Russ's Avatar Russ's Avatar

January 14, 2013

trailcam buck photo

My father and I hunt at a nearby farm in the valley about two miles from our home. The farm is surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of acres of other farms containing mast crops, so every year that we put the trailcams out, it is no surprise that we see many bucks on cam. The area has more than enough quality habitat to sustain big bucks. We discovered "Breezy the Cactus Buck" on May 19, 2012. From the first trailcam picture that we got of this deer, although his rack wasn't fully developed yet, we were aware that we had some kind of a freak non typical buck on our hands. His bases looked extremely heavy, and it appeared as though he was growing many points. Although not surprised to see a buck of this caliber, as the weeks progressed we were taken back by the odd non typical shape of his rack and palmation on his right side. I named this deer "The Cactus Buck" because of all the points he appeared to be growing, and my girlfriend called him "Breezy" because of the odd way that the right side of his rack swept to the left, as if it was blown in the wind.

trailcam buck photo

Within the same time period that we were acquiring all of the pictures of "Breezy", we were also getting pictures of many other big bucks...some bigger then Breezy. I told my father that, "Man I hope I get a shot at the Cactus Buck because it's such an odd non typical rack. I would rather get something with more character and sacrafice some score than to get something typical but larger." This was my #1 target buck for the season. I remember thinking to myself that, "It'd be nice to get a shot at him, but the chances are slim." The farm that we hunt is about 90 acres, and doesn't hold bucks but seems to be more of a pass through area for them. I assumed that if I was going to get a chance at this deer that it would be during the rut when everything was stirred up. I also planned on not hunting excessively until the November rut so as not to tucker out before then.

trailcam buck photo

I started my season off by hunting the edge of a field where the deer would come across. I had my stand and trailcam set up, and had gotten one great picture of Breezy about 40 yards from my stand. Unfortunately, my stand and camera were stolen days after getting that one good picture. This really turned me off, so I moved to another spot about 150 yards away from where my gear was taken from. I had been hunting a decent amount, but not enough to burn out before the rut. A few evenings before I harvested the Cactus Buck, I was in my stand and had a Great Horned Owl fly past me and land in a nearby tree! Little did I know how much luck this must have brought me! To our surprise, we started to get trailcam pictures of Breezy again...the first ones since August. I knew things were heating up, however these were only night time pictures so I was still in "early season take it easy" mode.

trailcam buck photo

On the evening of October 11, 2012 my father wanted to hunt at the farm. I was feeling kind of tired, and tried to get out of going that day. "Nah I don't think I'm in the mood tonight, I want to pace myself so I don't get burnt out before the rut" I told my father. My dad knowing what a sucker I am for pizza said to me, "Come on Russ...I tell you what, if you hunt tonight, I'll get you a pizza on the way back." It was like I was a magnet and my hunting gear was metal and stuck right to me automatically...and there we went, off to the farm.

trailcam buck photo

This is where the irony begins. I must have done everything wrong that evening (except for scent control which I think probably saved me). First, we stopped in to see our friend and landowner which put us behind scedule. I talked to him about trying a different spot that evening. As we said our goodbyes, the farmer said to us, "Good luck I'll say a prayer that you guys get one!" Next, I decided that I would not go to my stand as usual, but that I would walk from one end of the field, to the other while skirting the edge of a standing corn plot, just to get a little extra scouting in. I struggled with the decision to either stand still, or make my way to my stand. Finally, after about thrity minutes to an hour, I finalized my decision to get to my stand and stay put. I went to the truck to get my harness, then I climbed up into my stand. It was reletively windy that afternoon, and it seemed like the wind was blowing from the west then from the east...back and forth. Directly adjacent to where my stand is, the neighboring farmer was working one of his fields about 200 yards away. Thirty minutes later, he wrapped up his work and left.

trailcam buck photo

My stand faces the east overlooking a heavily traveled rutting trail that bucks seem to always follow during November; directly opposite from the direction that Breezy would soon come from. I was sitting down, and just happened to look over my right shoulder behind me. To my amazement, there he stood about 40 yards behind me, staring into the field that the neighboring farmer had been working in, checking to see that he was gone. The wind must have been coming from the West at that time because he had no idea that I was there. He was 40 yards and closing. I slowly grabbed my bow while seated, stood up, and turned 180 degrees. At this time, Breezy was at about 15 yards an closing. Having some perfect leafy cover to break up my outline, I drew back my bow right as the Cactus Buck stepped out for a clear shot. He still had no clue that I was right above him. At this point he was no more then 7 to 10 yards from my tree, and he was still staring intently at the farmers field adjacent to me. I remember clearly bending at the waist, and sliding all of my pins past him to settle in the first pin of my Trophy Ridge Alpha V5. Subconsciously I knew this was Breezy because of his non typical rack, but thinking back on it, I don't have in my memory knowing that it was him for sure. I let my Rage broadhead fly. I was using a Nockturnal lighted S nock and I remember that the nock went off, but then it must have popped off of my arrow, never to be seen again.

trailcam buck photo

I felt great about the shot and I was nearly positive that I heard him crash. I called my father in pure disbelief saying, "Dad! I got the Cactus Buck! The Cactus Buck Dad!" He told me that he was positive that he heard the buck crash about 50 yards in front of his blind. I gave the deer about a half hour just to be certain not to push him. I walked back to the truck and prayed to god that I would recover this harvest. I called my father and told him that I was going to start to trail the buck. I was a bit nervous because I didn't find blood until after about 30 yards, however from 30 yards to when I found my deer, there was lots of blood. There he was piled up, about 70 yards from my stand; the biggest and most non typical buck that I've shot to date. I was and still am so excited about this harvest. Breezy the Cactus Buck weighed in at 190lbs dressed and gross scores at about 130". I will be getting a shoulder mount of this guy. It will be something like a full sweep with the ears running parallel with the rack. I will be sure to post pictures when the mount is completed.

buck harvest photo

buck harvest photo

buck harvest photo