Ten-year old Easton Evans of Alamance County went hunting with his PawPaw the afternoon of Thursday September 12th, but expectations were low considering the sweltering 95 degree temps. This was Easton's third hunt so far opening week of the season. He wanted to hunt every afternoon but had football practice some days. Despite the heat, late in the evening deer finally started moving and entering the field where Easton and his PawPaw, Jimmy Evans, were positioned in a box stand. Several deer were headed their way, mostly small bucks, but also the target buck which Easton had nicknamed 'Captain Hook' because of a unique downward 'hook' point coming off the buck's right antler at the base. Easton had seen the hook point on trail cam pics he and his PawPaw had taken throughout the late summer. This was the deer he wanted! With the group of bucks approaching, hopes were high at this point, until three coyotes suddenly appeared across the field, disturbing the deer and causing them to become tense and eventually scatter to a nearby field of tall Johnson grass. Once the coyotes cleared the area however, the deer calmed down a bit and Easton's hopes began to rise again. As if it were meant to be, just as shooting light was beginning to fade, Captain Hook made his way back and found himself standing broadside to the tower stand at 20 yards. Easton's PawPaw whispered a word or two of encouragement, and the Parker Thunderhawk crossbow sent a muzzy-tipped arrow toward the deer, which found it's mark right behind the shoulder. Easton assured his PawPaw he had made a good shot. After trailing the deer a short ways and not finding it right away, the decision was made to err on the side of caution and resume the search the following morning. With the benefit of daylight, the deer was recovered quickly the next morning. Friday the 13th proved lucky for Easton, and celebration time was at hand. Easton had bagged his first buck ever...and in fact his first deer ever...on just his third hunt. To top it off, he had bagged his target buck, 'Captain Hook', which was grossed measured at about 121.5 inches. Easton was congratulated by his 13-year old brother, Elijah, who killed a big buck last season and was really rooting hard for his younger brother to follow suit this season. Major congratulations to PawPaw Jimmy Evans for helping his grandsons get started in the great sport of deer hunting, thereby helping preserve hunting's future. Well done!
My wife Rhonda has been very, very blessed when it comes to deer hunting...but she's been totally 'snake-bit' as far as turkey hunting is concerned. That's fair enough I guess...it sort of balances out.
Actually though, Rhonda's turkey hunting 'career' started off with a BANG. She bagged a nice jake the very first time I took her out turkey hunting 13 years ago. It took less than an hour, in fact. 'Turkey hunting is pretty easy', Rhonda thought. Over the next 13 years, she would find that not to be the case at all.
Since that first success, we've tried year after year to get her a shot at an adult gobbler, and have had many, many encounters during that time...but never had a shot opportunity presented itself. Too far...too thick...too skittish...walking too fast...etc., etc., etc. We've managed to come up short, time and time again.
Saturday April 9th, on opening morning, the gobbler we were working almost managed to keep Rhonda's bad luck streak alive. Initially though, he seemed to have read the script. We had him coming straight in to our set-up, but just as he got in range, he veered off course and began skirting us to our left at a slow but steady pace. Rhonda was following him with the sights on the Remington 1100 20 gauge, but the bird would not stop walking no matter what I tried. Finally, as the gobbler was just about to reach a point beyond which no shot opportunity would be possible, Rhonda tripped the trigger, sending a load of Federal Heavyweight #7s in the direction of his head and neck. Her shot was true, and the big tom folded in his tracks at a distance of 33 yards, ending our 13-year quest.
To say we were both totally ecstatic would be a gross understatement! It's so true that the harder you have to work for something, the more you appreciate it. I knew that when Rhonda's day came, it would be special...and it lived up to my expectations.
Rhonda's bad-luck-streak-ending gobbler was a nice one. He weighed 19 pounds, had spurs a tad over an inch long, and sported a 12-inch beard. After all the celebrating was over, we took the gobbler straight over to my taxidermist and good buddy Craig Hall. Taxidermy is all about preserving precious memories, and Rhonda and I intend to relive this one over and over for many years to come.
As a post-script, on the subject of precious memories, the close-up picture of Rhonda's gobbler with my special glass call could be a story in itself. My now-good-friend Jason Terry and his partner Troy Blalock, of Tobacco Row Custom Calls, made this beautiful glass call for me to commemorate my Dad with his last gobbler before passing a couple years ago. This is my first year using the call, and I have found it to be a really neat way to sort of take my Dad along with me, as I continue the turkey hunting tradition.
Everything came together for me the afternoon of November 25th and I managed to bring down the big 10 pointer our group has been after all season. All the guys (and gals) were just as happy as I was which made it even more special. The buck weighed 165# and gross scored 145-1/2.
My wife and I went out for a quick hunt this morning dressed for church under our camo, and this big 9 pointer came through dogging a doe at about 7:25. I had to 'nay' at him to stop him and when I did Rhonda put the arrow right on the button. The brute weighed 170 pounds and gross measured 140 inches. Rhonda was pretty thrilled, as is obvious by the big smile on her face.
Monday, November 11th, Tammy Tatum of Prospect Hill got this beautiful, heavy-beamed 10-point buck with a .50 caliber muzzleloader. This was Tammy's biggest buck to-date...and her first in over 10 years. That long drought wasn't for a lack of trying though. Tammy had experienced one stroke of bad luck after another in her 10-year quest for the buck of her dreams...but this time, luck was on her side for a change. When asked if she was glad to have the monkey off her back, Tammy said....that was no monkey....that was a GORILLA!! Congratulations Tammy!!
Already on our 8th hunt for this buck just 9 days into the 2013 archery season, Sunday morning September 15th my wife Rhonda made a great 23-yard shot on this big, gnarly Orange County 13-point buck, fulfilling what she and I believe should be every girl's dream....bringing home a big ol', gnarly, 140-inch chocolate-horned bruiser with character to spare! This gorgeous buck had an 11-point mainframe with a split G-2 on his left side and a nice sticker on his right G-2, giving him a total of 13 points. (Which by the way is now Rhonda's new lucky number!) With all the points, stickers, and bladed 5 1/2-inch brow tines to boot, this buck had everything a woman could ask for in a buck. After drooling over quite a few trail cam pictures of this deer for weeks, Rhonda and I both spent several restless nights dreaming of him and wondering if our paths would ever cross. Needless to say, we both felt truly blessed Sunday morning when it all came together.
My wife Rhonda got this nice velvet 8 pointer with her crossbow the morning of September 9, 2012. We were in the blind well before daylight and the first deer we saw happened to be the one we were after. Rhonda made a great shot at 20 yards and the rest is history. She followed this up by taking a doe that afternoon. If this keeps up, we may have to invest in another freezer!