by: Jared Knerr, Bowtech Regional Sales Manager
The story of my buck with a lopsided rack (Loppy) began on October 11, 2015. His first appearance was on a trail camera we had positioned over a community scrape. Due to his body shape and behavior with the other deer, we initially thought he was a 4.5 year old buck. It wasn’t until nearly a month later on November 8th that I first encountered Loppy on the hoof. I was trying to harvest a buck we had named “Goliath,” who was chasing does and fighting off every small buck that crossed his path. He was only 60 yards from the stand. As I stood in amazement of this animal, out of nowhere, Loppy proceeded to trot by at 13 yards, headed to investigate all of the commotion. I had only a split second to make a decision: Take the shot at Loppy or wait to see if Goliath presented me with a shot? I had spent the season chasing Goliath, so I chose to pass on Loppy.
The second encounter I had with Loppy that season was early one morning in mid-November. He was alone and checking a scrape. I attempted to grunt at him; however, he responded by circling down wind, disappearing into the brush.
The final time I came face to face with Loppy in 2015 was early the morning of November 23. A lone doe appeared from the cedars and bedded down 20 yards from my tree. It didn’t take long before I caught movement through the thick brush. It was Loppy chasing off another small buck. I turned on the camera and proceeded to film him posture and show dominance towards the inferior 2 year old buck. He eventually bedded down 40 yards from me, perfectly broadside, yet I had no shot opportunity. I slowly stood up and with my hands hidden behind the tree, I texted my wife saying, “Loppy is bedded at 40 yards…I may be here a while. Love you.” I slid my phone back into my pocket and stood, patiently waiting for an opportunity to present itself. It was a cold, windy November morning; one that brought me to layer up in my heaviest hunting gear. I can still feel the numbness setting in on my fingers as they grasped the cold aluminum riser of my bow. An hour and a half had passed; I was still standing, mostly motionless, except for the trembling of my legs from excitement and the bitter cold. Suddenly, I caught movement from my left! A smaller buck headed right towards the doe. I looked back at the bedded deer to find out if his presence would cause any movement. The doe was standing and bolted into the cover of the thick cedars, with Loppy hot on her heels. Before I knew it, my opportunity to harvest this buck had vanished. All that remained was the tingling in my frozen fingers and the anticipation of our next encounter.
“Before I knew it, my opportunity to harvest this buck had vanished.”
Archery season came to a close without offering any more opportunities to complete this story. Loppy disappeared from our farm, not to be seen on the hoof or in trail camera photos from mid-December through fall of 2016. On October 23, he showed back up on camera at the same scrape he initially came to over a year earlier. Instantly I knew it was him! I could not believe the picture I was looking at.
The afternoon of Friday, November 4, 2016 was the first opportunity I had to climb into the stand that hung in a pinch point, along the creek where I felt Loppy was living. The photos indicated that he was making his way to the scrape near the stand around 6:30 in the evenings, so I had a good feeling that he wasn’t traveling far from his bed much before that time. Unusually hot November weather was in full effect and my hopes for harvesting a mature buck were slim, but I tried to stay positive. The rut was beginning, so anything was possible.
At 4:52 p.m. I spotted a doe with two fawns working their way towards us. I reached up to let my wife, who was filming for me, know deer were coming. The lead doe caught the movement of my arm. It was a miracle she didn’t blow and run away! They cautiously walked in to 30 yards, moving up the hill and out of sight. Seconds after they cleared my view, another doe came bounding through the thick creek bottom. She was being chased by Loppy! I couldn’t believe it. The doe worked her way directly down the funnel between the deep creek and the base of a small hill. Loppy stayed 20-25 yards behind her and watched her every move. Finally, she moved past us and he was quickly following right behind her. I remember coming to full draw and hearing my wife say, “Jared, I’m not on him…Ok now I am.” I settled the BTX, pin set at 32 yards, and squeezed off a shot. The arrow hit and he instantly kicked and crashed through the timber. Even with the video footage showing a good shot, we decided to back out for a few hours and return later that evening with extra help from family and friends. We began the search that night, quickly finding a solid blood trail leading to a bed where he had been laying. It was a hard decision to back out again, but I knew it was the best option since he had moved on from this bed. In the end, Loppy was successfully recovered. The story of this buck that I had so much history with had come to an end and I could not believe it!
This hunt was the most exciting hunt I have ever been a part of. I am forever grateful to all of my family and close friends who were there to experience it with me!