November 13, 2009
Hurteau: Help Me Score This Buck
By Dave Hurteau
A guest post from Special Projects Editor (and Field Notes News Blogger) Dave Hurteau.
I know. It’s not the greatest photo. But it was the best I could do from a treestand, in low light, as the buck cruised by on the heels of a doe.
Last night I returned from an 8-day bowhunt in southern Iowa with F&S Whitetail columnist Scott Bestul. We had a mission: Kill a 150-inch buck. On November 6th, the third day of the trip, with the rut kicking in, we hung a stand in a pinch point between thick doe bedding cover along the edge of a standing corn field. That afternoon, I ... ... staked a subdominant buck decoy about 15 yards off the stand in a small opening in the otherwise thick hedge pasture, then climbed up to my perch.
Before long, a yearling 8-pointer cruised in from my left, spotted the fake and moved closer, slowly circling the decoy as a snapped a few pictures.
All was quite after that until about a half hour before dark when I heard hurried steps to my left and saw a mature doe running toward the pinch point, looking harried. She spotted the decoy, balked for a moment, then blew through at 10 yards. I thought, “Here we go.” And there he was—a big-bodied buck dogging in the doe’s footsteps, showing lots of bone between the brush and branches. As I drew my bow, he spotted the decoy and stopped dead. Every hair on his body stood up and he started slowly circling the deke in a wide arc, first along the far side, then round to the near, and eventually straight downwind of the imposter, not 5 yards from the base of my tree.
That’s when I decided.
I let down, and quietly reached into my backpack for my camera. So my question to you is--considering that the goal was 150 inches and this was the third day of the hunt—did I make the right decision? Am I nuts? Go ahead, I can take it (I think). But here's one thing to consider. The blur of the camera makes the buck look like he could be a 10-pointer. He’s isn’t. I had plenty of time to count tines. He’s a straight 8.
Anyway, that said, what do you think he scores? If you were shooting for a 150, would you be shooting?