Going into the 2023 Missouri archery season, I had my sights set on a specific buck I had been watching for a couple of years. Not long after putting out cameras this summer, I started getting a few pictures of the 5.5-year-old and tried to learn more about the area where he liked to spend most of his time. It was an area I knew well, the same area of the farm where I killed BB8 last year in October, but this buck was different. He avoided trail cameras more than any buck I have ever hunted. When the season opened up in the middle of last month, I hardly got pictures of him, even though I knew he was in the area.
Mike Hunsucker prepping treestand locations for fall.
Even so, we hunted every chance the conditions would allow but never did lay eyes on him in September. On the evening of October 5th, the first cold front of the month blew in, allowing us to sit in the same spot where I arrowed BB8 the previous October. As light faded, I looked up, and there he was, working right toward us. With only minutes left of legal light, he fed into the food plot less than 30 yards away. I came to full draw but could not clearly make out the vitals and had to watch him walk out of the plot without releasing an arrow. We had two more encounters with him after, once out of range and once had the hunt ruined by a coyote.
With the second cold front of October moving in, we hung a new set anticipating a W wind on the front end of the system, but after not laying eyes on him and the wind swinging around out of the north, I knew exactly where we wanted to be sitting last night. It was a dreary, misty evening with a stout, consistent wind, and the deer were on their feet early! We saw several does and smaller bucks and even had a nice four-year-old ten-pointer approaching as light faded for the evening. I was wondering what we could do differently, wondering what that buck was doing, when I looked up and saw him coming directly to us down the fence line. It happened quickly! He walked straight to the fence crossing, jumped, and trotted into the plot as I came to full draw. I let out a grunt with my mouth as it didn't appear he had plans to slow down, and he stopped to look back behind him. I released the arrow and watched it bury behind his shoulder and blow through into the dirt behind him. He ran hard straight away but didn't make it 80 yards before piling up in the field!
Mike with his '23 Missouri whitetail.
It's been a blast chasing this buck over the past month, and it never fails to amaze me how wise these old bucks are. Never have I hunted a buck before that was so extremely camera-shy. I moved cameras several times, trying to lock down his movement, but to no avail. Nonetheless, it shows you that cameras never tell the whole story. It's always a bittersweet moment when you wake up the next day without the same urgency to check cameras and make the next move, but man, is it rewarding when it all comes together!