Please join me in congratulating Wired To Hunt reader Derek Stahlman on this awesome eight pointer he arrowed on September 16! Great work Derek! Here’s his story. – MK
By Derek Stahlman
Rewinding time back to the winter of 2012. I had accumulated some new property to hunt, several tracts actually but all of them being very small. The biggest piece was approximately 60 acres. While going in and scouting them that winter I found tons of sign but also saw that I was going to have to be very strategic in my stand placement, particularly entering and exiting them! Jumping ahead to 2013. What a year, I ended up harvesting nine deer total including one of the most unique bucks I’ve ever killed! “The Acorn Buck”.
After that year, just getting a feel for the places, I was very excited to start running trail cameras this summer. One of the biggest pieces I had just did not produce in 2013 but honestly had the most potential when looking at it on a Google Maps. It was mostly field but had approximately 10 acres of thick woods and CRP type bedding that almost made a safe haven for the deer. The farmer had some clover planted on the east field which was perfect for how I wanted to hunt it. Now anyone that knows me knows I’ve always wanted to harvest a big mature eight point and I have had some on camera in the past that would make even Mark Drury or Jim Shockey’s eyes pop out. But stories don’t always end with the hunter sitting behind the animal they set out to harvest now do they!
My plan was to put a camera on that clover field to see what was in there and go from there. Now this next part I believe was a vital piece to the puzzle for this story. I literally checked my camera only three times over a two month period. Just trying to keep my presence to a minimum. The first time I checked it I had a picture of a very mature heavy heavy horned eight point with huge bases, he also had a bent brow tine. So, I nicknamed him BB. A couple days after I had the first set of pics I looked over a map for hours and then went in midday and hung my stand. I knew the entrance and exit was going to be the key if this deer stayed around til season. There was an eight foot deep dry ditch that ran from the destination field about 100 yards west toward their bedding area and there just happened to be a tree right on that ditch. This would make access perfect staying lower than everything all the way to the tree in case they were bedded close. After getting the stand hung I checked my camera two more times over about a month and a half. He and several other deer were frequenting the clover field quite often. The last pictures I had of BB he was starting to shed his velvet at the end of August and I was just hoping and praying he would stay around a couple more weeks.
Now I’m a working man, I actually have been working at UPS for 20 years now, so I can’t just take off whenever I want. I have vacation planned in November for the rut or at least try to every year. But I really wanted to try to get in early and take a stab at this deer. September 15 was opening day and it was a Monday this year so I did not have vacation, scheduled that is. But a front was moving through and was supposed to clear out September 16 mid day and high-pressure was setting in for a few days so I thought this was my chance! I had called my boss on Monday night and ask him if I could use a vacation day and he gave me a green light. It was all setting up to be perfect. But honestly, with me anyways, when you’re chasing a mature dear it usually doesn’t end up like you expect.
I got in the stand very early through the ditch undetected and wasn’t there more than an hour when a few does and fawns stood up not 60 yards from my stand out of the bedding area to stretch. I knew the entrance plan had worked. Seeing a few deer most of the evening made the time go by fast. So, as the bucks do 20 minutes before dark, I saw two young eight pointers I was familiar with coming up the fence line heading towards the field. They stopped in one of my shooting lanes and I ranged them at 30 yards just in case. As they headed towards the destination field making a couple small rubs and sparring I honestly did not think it was going to happen …
And then I saw him, working up the same fence line, and then stepping into the same shooting lane, but this time I was at full draw. My QAD Exodus found it’s mark through both lungs and I was able to watch him fall! At that moment all the preparation, planning, all the time spent in the field had come to a head. I had my fully mature eight point. BB was down!
His left base is 6 1/2 and right one is 5 7/8. The biggest based buck I’ve ever harvested. I couldn’t wait to get him home to enjoy it with my young boys and wife who has had so much patience with me to hunt like I do. I’d like thank Mark and the whole W2H team for allowing me to share my story and for the effort they put into helping all of us to become better hunters. God bless.
– Derek Stahlman