By Josh McGowan
I had an epiphany over the weekend I’d like to share. Killing a big, mature buck seems to inspire in me the same feeling of excitement and adulation from my friends and family that winning a fishing tournament does, with one glaring difference. After winning a fishing tournament, someone cuts you a big check, after killing a big buck, you cut a big check! The old trip to the taxidermist, it’s a bittersweet thing to do, having to give your prized trophy away only a day after getting it, not to see it again for months, of course it still beats the heck out of not having to go at all! I did some shopping around, and McMullin’s Taxidermy in Essex, Missouri had not only the best deal by $150, but also the fastest approximate finish date by a few months, it was a no-brainer!
I am always hunting for a big, mature buck, but in order to balance the herd, we take a lot of does as well, not to mention my freezer had been void of venison for a few months! About an hour before dark on my first afternoon, a plump doe eased out of the woods and came directly under my stand. I let her pass underneath me and out into the field, and made a noise to stop her at 20 yards. I let an arrow fly and it found its’ mark. After giving her the obligatory 30 minutes, I got down and began looking for my arrow and blood. I found neither. I went to the last place I saw her in the woods, and found spotty blood, and it was getting dark fast. We decided to back out in case the shot was not as good as I’d thought, and come back in the morning to find her. This is common practice on deer that are shot near dark.
As we were getting in the truck, we heard coyotes yelling out in the night, and could only hope they wouldn’t find her before we did. We got back to the woods the next morning, and were greeted with a few hundred crows squawking and diving to the ground in a dense thicket. It was an ominous sign, and rather than trying to get on the blood trail again, we went straight to where the crows were 100 yards away, and there was what was left of my doe after the coyotes and crows got her. The shot was good and she expired fast, but the arrow went in high on one side and hit her shoulder on the other without exiting, which caused the lack of a blood trail. It was very unfortunate.
We bow hunted the next few days and I had deer within range every hunt, but they were all small bucks. Saturday morning opened Missouri’s rifle season, and I moved to a new area on our Lewis County farm. None of the neighbors bow hunt, so with the warm temperatures and the high south wind, we depended on new pressure from all sides to move the deer, namely the big bucks, into our farm, full of safe thickets.
At 8:47 am, I was standing up in my ladder stand scanning all directions, and down in the creek bottom I saw an enormous body heading my way. After he cleared the brush around the bottom, I saw his rack and became a little “excited”. I put the old .270 bolt action on him, and squeezed the trigger. Needless to say he didn’t have to be blood trailed!
My buddy Lance Penn went and got the Rhino and came over to help me get him out, and we heard a shot come from the direction of where Scott was hunting. We waited for a minute, and he came across the radio saying he had killed one as well, and to head his way! We were hunting on opposite sides of an 80 acre farm, and killed two big Missouri whitetails 30 minutes apart. They were both 10 pointers, mature deer, and each field dressed 180+ lbs. It was a great opening day!
There are more pictures and some video from the trip at www.joshgowanoutdoors.com.