tracking would be short and sweet. Remember bowhunters, if you know for sure you have a gut or liver shot, back off and wait at least 10 hours or over night as the buck will bed down and die from paranytis (parasitic infection), that’s terrible but the alternative is worse if you jump the deer and push him he will go till he drops usually it will be near or in water! When you recover the animal. So we left, to return the next morning.
We returned to the area. Picked up the blood trial immediately from where the arrow was laying on the ground it was covered in dark red blood and some fecal matter! We just walked following the blood trial “as if someone had a spigot wide open with blood pouring out everywhere on the entrance side (Right side of the animal). We followed the trail to where the buck had stood in the middle of the field there was a blood pool as big around as my cowboy hat! Then the blood continued another 100 yards at the edge of the timber across the food plot another pool of blood, we continued to follow the trail down into a ravine where there was an open spring and we lost the blood trail into the small creek, I knew the buck was moving down hill we continued to follow the creek for about 100 yards further down into the creek lay the buck dead. Remember, on any Big Game animal with a body cavity hit that is into the liver and or paunch give them at least 8 hours before you start blood trailing, your trophy of a life time will be recoverable! By the way the buck has a 5 X 5 main frame with 24 score able points. Official SCI score of 216 inches. A buck of a lifetime.