Patience gets the buck

Most deer hunters know the relief of seeing a nice buck after consecutive days spent in stands without seeing an antler.

When Jason Buschbom looked across a field and saw a buck the evening of Nov. 20, he was relieved because he was seeing a buck he'd been thinking about for more than a year.

"There was no doubt it was him because of the sticker (points) off the back of his rack," said Buschbom. "That's not a rack you ever really forget."

Such can be said for most deer that gross about 205 inches of antler.

Buschbom, 32, first encountered the buck on an October bowhunt last year in Unit 6. He was hunting where cover narrowed and was using an antlered decoy to help draw any passing buck within bow range.

It was getting late and the long-time bowhunter was halfway down his ladder when he heard a buck grunt. He hustled back up and readied his bow.

As the buck passed his stand, he could see long sticker points sticking out the back of the buck's second tines on both sides.

Three times Buschbom watched the trophy-class buck circle his decoy. Finally the big whitetail lowered its head and charged the decoy, sending plastic parts flying in several directions.

But all the hunter could do was watch.

"He was at 12 yards, but I couldn't see my (sight) pins," Buschbom said. "I figured I could hit him but I didn't want to take a chance on just wounding him. I hoped I'd get another chance."

He saw the buck again in late December and found one of the deer's shed antlers in February. Trail cameras got photos of the buck during the summer and early fall.

Buschbom figured he had the buck Halloween morning as it followed a doe close to his stand near the Saline River.

"For five hours I'd watched him chasing other bucks away from a doe," he said. "I was ready to sit all day. When she finally walked by I figured he couldn't get by without giving me a good shot."

But instead of sticking to the same trail used by the doe, the big buck dropped to the river's edge. All Buschbom could do was see the tips of wide antlers as the buck walked by.

There were no trail camera photos or sightings of the buck for three weeks. In fact, Buschbom wasn't seeing much of anything on consecutive long sits.

At sundown on Nov. 20, Buschbom saw several does run into a field about 150 yards away. Not far behind was the buck he'd been after for many months.

Some work with a grunt call lured the buck to within 20 yards. Buschbom made a good hit on a buck that fell within sight.

The buck's typical frame grosses 185 inches of antler. It has about 20 inches of non-typical points added on.

But while he found the buck of his dreams, he'd lost something important.

"When I'd walked into the stand that afternoon my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket," Buschbom said with a laugh. "I'd just shot the biggest buck I'd ever seen and I couldn't call my friends and family and tell them about it."

He walked to a nearby house, borrowed a cell phone and retraced his steps, dialing his number until he heard his phone ringing.

When he called his family and said he'd shot a buck his wife screamed in delight.

"She knew I wasn't going to shoot any buck if it wasn't that one big buck," Buschbom said. "It was a pretty happy time for all of us."