Golden Opportunity

COLUMN-HEAD

Sponsored by: Black Eagle Arrows & Grim Reaper Broadheads

By: Brian Knightlinger

The hunting community has changed greatly over the past few years. Many people are adapting to change, yet others still want to fight any new changes. Whether it is the use of crossbows, AR’s, or the constant debate over low fence and high fence preserves. Hunters are quick to judge others for hunting by legal and ethical means. It is safe for me to say, I was one of those hunters for many years. What changed? I was given the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and hunt in some new places. Things aren’t always what they seem!

Recently, I had the opportunity to head to Southern Ohio and hunt whitetails at Tusk n Tines Outfitters. I had hunted Russian Boars and Spanish Goats before, and Coby Jent had invited me to hunt whitetails on his 400 acre preserve. Coby is a deer farmer and has some amazing genetics in his herd. I decided to take him up on his offer and hunt whitetail deer in October of 2016.

I communicated with Coby through the summer and into the early fall. Most of our conversations were about my back injury and if I was going to be able to come in October and hunt. Earlier in the summer, I had an accident and hurt my back. I had 3 bulging discs and two fractures in my lower back. I spent many days at physical therapy and many evenings at home doing therapy so I could make it to my scheduled hunt.

In late September, I was given the all clear to travel to hunt whitetails. I spent the next two weeks making sure my Black Eagle Zombie Slayers were flying well. I practiced each night with the Zombie Slayers tipped with Grim Reaper practice heads. What a sweet partnership that proved to be. The arrows flew amazingly well out of my Mathews Halon 6. My groups at 60 yards were tight and consistent. How would they hold up on a big whitetail? I couldn’t wait to find out!

Friday, October 7th finally arrived and I was super excited to leave for Tusk n Tines. After teaching all day and kissing my family goodbye, I made the 5 hour drive to Latham, Ohio. Coby and one of his guides, Lee, met me and helped me get settled into the lodge. We spent the evening talking about deer and hunting we have done in the past. The weather for the next day was to be in the 60 ´s with a 15-20 mph wind. Lee said we would sit in some stands for the morning. Coby showed me some pictures of some of the deer in his preserve. There were some very impressive deer roaming the hollows of his place. Coby also explained that there were Painted Rams, Corsican Rams, 4 Horned Sheep, and Fallow Deer. Lee mentioned we would see Russian Boars all day as they constantly moved around the 400 acres. I was getting tired and 5:45 am was going to arrive quickly. I went to the lodge and went to sleep.

My alarm woke me at 5:45 am, and I quickly took a shower. I made sure to wash well with my Nature’s Essence Body Wash, so I would be scent free. I dressed in my G-Force Evolved Camo and made sure everything was in my pack. I checked over my arrows to make sure the Grim Reaper Carni-Fours were screwed in all the way. I was excited to hear Lee arrive, and we quickly packed up and rode into the preserve.

Lee led me to a stand on the hillside that overlooked a big ravine. Playing the wind, this looked like a nice spot for deer to come and bed down. The woods started to come alive with hogs squealing and squirrels chattering. The sun was breaking over the trees when I first saw movement. There was a group of deer feeding our way. There were 6 doe and two bucks. The one buck was a yearling and the other was a nice 170 inch deer. This deer had a broken G3 on the right side but he sure was beautiful. Lee and I watched as the deer fed to within 40 yards. I told Lee I was looking for something a little bigger and with more character. We watched as the deer fed over the edge of the ravine and out of sight.

Sitting in the stand, about 10:30 the wind began to pick up and we decided to get down and go back to the lodge. It was an exciting morning hunt and I was hungry for some snacks. Back at the lodge, Coby joined us for some good conversation. Coby answered the many questions I had about being a deer farmer and preserve owner. We discussed topics like CWD and hunter´s attitudes toward businesses like his. Time passed quickly and then it was time for Lee to take me back for the afternoon sit.

We travelled deep into the 400 acres to a nice set of stands in the back of the property. I watched as boars fed along the hillside, flipping over rocks and logs looking for food. There were acorns and hickory nuts all over the place. I saw Painted and Corsican Rams playfully pushing each other around. It was beautiful! The wind was still whipping around at 15-20 mph and the deer seemed to be bedded down. The light was fading in the west as we made our way back to the lodge. The weather for the next day was going to be perfect with lows in the 40? and high in the low 60?.

My alarm noisily woke me at 5:45 am and I went through my same routine prepared for the day. Lee and I met outside and discussed the plan of attack for the morning. He had a set of stands picked out and felt the wind was better for these stands. It was still dark as we quietly walked to the stands. I was anticipating a great morning full of deer movement and action. The deer were still bedded down as we got settled in but everything else was moving around. We had all kinds of action watching rams and hogs run all over the place. The fallow deer were next up and moving through the woods scavenging for acorns. Later we decided to so go back to the lodge for lunch.

For the evening hunt we sat in a set of stands deeper into one of the ravines on the property. It was calm and you could hear every little movement. Lee and I watched as a fox worked through some thick cover looking for prey. We chuckled as it pranced away looking over its shoulder. We saw some deer filtering through eating acorns as they walked and soon they were out of sight. The fallow deer fed directly in front of us at 20 yards. They are beautiful animals and might end up on my bucket list. As night fell we could hear boars fighting in the fading light. It was another exciting day on stand.

It was the third morning of my hunt and so far it had been eventful but no shots taken. I was hoping that this morning would be different. I woke early, showered and was ready when Lee came to the lodge. The temps were in the high 30´s and calm. Lee had a game plan and we were off to a new set of stands. We settled in as light was breaking and I could hear a deer rubbing his antlers in a tree. As the sun grew brighter, I could see a great buck working a tree less than 100 yards away. This was an impressive buck that had a drop tine on his left main beam. He was well over 200 inches and walked with a swagger I had never seen before. He would walk a bit and make a rub and continue. He worked over the ridge and down into a ravine. Lee had a big smile on his face and said, ¨I think this will be the morning.¨

I saw a few other deer that morning and a few came within bow range. Lee had called me off of a few shots as he thought there were better deer still to see. I was beginning to wonder what else could possibly come within range. Lee caught movement and said he saw a great buck bedded by a downed tree. My jaw dropped when I saw what looked like a moose. We just needed to be lucky enough to have him walk our way.

The enormous buck then got up and began walking our way. He had no clue we were even in the area. I had placed some Conquest Evercalm in a few buck cages and hung them around our stand. Our wind was perfect and we were tucked high in a tree that still had many leaves. The buck closed to 45 yards and stopped. He looked at the fallen tree down the ridge and I thought he was going to turn and go there and lay down. He chose not to and began walking on a steady pace to pass the stand at about 25 yards.

I adjusted my stance and put my release on the d-loop. He needed to take two more steps and he would be in the clear. I visualized the shot in my head even before I drew my bow. The buck stepped into the clearing, stopped and looked back over his shoulder. Lee said, ¨ Take your shot!” Like I had done a million times before, I drew, let the pin float behind his shoulder and touched off the release. The arrow found its mark and looked to be a touch forward. I watched as his huge rack went behind trees and he began to stumble. The buck laid down and we watched intently. Lee and I looked at each other as if everything was a dream. I had to sit down. We watched and the deer was not getting up.

We gave him time to make sure he wasn’t getting up but I was speechless as he grew bigger the closer I got to him. When, at last, we stood over this magnificent buck I was amazed at how big his body and rack were. This was by far the biggest deer I had ever killed. Lee and I celebrated and took a bunch of pictures. We looked at video footage and replayed the hunt a few times. My arrow was just a touch forward into the shoulder but it was a mortal shot. We dressed out the deer and talked about the hunt. Lee went back to get the Rhino, so we could load him up as I just kept replaying everything in my head.

Author with a smile and incredible trophy buck.  For Video: Click Image

The buck barely fit in the back of the Rhino. I was amazed at the whole hunt and not only would this buck feed my family, his antlers would decorate my wall.

The 5 hour drive home seemed to take forever. The weather was good and traffic moved swiftly but I was so excited to show my kids the deer I had killed. When I arrived home my two kids swarmed my truck. Their jaws dropped in amazement as they fought over who could hold the deer rack first. Abby won the battle and held the rack in her little hands. Sam held it next and commented on how much mass the deer had. The two of them joined me as I measured the deer to see what he scored. When I was done and the numbers were added up the deer scored 207 ? inches. He is an amazing specimen with an inside spread of 23 6/8 inches and each of the main beams are over 25 inches. He has 15 scorable points and his mass is off the charts.

The experience I had at Tusk n Tines will be one I never forget. The hunting was great, and the amount of animals I saw made it enjoyable. My opinion on the issue of low fence and high fence hunting is very different due to this experience. I learned a ton about deer in general and about how the industry is run. I will be forever grateful to Coby Jent for the hunt of a lifetime. I can only hope that as hunters we can pull together to keep the heritage we have established.

Sponsored by: Black Eagle Arrows & Grim Reaper Broadheads

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