After Four years of history, the Big 6 is finally down

After Four years of history, the ‘Big 6’ is finally down

The chapter has closed for the “big 6” at MahoneyHQ. This guy has been on camera for four years, and this year he finally became legal when he grew a 4th 3 inch kicker point on his right base. Only seen him 4 times in person, two of those times were this year. For me personally, it’s not so much about the size of the deer. Instead, I find immense joy in the challenge of patterning and waiting for these smart old bucks that have made it to 5 years old or more. That is a hard thing to do with the amount of hunters and other natural dangers these bucks face all year long. To be honest, for as many photos we had of this guy, trying to predict where he would be proved to be virtually impossible. I needed a little bit of luck to make things go my way. Today, luck was on my side. The story of how this hunt unfolded made it even more special.

I’ve been hunting one spot and only one spot for the last 5 days. Entering and exiting based on the wind. It’s where I felt I had the best chance at him or the other big buck I’ve been chasing. Saw some decent activity through 8am, and then a dead zone. I had things to do so decided to head out at 9:30. Instead of taking my usual route, I walked up a creek ditch into some heavy cover to look for a coyote I had shot the evening before. I didn’t make it 150 yards before I walked up on a couple of fawns that definitely appeared concerned, but not from me. I soon found out what was causing their anxiety. If you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you’ll remember the scenes where the T Rex comes crashing through the trees. That is the only way I can describe the sound and raucous of what happened next. Turns out the mama of those fawns was in heat and everybody in town seemed to know about it. The doe in question came flying by me less than 30 yards, followed by this guy, and 7 other bucks. Yes, I said 7, making 8 total!! There were some big ones, too, but the one I immediately recognized was him, leading the pack. I yelled but couldn’t get him or any others to stop. They pushed her up into a swamp out of sight and I followed.

As quickly as the stampede had come, it was gone and all was quiet again. I kept moving slowly through the swamp knowing they couldn’t have gone far. Then, grunts and snort wheezes broke the silence as they charged back through, but the only shot opportunities were on the younger guys who were frantically looking through the brush for where she had gone. They ran into the mined land hills, what many call the Gobs, straight downwind of me. I tried circling around to get a better wind and got within 50 yards, but one of them finally busted me. They all ran. Hunt was over, time to head back to the truck, or so I thought.

I made my way through the gobs and into a big valley, which overlooked where they had all ran. I stopped to catch my breath and made a phone call to my dad to recount what I just witnessed. Upon hanging up the phone, I looked down the valley and watched all the bucks running back to go find the doe. It wasn’t over yet, but I had 200 yards I needed to cover to get back in position. This time, the wind was in my favor. I hustled up as far as I could before stopping and scanning. There she was at the end of the gully between 2 gobs. I slipped down into the shade of the trees in the gully and crawled closer, eventually reaching a distance of only 30 yards. I could see antlers moving back and forth below her.. She wasn’t leaving, and I knew I just needed to wait. As I watched her, I noticed a massive wound on her back leg, which I can only assume was caused during the havoc of being chased to the point of exhaustion by 8 testosterone fueled bucks. Not sure if they gouged her or if she just got caught on something, but it was bad. You can see it in one of these pictures.

I waited for nearly 30 minutes as the big 6 ran off all the other bucks. He made 3 appearances next to the doe, but knew something was up and alarm snorted each time, only to come back seconds later. He did not want to leave her and she wasn’t going anywhere! Each time, he was behind heavy brush or trees, preventing me from taking a shot. Finally, on the fourth appearance, he walked straight up the gully right where I needed him. It was a head on chest shot at 30 yards, and within seconds, after nearly 2 hours of stalking, he was lying dead down in the valley.

I’m not sure I’ll ever witness anything like what happened today ever again. But I can’t think of a better way to close out the story of a homegrown buck we’ve known so well over the last several years. It’s bittersweet in many ways.

Every November, I make it a point to take time off for archery and rifle season. I was out virtually every single day November through Monday the 21st. It gets grueling and tiresome and hard to wake up day after day. I know not everyone has the ability to take off the time that I do, but it seems like I learn the lesson every year that if you can remain patient and put in the time, it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”, something special will unfold, even if you don’t get to pull the trigger. I’ve seen a lot of great deer pictures in the last couple weeks and wish everyone congratulations on their success, and best of luck if you’re still chasing them!