Scott Smolen is a whitetail addict who, like many of us, grew up reading about the Benoits, the legendary tracking family from Vermont. Smolen, a treestand bowhunter from Wisconsin, struck up a friendship with Larry Benoit–the family patriarch–several years back. The two kept in touch and bonded over whitetails and deer hunting even though their methods differ vastly.
Not long ago, Benoit admitted to Smolen that advancing age kept him from taking up a buck’s track and walking him down like he had in the old days. Last spring, at the Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo, Smolen invited Benoit to come and hunt his Wisconsin farm, where sitting in stands and blinds is the preferred method. Benoit accepted, and arrived at the Smolen farm on Nov. 16 with son Lanny in tow.
Looking forward to hosting one of his hunting heroes, Smolen had been sending trail cam photos to the Benoits throughout the summer and fall. Of the 30 bucks in those photos, one grabbed Benoit’s attention: a chocolate-horned 10-point with a drop tine. “That’s the buck I want when I come,” Benoit told him.
On the fifth day of the hunt, Smolen was sitting with Benoit in a blind overlooking a cut cornfield when Benoit spotted a deer in the timber. Smolen glassed the whitetail and told his guest it was a good buck and he should be ready to shoot. Benoit dropped the buck with a single shot from his .270, and when the pair walked up to the buck, Smolen realized immediately that it was the drop-tine buck Benoit had admired all summer.
“It was a style of hunting he clearly wasn’t used to, but Larry seemed to really enjoy himself,” Smolen says. “It was a neat experience to host them in our home, and I had such a great time sitting in the blind with Larry; he was more fun and entertaining than I imagined he’d be.”