(Writer pictures)

“Nearly Heaven, West Virginia” — there actually isn’t every other approach to describe my dwelling state. I like virtually being misplaced in time right here. I dwell in Monroe County, which is a primarily agricultural county situated within the southern a part of West Virginia. We shouldn’t have a single stoplight in the complete county. The working joke is there’s extra head of cattle than individuals, and personally, I hope that by no means adjustments. It has rolling hills and valleys, creeks, but in addition the mighty Peters Mountain. That’s the place I grew up and realized to hunt, lure, and fish.

Peters is steep, rugged, and filled with limestone, greenbriers, and mountain laurel. Bowhunting this mountain may be very tough. There aren’t many pinch-points or ridges that bottleneck, the wind is continually shifting, and there are not any simple paths to get to the place the deer are. I are inclined to chase the meals when looking it. Some years, acorns will probably be excessive on the mountain, so I hunt excessive. Some years, there are not any acorns, however the grape vines are full, so I’ll hunt the grapes. Some years, an early frost plus a dry summer season will depart us with no mast crops in any respect, so I hunt thick areas with plenty of browse.

That is the place the story begins. It began with an image in early October. One blurry image of a good 10-point. My household and I had by no means seen this buck in individual, which isn’t unusual on the mountain. Annually we get good bucks on digital camera, after which they disappear. The deer which are there in the summertime depart throughout the rut, however new deer all the time present up on the identical time.

The next 12 months, we obtained a pair extra photos of the 10-point throughout the very same week in October because the 12 months prior, however nonetheless none of us encountered him in individual. The subsequent 12 months, my cousin noticed the buck pushing a doe, however no shot was provided. Final 12 months, my dad, grandfather, uncle, and cousin all encountered the deer, however the one shot on him was in rifle season…and I missed! Each time we noticed the buck, it was inside a 1,000-yard radius. That is the place he would make his daylight look.

My grandparents have a giant image window looking over one of many solely fields on the mountain. They’ve a recognizing scope and be careful the window on daily basis. My Gram was looking the window one morning and noticed one thing within the snow. It was one of many buck’s sheds. We by no means discover sheds on the mountain — like ever. We knew he had made it by means of all of the rifle looking, as our non-public land borders the Virginia Nationwide Forest and lots of, many individuals hunt there. The next month, my Uncle Dave discovered the matching facet practically one mile away! Gram and my uncle determined to share the sheds, and to this present day the sheds make the centerpiece on my grandparent’s kitchen desk.

Gram (Donna Boothe) with the buck’s huge shed she discovered the 12 months prior.

I knew the next 12 months the buck could be an absolute big. In our space, deer don’t are inclined to make it to full maturity. With heavy rifle season stress, if a deer makes it to 3½ years previous, he’s very fortunate. The one factor that allowed this buck to succeed in maturity was the mountain. This deer would mattress excessive the place he may watch the whole lot. He would all the time be touring with the wind in his nostril. He was a real ghost deer.

He shortly turned well-known across the space similar to any massive buck does. Individuals began speaking, and I began to get nervous. This deer is a real once-in-a-lifetime deer for our a part of the state. With the historical past my household had with him, I felt like he belonged to us, and nobody else. I additionally had a intestine feeling that I used to be going to be the one to kill him that 12 months.

Our complete household was virtually sure the place the buck spent most of his time from late October by means of December, however I wasn’t satisfied. We obtained him on digital camera the evening earlier than I hunted, and he was doing the identical factor he’d achieved in years previous. Based mostly on the latest pictures, and different photos of him from the previous, I made the choice to strive one thing completely different: I went low on the mountain with my climber on my again, ending up a couple of half-mile from the place the earlier evening’s image was taken, and nearer to the place I knew the buck was most probably bedding.

Identical to Del Gue in “Jeremiah Johnson” says, “Nicely, preserve your nostril within the wind, and your eyes alongside the skyline.” That’s precisely how I hunt.

I walked into a really secluded space and instantly discovered massive rubs with the saplings damaged off chest excessive. I went somewhat farther on this space and located three very massive, contemporary scrapes. I checked my wind once more, discovered a tree subsequent to one of many scrapes, and obtained arrange.

My chosen ambush provided very restricted visibility, in addition to small capturing lanes. I checked my yardages round me and made psychological notes of them, plus any lanes I may get a shot by means of.

The primary animals to indicate up had been two coyotes. A little bit later within the day, I heard a noise above me adopted by a grunt — not simply any grunt, however a growl — and I heard it many times. It was clear that the buck making stated noises was agitated and wished any and all listeners to understand it.

Path digital camera pictures like this one persistently confirmed the buck’s most well-liked course of journey.

Then I noticed him — the buck I had hoped would stroll in entrance of me, or one among my members of the family, that fall. He was there, and he was strolling proper towards me. There was little doubt he was the King of the Mountain.

When the buck reached the primary scrape, he pawed the grime, broke off a small tree, after which he made one other grunt-growl. I slowly reached for my bow in preparation for a shot because the buck inched nearer to the following scrape, which was simply 30 yards above me.

I attempted to settle my nerves as I drew my bow, and when the buck checked that scrape, he provided me a broadside shot. I settled my pin, took a deep breath, and launched the arrow. It struck dwelling! I centered the buck’s shoulder, however my setup reduce by means of it like butter. The previous buck took off, however he solely made it 30 yards earlier than nosediving into the grime.

Now, as each profitable hunter is aware of, the moments that comply with experiences like mine often contain a ridiculous case of the shakes! Because of this, I needed to wait a number of minutes earlier than even climbing down out of the tree.

As soon as I obtained down, I virtually ran to the fallen buck and grabbed the antlers of a real West Virginia big. I sat there for a number of minutes, simply admiring this stunning buck whereas soaking within the expertise. Then I referred to as my dad, and I may hear the emotion in his voice. My subsequent two calls had been to my fiancé, Maggie, and my Gram.

It was then that I noticed I used to be actually in the midst of nowhere — principally the abyss of Peters Mountain — with a 6½-year-old whitetail, and I wanted assist to get him again dwelling. My grandfather (aka “Poppy”) was out of city, my dad was at work, as was my cousin, Tyler, and my Uncle Dave. So, I referred to as Gram once more, as she was the one one dwelling.

So, with out hesitation, my 73-year-old grandmother made the hike to help me. She was thrilled at my success, and whereas I labored to tug my buck off the mountain, Gram proceeded to hold my treestand and bow for a half-mile! We lastly made it to the home, past exhaustion, however nonetheless excited. After a number of cellphone calls and photos, actuality really set in for good… I’d lastly killed a bona fide West Virginia “Mountain Monarch!”

The creator lives in Lindside, WV, the place he works as a mission supervisor for Stateson Properties.

Writer’s Notes

My tools on this hunt included a Mathews V3 bow, Victory RIP arrows, QAD Exodus broadheads, and an X-Stand climbing treestand. There are 4 bowhunting-only counties in West Virginia, and yearly giants are taken there, together with the final two state information. Monroe County, WV, isn’t recognized for giant bucks. That stated, for the previous 5 years I’ve been blessed to take bucks that scored at the least 130 P&Y-style inches off the mountain.

Monroe County has a three-buck restrict, and with our property bordering public land in Virginia, it’s arduous for a Monroe buck to dwell previous two or three years of age. My household practices high quality deer administration the most effective we will, however it may be very tough. We plant year-round meals plots and attempt to create pure cowl to guard fawns throughout the spring. We cross a number of bucks, however we do shoot does to fill our freezers with meat to feed our households.

I like to see giants come out of West Virginia, as a result of it reveals the potential we actually have. My story is proof that there are massive bucks on the market — and, for those who do the correct issues as a steward of the land, you can also make it occur.

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