When you hunt smaller pieces of land, it is hard to develop a relationship with your deer. Most of the time, they are transient members of your farm - passing through for a season, chasing a doe or just meandering through. I buck's range is wide, often with a notable distance between his summer patterns and winter patterns. There are exceptions, however, and Pencil is one of them. My first encounter with this deer occurred in the preseason of 2009. I was scouting our farm in Chelsea with one of my younger brothers, Tanner, and we jumped him bedded down in the middle of our pasture. We each had several encounters with him, but already decided he needed at least 2 more years before he was ready. We named him "Pencil" because his tines look like they could be sawed off, sharpened up, and turned into a classroom accessory. These are a few pictures of him as a 2 1/2 year old:
Compared to other 2 1/2 year olds in the area, Pencil was the buck with the most potential. Nothing to get your heart racing, but c'mon, its Alabama we are talking about. So I put up the cameras a little early last summer, and here is the progression of Pencil heading into his 3rd year:
At this point, I was a little disappointed. He was putting on a little more mass, but still not very impressive. I waited a month, ran the cameras again, and came back with these:
Not bad. My one concern for next year will be the brow tines. If he ends up being a 4 1/2 year old without respectable brow-tines, I am not sure how much the wait will be worth. Hopefully, he will add 15-20 more inches, grow brow tines, and maybe peak out at 135. A buck isn't fully mature until 5 1/2, but my neighbor mentioned seeing this buck a few times, and I will be damned if he kills Pencil before me. I do know, however, that he made it through the season. I sat on the edge of the pasture the last day of the season and watched him walk through the back corner right at daylight. Pencil, steer clear of roads and rednecks and we will finally meet next year!
This buck will probably never be seen, but he is - by FAR - the largest deer I have ever had on any of my farms (in Alabama). He received this name because he has got lots of it, and, well, gives any self-respecting hunter an eyeful of it too. Notice the abnormal point growing out of the base of his left main beam, the sweeping main beams, and the kicker off the right g2. Awesome, awesome, awesome deer.
No pictures of this deer, and, in fact, I have never seen this deer. This deer, however, should already be dead. Just ask Brinck. Deuces calls Estill, South Carolina home, and we first became aware of him in September of last year. Brinck missed Deuces, a mainframe 8 with matching, double droptines, at 19 yards. Yep, 19. One of Brinck's cousins had an encounter with the deer later in the season, but wasn't able to get a shot. Trust me, if any of us takes down Deuces next year, you will read about him. A lot.
4. Dre #1 and Dre #2
Once again, no pics, but two encounters by two hunters in the same day. These are the two bucks you read about in Doemania, Part One. The same bucks Andrew watched duke it out, and the same two bucks Andre missed 10 minutes apart. From what we can tell, through the collaborated stories, one of the bucks was probably a 3 1/2 year old 8 pt, and Andre was 95% sure the second buck was a 10, either a 3 1/2 or 4 1/2 year old. Should be great deer, but I have absolutely zero record with these deer and never caught them on a camera.
5. All of the Deer in Illinois.
6. "Backyard Buck"
My folks live in a neighborhood in Birmingham, Al, less than 4 miles from downtown. Literally, the largest stretch of continuous woods might be 3 acres, and that is pushing it. I grew up in the neighborhood as well, and while I saw the occasional deer, I never thought twice about it. Not until I got a frantic call from both of my brothers this Christmas claiming they had almost hit a buck pulling into our driveway. Did I believe them? Not really. Did I put up a trail-cam anyway? You betcha. Meet the "Backyard Buck."
P.S. I cannot stress to you how big of a surprise this is. My folks literally live IN the city. This camera is less than 200 yards from my front porch, and about 35 yards away from a house with 4 kids.
7. "Funky Chicken"
Ok, so this buck is, well, challenged. At least we think he is. This is another backyard buck, and something just ain't quite right. He never shed his velvet, has the ugliest rack I have ever laid eyes on, and is the Michael Jordan of deer tongues. Deer like this need to be shot just for being so damn ugly.
"The Great 8"
This is the buck on our farm in Clinton, SC that I have the most history with. I passed him as a two and a half year old in "Cory's Stand" with a doe eating acorns.
Then again as a 3.5 year old in the "Alley," where he had put on quite a bit of width and tine length to boot. At this point, I figured this was a killable deer after seeing him two years in a row in a similar area, so I hoped I would encounter him again the next season.
My last day of the season in Clinton, I had an encounter with this buck as a 4.5 year old. I decided to pass on him because it was the last day of the season and I figured he would survive. He did, however, made this difficult. He walked broadside at twenty yards then walked straight to me giving me a eye ball full of antlers at 7 yards. 19-20 inch inside spread. 4-5 inch brows. 8 inch G'2s and 6-7 inch G'3s... putting him around 115" as a four year old. I didnt get to snap a picture of him this time, but I do have a trail cam photo of him as a 4.5 year old.
I was hopeful that I would encounter this buck this past season as a 5.5 yr old. If I did, you would see photos of me holding his horns, but, of course, no such luck. My trail camera broke as well, so I dont have any photos of him, but I have the privilege of knowing most of my neighbors and I did not hear of anyone around me shooting a 5.5 year old 8 pointer. If he grew as much as he did the years previous he would be pushing Pope and Young status. I am just hopeful that he survived the season and he will show up this coming season as a 6.5 year old.
So that about wraps up our Hit List for next year. As always, most of these bucks will live. And probably, we will run into a few bucks I have never laid eyes on before. The most important deer of the 7 on the hit list is #5, Illinois. As well as we know some of these deer on this list, you just can't beat hunting in the midwest.
The following are a few of the younger bucks that will need at least two more years before they are shootable. But, if you are anything like us, looking at deer is the best way to pass time. Enjoy!