2013 Northern California "My Story"

joehunter8301

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This story began in the fall of 2012. With one tag left during rifle season I located a group of bucks with a unique 4x2 in the group. It was obvious he was an old, mature buck worthy of my second tag. His big body reminded me of a Dump Truck so the name stuck and I was after him. Come one October evening my hunting partner (trkyslr) and I were setup on a trail that led to some lower oak trees that were dropping acorns heavily and was being visited on almost a nightly basis by these bucks. At last light Dump Truck made an appearance with two other bucks and I was able to get an arrow in him. After a long blood trail that dwindled down to nothing I was upset to say the least. I spent a total of a week and over twelve hours in search of his body. It was a huge mystery to both of us as the shot looked perfect and the blood trail was heavy for over 150 yards. A month later during the rut we spotted him twelve miles away rutting some does! It was obvious to tell it was him due to his distinct antler configuration and a bunch of kickers at his bases. Trkyslr and I were in shock that he made it and the fact that he was twelve miles away was mind blowing to us as most these bucks stick to a small home range. "Have to get him next year" I thought to myself....
 
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joehunter8301

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Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I will give you a quick cap on the agreement I had with my buddy trkyslr. Coming off his phenomenal season in 2012 he agreed to let me have first picks of any buck I wanted in 2013. I wasn't gonna let this opportunity get past me. Cameras were up and undoubtedly Dump Truck had returned and appeared healthy as ever. My attention automatically shifted to him, I needed revenge. Also returning was another buck that had my attention we called Thunder. In 2012 Thunder was a mid-120 class 4x4 but showed some major growth from last year. I spent all summer moving several cams, covering every possible trail, trying to figure out where the best possible location for stands would be.
 
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joehunter8301

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We were confident in our knowledge of the deers patterns after watching several trails over the summer getting just enough pictures to try to piece the puzzle of what we thought would be the "perfect setups."
 
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joehunter8301

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Dump Truck had turned into a huge 4xspike. He was bedding on a thick brushy hillside and working his way down to a lower meadow that held lots of forage and feeding all night. I would get pictures of him heading down in the evening and at first light heading up the same trails going to bed in the mornings. Things were looking great and I was optimistic for the opener.
 
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joehunter8301

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Thunder had turned into a beautiful symmetrical 4x4 and as long as I can remember it has been a dream of mine to take a perfect deep forked 4x4 with my bow. This looked to be my crack at filling one of my hunting dreams. He would definately fit the bill.... In this picture here I had 2 cameras about 25 yards apart covering two trails that ran parallel to each other and as he came down the trail both cams triggered, which explains the glow on the far side.
 
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joehunter8301

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Opening night I perched up in my stand with my optimism sky high. The evening was very uneventful until the last 25 minutes of shooting light. A small solo forky emerged from the brush headed down the trail. Ten minutes later a few other bucks appear with Dump Truck being the last in tow. Shooting light was fading fast and they took their sweet time making their way into my shooting lane. At 27 yards I let the VPA fly and heard the unmistakable "whack." A surge of emotions took place as he peeled off over the rise into the the thick brush. Twenty minutes later I recovered my arrow and decided it was best to let him lay as I was not 100% sure of my shot placement. I think I slept maybe a total of two hours that night.
 
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joehunter8301

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Next morning Trkyslr, Nick and myself returned to find him piled up 60 yards away. The shot was perfect and he was prob dead within minutes. To take this buck a year later after spending all summer tracking and patterning him with the history I have with him was just a dream come true and an ending to an incredible story. When we found him I let out a few tears of joy. I think you still can't knock this smile off my face :) Redemption has been served!!!! I looked very hard for any visible scars on his shoulder and could not find anything that resembled a wound so the whole year prior incident goes as a mystery unsolved. It just shows how tough these animals can be.
 
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joehunter8301

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Head on shot of him. If only he had a matching four side he would have been a giant. But I wouldn't change the story for anything!
 
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joehunter8301

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A good look at his strong side. He was extremely heavy all the way out and deep forks.
 
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joehunter8301

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Our good buddy Nick Muche flew out here from Idaho to hunt with us for the opener and it was neat to have him along to try and get his first blacktail and be part of this story. Nick was able to take his first buck on opening evening and it was a beauty. Congrats Nick!!
 
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joehunter8301

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I wanted to hunt with Nick a little before he flew back to home so I spent a couple days hunting with him trying to get his second buck. A few days prior to season up until Nick left to go home, there was no sign of Thunder. A little worried I couldn't help but think maybe he got shot by another hunter. But as big blacktails do, he was prob spending some time in another area and would return soon. I just had to be there when he made his appearance. I sat for several days after Nick left with no sign of him in person or on the camera :-/
 
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joehunter8301

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This was one of the last pictures I had of Thunder before he went MIA. So many "what if's" were running through my head but I knew the only way to find out was to just do my time in the stand and hope he slipped and showed himself....
 
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joehunter8301

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Later into the season the moon was fading with each passing day and the temps dipped to the 80's as a high. This was gonna be the time it happened if it was going to happen. All the signs pointed to early deer movement. With twenty-five minutes of legal shooting light left an no deer sightings yet, I heard a big crunch crunch up to my right that put me on full alert. Thirty seconds later a doe appears forty-five yards out and behind her I can see velet. IT'S HIM!!!! I tried to control myself but the shakes kicked in. He was alive and I was about to get my chance!! I was able to gather myself when he made it to my shooting lane at twenty-eight yards. Few seconds later and I sent the exact same VPA on its way. DID THIS JUST REALLY HAPPEN??? My arrow was covered in red and an quick fifty-five yard blood trail later I found myself standing over Thunder!!! I could not believe it. Such a dream come true.
 
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joehunter8301

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He weighted about 140 lbs on the hoof and we estimated him to be 5-6 years old. History has proven with these mature bucks you need to do your time and wait for them to slip. With no sign of Thunder for over a week I was sure something had happend to him. No words can describe the feeling of accomplishment that came over me with tagging both of my target bucks. I finally got my clean 4x4 and he is all mine!! A HUGE thank you goes out to trkyslr for kickin my ass all summer, pushing me to be better, teaching me his wisdom and most of all, for being a great buddy. This buck was a team effort all the way even though I was the one who shot the arrow. Thanks again brotha!! To add to the story Thunder was shot on public BLM land which made the success even the more sweeter. For those of you who call him a "muley" here kiss his ass, he is all mine and thats all that matters:cool: Thanks for reading this and good luck to the rest of you this fall as I know alot of your seasons haven't even opened yet. Shoot straight!! Joe
 

muleman

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Great story, congrats on your deer. Glad you got redemption on Dump Truck.
 
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