Today we’re sharing a terrific reader success story from Dayne Majeau, as he regales the tale of his multiple year hunt for a giant drop tine buck. Tragedy, missed opportunities and bad luck – Dayne faced it all and still found a way to succeed. Hard work and perseverance truly does pay off. Congrats Dayne on an incredible buck! – MK
By Dayne Majeau
It’s hard to fully describe this story in just a few short pages. There are so many small details that are important to the story, but I’m going to try and stick to the most important ones for times sake. The summer of 2009, Troy Baker and myself discovered something every hunter dreams of , a true 200” monster whitetail.
Troy and I spent the entire summer observing and documenting the bucks every movement. The buck was a massive 5 by 5 with 8-10” browtines with several non-typical points and a distinct drop tine on his left side, which led to his appropriate name – “Droptine”. By the time opening day rolled around Troy and I were confident that we had the deer fully mapped out and stands were placed ready for the first hunt. A coin toss put Troy in the shooters stand the first evening and I found myself right behind him with a video camera.
That evening Droptine did everything he was supposed to and ended up presenting us with a 40 yard shot. Troy drew, settled in and released the arrow, only to watch it sail slightly over the buck’s back. He jumped a bit, trotted out of range and went back to feeding. Troy was really disappointed with the miss and I could feel his pain. We knew the buck hadn’t spooked and another opportunity was a good possibility. Two days later I found myself in the shooters stand, with Troy behind me on the camera. The evening played out exactly the same, first some does, then small bucks, and then Droptine. The buck was on a steady path to give me a 30 yard broadside shot but at the last second he turned quartering away at a steady walk. I drew my bow, settled on his side and let out a quick bleat to stop the buck. At the second I bleated, the buck stopped in his tracks and looked directly up at me, poised and alert. I found the spot and touched the trigger on my release. We both watched in disbelief as the arrow hit the buck high. Now I don’t know if he ducked or I pulled it, but the buck again ran off like nothing happened, stopped in the middle of the field, and eventually wandered off into the timber. It was a massive disappointment for us both again, all that preparation only to miss on both opportunities.
We searched for days with zero sign of the deer. Little did I know this would be our last hunting experience together, Troy passed away tragically a week after our last encounter with Droptine.
The 2010 summer I found myself slacking on the bow season scouting. My now wife Danielle and I were getting married in August and planning the event took up some free time. One evening I jumped in with a couple friends, Landon and Bj, to go out for a spin and see what was around for good whitetails. I decided it was time to swing by and check on the property that Droptine had inhabited the previous year. As we approached the field I couldn’t believe my eyes. From ¼ mile away I could tell it was him, standing exactly in the spot the events had unfolded the previous bow season. Setting up the spotting scope it was obvious he had grown from last year. The massive 5 by 5 rack was still there with the exceptional brow tines, a few extra points, plus the distinct drop tine on his left side. I was looking at a ghost and couldn’t help but feel like this was meant to be. For the rest of the summer I shifted my surveillance into high gear. By opening day I had Droptine mapped again, but he had definitely wised up from last year. His movements were less predictable and nocturnal in comparison to last year.
After a couple mornings and evenings sitting a few different select stand locations, I figured I had narrowed down the spot. Sightings of him were too late to shoot so I had to move in tighter to his bedding area. I found my spot in a cluster of poplar trees alongside a creek crossing I had learned Droptine was using sporadically every couple days. On the second evening at the creek crossing, it happened.
A nice 5 by 5 walked within 20 yards of me, and not far behind there was Droptine, set to pass right into my shooting lane. It happened so perfect, he stopped, turned his head the other way as if to allow me to draw my bow. I was nervous but confident that this was it. All the practice and prep came down to this one moment. I locked my index finger into the familiar spot on my cheek and peered through the peep sight at Droptine’s vitals, 23 yards away. At the shot the buck whirled around and disappeared in the direction he had arrived. I could see my arrow laying on the trail where he was standing. Everything had happened so fast it was hard to recall the events, but it felt like it had happened as I had planned. As I approached the arrow my heart sank.
I knew exactly what had happened. It appeared the arrow had impacted the deer a bit far forward and not penetrated into Droptines vitals. I hope this is a lesson for everyone that uses expandable broad heads, I had hit the deer a bit forward and stuck the leg bone square, all that was in the deer was half an inch of arrow and the broadhead. Again I took the long walk back to the truck with the massive weight of disappointment on my shoulders. I just couldn’t understand how that had happened at such a close distance again! I went through the routine of looking for the deer, but nothing. I didn’t give up hope.
Two weeks later I checked one of my trail cams. There was the ghost himself again. Right back at it! The last two weeks of October I found myself in the stand every single evening. There were several sightings of him, a couple within bow range, but just too late to shoot. He had gone almost completely nocturnal.
Novemeber 1, gun season. Away went the bow and out came the 7mm mag. Long story short, I had another shot at Droptine. This time it was a bit farther away than I’m used to, 300-320 yards. There he was, broadside looking directly at me. I had a decent rest and light was fading fast, so I decided to give the shot a go. At the crack of the ridle the deer spun and disappeared, much like he’d done the previous two times. How often do you hear the phrase, “Yea, I missed a 200 incher again, on my third attempt.” As I approached where Droptine was standing, it was obvious I had just grazed the brisket. White hair everywhere, no blood. This was getting right ridiculous.
Again, the long walk back to the pickup in the dark. Strike 3. I definitely wasn’t going to get a 4th opportunity. But November 5th I headed back in to check cameras, and there he was again! Still, all the pictures of Droptine were in the cover of darkness.
Nov. 15, 2010. My alarm clock seemed much more distant on this morning. The pursuit of Droptine was starting to wear on me, both physically and mentally. He was in my thoughts and dreams, but not in a good way. The visuals of misses and botched opportunities played over and over again. My morning continued on with the same routine of so many mornings before. I found myself creeping up to the field in the darkness with an added element against me; it was pouring rain. Nov 15 and pouring rain, not optimum trophy whitetail conditions. Needless to say my spirits were low. To top it off, a couple road hunters had spooked all the deer off the field before I could get a look at which deer was which. Around 9:00 am I made a drastic decision, one which I hadn’t attempted yet. With time running out I made a move into the dark spruces the buck called his bedroom. With the heavy rain coming down my movements would be silenced by the wet ground. Perfect, I thought, this might work out all right.
I knew of a small break in the timber, so I entered the dark spruce and slowly still hunted through, with the idea to end up at that opening for the afternoon. About an hour into my slow stalk, things began to happen. First I caught movement directly in front of me. Slowly I positioned myself to have a rest in case of a shot. I lifted my rifle to look through the scope. Massive browtines filled my eyepiece! It was him, at 80 yards and working about 5 does through the underbrush. There was definitely no shot, so I watched the buck for a full hour pester the does in front of me, hoping a doe would pull him my way for a clear shot. The buck eventually disappeared. For the next 4 hours I sat, afraid to move and possibly spook him. Around 2:00 pm I made a slight move up to a bit of an opening, one which would give me a bit better of a shot if the ghost appeared again. So here I was, leaning against a tree stretching my legs, now completely soaked to the bone. My thoughts again drifted to the past events and I think I had really come to terms with the fact that this probably wasn’t going to happen, and that I was out of time. I lazily scanned from my right to left and then just as quickly as he had left earlier, Droptine was at a steady walk in my direction at a mere 25 yards and closing.
Instinctively I threw my safety off. I had to think quick, the path he was on would put him right at my feet in a matter of seconds, to my benefit he would have to pass behind a large spruce. The second his head disappeared behind the massive tree I shouldered my rifle and found the spot in my scope. Without missing a step he came from behind the spruce tree, cleared the limbs and presented me with a head on shot at a mere 12 yards. I centered the crosshairs on his chest and pulled the trigger. I was shocked to see the deer again whirl and quickly disappear in the direction he had come. There’s no way I missed that shot, I told myself. I decided to wait 20 minutes before checking for a hit. Since it was still pouring rain no sign of blood could be found. I walked in the direction Droptine had disappeared. 100 yards and nothing. I was numb walking back to the original spot. And then there he was.
I had walked right past him in my haste to find some sign of a hit. The massive flood of emotion and excitement I felt at that very moment are impossible to describe. I approached my trophy and finally put my hands on the massive set of antlers Droptine had grown. It was overwhelming yet bittersweet that such an adventure had come to an abrupt end. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that Droptine had finally expired, The relationship I had developed with this deer is hard to explain. The cold rain falling had no affect on my spirits at this point. The walk back to the truck I don’t think my feet touched the ground, unlike the many other long walks before. I was on cloud nine as I made all the important phone calls to the people on my list that knew of my pursuit of Droptine.
Landon Cox and Evan Kluk were at my house in no time to come help recover my buck. A good hour and half later we had recovered the deer from the deep dark timber that he called home. It didn’t take long for word to get out and we had a small crowd gathered at home for the arrival of Droptine. After a lot of laughs and high fives, we put a rough gross score together of 204 non-typical inches.
I’m extremely proud of this deer and feel incredibly fortunate for having spent so much time not only pursuing such an incredible deer, but sharing the first year of the adventure with Troy. He is forever in all our memories and hearts.
– Dayne Majeau