An Encounter With A Giant

Yesterday was one of the most incredible days I have ever experienced in the woods in my entire life. The emotional highs and lows of the day were akin to riding a roller coaster like none other. I am continually blessed in my life for reasons that are beyond me and yesterday was just another example of that.

The day started at 4:30 am as I threw my gear in the car and drove an hour to meet Tex for a morning hunt that I was filming. We had an incredible morning in the woods with so many laughs and memories made, some great footage and deer in the truck. I will let Tex chronicle the stories from the morning in his own words in a forthcoming blog post. What I narrate below is the story of our afternoon hunt, about unexpected surprises and our encounter with a Michigan giant.

For the afternoon hunt Tex decided to get behind the camera and I was going to do my best to put an arrow through doe as my venison supply is currently at zero. We headed north to a property that for the past few years hasn’t produced very much for us even though it looks like a great piece of property. We left the truck at 4 pm and made the short walk to were we wanted to sit and by 4:30 we were sitting in our Lone Wolf hang ons overlooking a transition area surrounded by overgrown CRP fields.

Within 20 minutes we had two button bucks working towards us and the night was looking promising. Over the next half hour the button bucks moved increasing closer until they were directly underneath of us (which is fun but also pretty annoying). While watching the button buck under my stand I saw him increasingly focus on the CRP field at my 4 O’clock and directly behind Tex. I strained to see what he was looking at and eventually he started working that way. That’s when I saw movement on the field edge and a very large buck making a scrape. He was absolutely shredding the poor russian olive above his scrape and I was having trouble discerning exactly how big he was…and then he looked up!

I have seen a lot of bucks in my lifetime and been blessed to be there to recover some giants but this buck blew my mind. I have never seen a buck quite as wide as this buck and the MASS of his antlers is a sight to behold. It took me a moment to gain enough composure to be able to relay to Tex exactly the magnitude of the situation. The giant slowly walked into the woods and looked at the two button bucks and a basket 4 point that had showed up on the scene and you could tell he was agitated. He was definitely Goliath and was not pleased that other bucks were on his stomping grounds no matter how small they were. With hackles raised and a small charge he was successful in scattering the young bucks and began milling about. I slowly grabbed my bow, stood up and turned around to be able to potentially make a shot. Tex was trying his best to get the camera on him filming directly over his shoulder and right into the sun.

After what seemed like an eternity the giant started to move down a trail that ran parallel to us and at it’s closest point was a clear spot in brush 40 yards away. As he neared the first opening I tried to draw but my safety harness rope obstructed my elbow. I quickly remedied that obstacle and pulled my bow to full draw. As he reached the clear spot on the trail I bleated, bringing him to a stop and looking right at me. I guessed the yardage at 40 yards and settled my 40 yard pin right behind his shoulder at center mass. As I released the arrow time seemed to stop and I watched as my arrow flew towards the giant as he stood there on high alert. I watched in slow motion as his back ducked as he prepared to run and my arrow sail less than an inch over his back. As he bounded off I knew immediately all of the rookie offenses I had just committed and my heart sank if that was possible considering it was practically beating out of my chest. I watched as the giant ran out into the field as I sat down to grab another arrow and then something magical happened…after 100 yards he stopped. He was just standing there in all his glory still hackled up and angry just looking my way. I slowly reached down and grabbed my rattling antlers in an act of desperation and hope.

I rattled my heart out for 30 seconds as I watched him standing there before something miraculous happened he started coming back. I quickly put down the antlers and the giant picked up his pace. He came running into the woods belidgerantly sliding and looking for the fight. He came at a trot right to us and passed behind us at 30 yards, sliding to a stop in the same row of trees as us a mere 40 yards away. I couldn’t see him I could only hear as he walked towards us thinking that maybe I was going to get a chance at redemption. With my heart racing I kept peering over my shoulder looking for him and then felt the soft breeze on my face as the wind shifted and blew right at him.

I never saw him again but Tex said he stood there for a bit and then took a couple bounds into the CRP and mozied off.

I really hope that I get another glimpse or opportunity this season at “Goliath” and am definitely looking forward to chasing him for the rest of the season.

Since the encounter I have been consumed by it and I got to thinking about why i hunt and why we hunt and the experiences we have hunting, the people we hunt with and what makes a hunt successful. That indescribable feeling that you get when you have an encounter with a shooter buck is amazing. I’m not just talking about 170″ monsters either. It could be a 110″ 8 point that takes your breath away. It’s that moment that borders on spiritual and makes you feel so alive.

To make it even better, being able to share that experience with a friend adds a whole other level. To be with a friend in that moment when nature throws you a curveball or an amazing encounter with an animal is something altogether it’s own. That is my favorite part of filming and being filmed. It is great to have the video so you can share the experience but it will never be the same as being there. But when you are filming for someone or being filmed you get to share that experience with someone as it happens. No video or social media is ever going to replace that common bond that ties us together as hunters and the experience of being there for the shot. No fireside story can relay the emotions of missing the buck of a lifetime. No tweet of condolence can remedy the heartbreak of loosing a buck after tracking him a mile. No celebratory bourbon tastes as good as the one with your hunting partner after a successful hunt.

And that is what makes a successful hunt in my eyes. The camaraderie of shared experiences with some of mother natures most pristine landscapes and majestic animals. The highs and lows, the misses and the kills, the all day sits and the exhaustion. The feeling that you are alive and part of something far more vast than yourself. A whole chain of living organisms that interact with each other and depend on one another. And in this chain of life you are not just a man; you are a hunter.


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