“He’s gone. I can’t believe he walked into our lives and out of our lives that quickly. We were so close.” This was the thought running through my head as I watched “Eric” walk away from me again. Just moments later Johnnie St. Clair, who was running the camera said, ”There he is.” We were about to get another chance of a life time at a true Mississippi Swamp Donkey.
The buck was given the name “Eric” after a good friend and the Publisher of Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, Eric Zinczenko, first saw him from the “Thorn Tree” stand in December of 2010. We weren’t able to get a glance at him until a few weeks later when I saw him from the “Pea Patch” stand while we were videoing the TRUTH TV show. We did not expect to see “Eric” from this stand as it is a mile from where Eric Zinczenko first saw “Eric”. That was the last and only time I personally saw him on the hoof during the 2010-11 deer season.
In the summer of 2011, we started getting a lot of photos of ”Eric” on our Truth Cams over some Red Spot mineral licks, but he seemed real skittish around the cameras. Once we switched to the Truth Cam Blackout, which blocks out the glow of the L.E.D.s, we started getting more and more photos of him and he seemed to never pay any attention to the Blackout cameras. This allowed us to get to know the general area he was calling home as well as the location of a few other big deer that were calling this area home.
At the beginning of the 2011 archery season, we were able to get 63 minutes of video of “Eric” in a stand overlooking some dewberries and old growth clover. Once he got into some tall grass, I started calling and got him to come in our direction. This seemed to be the day that everything was going to work out until one of the small bucks with him got spooked and ran off taking Eric with him. We were so disappointed.
After that sighting “Eric” seemed to disappear, and then we started getting photos of him on the north side of an old cotton field that had been planted in trees. We called the stand closest to this area “Boll Weevil.” The “Boll Weevil” stand was in his home range but he had moved from where we had been trying to intercept him.
So now we knew where he was hanging out late in the afternoon on a pretty consistent basis. We just needed the right conditions to maximize the opportunity to hunt him. That day came on November 22, 2011. The pre-rut had started and a front had moved thru a few days prior so the wind had now switched from the North to the South/Southwest and the hunt was on for “Eric” at the Boll Weevil stand.
We got to the stand about 2 in the afternoon and late in the afternoon we had one small buck come out of the grown up old cotton field. We were still hoping that maybe, just maybe, “Eric” would show up. It was not long after seeing this small buck that “Eric” showed up and he was coming in our direction. My brain went into what I call “extreme focus”. Everything was coming together until all of a sudden “Eric” turns and walks away as if he left something behind. I thought “He’s gone. I can’t believe he walked into our lives and out of our lives that quickly. We were so close.”
Johnnie, who was higher in the tree than me could still see him and whispers, “Call to him”. So I tried bleats with a Can and grunted and roared to him with a new experimental call that we had just built earlier that day. We referred to this call as the Magnum Roar because it really had a “Bull of the Woods” sound to it.
After I called to “Eric” Johnnie said he stopped, looked our way, but he thought he was gone. Then after what seemed an eternity, to me, Johnnie whispers, ”There he is.” “Eric” had come back and was looking for us. He got within about 18 yards and was slightly quartering to me. I made a bleat noise with my voice to stop him and my brain went into overload because in response to my bleat noise to stop him he severely quartered to me before stopping, looking for the source of the sound he heard.
My brain was trying to switch gears because I had focused on shooting him behind the shoulder but thank heaven my brains re-thought the shot, and I moved the pin forward to the edge of the shoulder blade and poured my 3 bladed Rage to him. Coyotes were screaming not too far from us, so I could not hear him running and I really wanted to hear him run just in case I heard him fall.
I saw the cresting of my arrow sticking out of his shoulder so I felt I had good penetration. If I hit him where I thought I did, he should not go too far. I was not going to celebrate until I knew he was down. I got down by myself and when I walked up to him, not 50 yards from where I shot him, I really had to kneel down and have a very quiet moment. Needless to say, we were excited. “Eric” gross scored 175 6/8” even though he had broken off a 5 inch point within the last week we were after him. His mass measurements officially scored a total of 45 2/8 inches. His left beam was 26 6/8 inches. His right beam was 27 7/8. Needles to say Johnnie and I were very excited to have been blessed with this hunt as it was truly two Bowhunter’s dream come true.
~ Will Primos