I love big antlers and if you ever visit my house you’ll immediately see my antler fascination. Still, during hunting season you can’t always find the buck with the biggest antlers. If I can’t find a giant (and I’m often in that circumstance) I try and hunt for mature deer.
That was the case while hunting a favorite ranch of mine in South Dakota. I knew there was always the chance of spotting a monster buck, but for the past several years my friends and I had passed on a mature 3x4 buck with a nice frame. I decided if I couldn’t find a giant, I’d put the chase on Papa whitetail.
Papa turned out to be a worthy quarry. Even though he was a player and captured often on trail camera, he wasn’t a pushover. In fact, while scouting the ranch earlier I only caught a glimpse of him once and at long range.
When I had my rifle in hand I decided the best plan was to stay in his zip code and hope sooner than later we’d come face to face. I stuck to that plan, but as the hunt was winding down I felt I may have put too much faith in my strategy.
Finally, in the last hours of the hunt I caught a glimpse of the old guy sneaking in some willows while pursuing does. I pointed his location to my cameraman Lonnie Garland and prepared for some fast shooting. My Nikon spotting scope confirmed it was Papa buck and I steadied my TC Pro Hunter on my Harris Bipod.
Lonnie gave me the nod to take the shot and I took a second to place the crosshairs for the 286-yard shot.
The shot was true and a few minutes later I was standing over a buck with an estimated age of 6 ½ years or older. It made for a great show to target one buck and successfully complete the goal.
Sorry old timer, it’s time for retirement.