The Hunt For M.I.A

Story written by Prostaffer, Mike Patterson:
I recently named this buck M.I.A due to the fact that after I would spot him he would go “Missing In Action” for awhile. The journey for this buck started in mid December of 2011 while I was glassing to check what animals had made it through the Ohio firearms season. When I glassed him in the CRP he really caught my eye as a beautiful 3.5 year old that I figured would gross somewhere in the mid 140’s. I instantly wanted to get some pics of him so i placed three Primos Truth cams on the property. It took almost 2 weeks to finally catch a few images of him.
My next goal was to locate his sheds in the upcoming spring months. The winter was unusually mild and when i went in february to start peeking around for early shedding deer, I ended up glassing him and another 3.5″ year old. They were still carrying their head gear and to my surprise still chasing does in february. As a matter of fact there were several bucks chasing a few young does. I kept tabs on where he liked to chase does as well as where he liked to travel with his buddy. I started finally finding sheds towards the end of February but not M.I.A’s. I just kept going back every so often and looking covering different areas. I ended up finding 13 sheds on the farm and finally around March I located his right antler in a spot I already searched. I never did locate the left side but was thrilled to have one since I searched so many hours. The countless acres of CRP fields make shed hunting very difficult to cover everything.

When the summer months arrived I put out 5 Truth Cams with hopes of finding M.I.A. I checked them every few weeks or so all the way up until September. I had gotten pictures of his running mate whom I ended up naming “Splits” due to his split brows, but no pictures of him. I had glassed the bean fields and CRP on several occasions but with no sightings. I finally decided to move on and split my cams up on different farms in hopes of finding a good target buck for the upcoming archery season. The best I came up with was a 145 class 10 point and “Splits” who I figured would gross around 160″. I kept telling my wife Amy I really wanted to see what this deer turned into before I pursued something else.

Archery season came in finally and we had several pictures of “Splits” by my daughters Double Bull Blinds. I took Anna alot in the early season in hopes she could connect on him, but almost as if he knew season had started he moved his bedding area. I caught him on cam opening morning heading to his new bedding area. On October 20th I checked a trail camera over looking a heavily used scrape and had pictures of “Splits” that morning. I decided that he was a mature 4.5 year old and I was going to pursue him.

The evening of Oct 20th I setup over looking a big CRP field and creek bottom. It wasnt long before the cooler weather had the deer on their feet. Movement caught my eye and when I pulled my binoculars up, I spotted splits heading away from me. I pulled my Buck Roar out and hit him with some deep grunts. I then followed with a mean ol snort wheeze and he crashed through briars heading my way looking for a fight. Unfortunately he circled upwind enough that he caught a whiff of something he didn’t like. After he vanished I knew I was going to have to figure out a different approach.

That folowing Monday I took Anna out to try and harvest one of the good looking 8 points we had been watching. Around 6pm one of them was heading our way but I lost him somewhere behind the blind. I just kept barely lifting windows and scanning trying to locate which side he would come out on. I looked behind the blind one more time and thats when something caught my eye that wasn’t no 8 point. I instantly Knew I had just spotted the buck I had been looking for all summer. When I pulled my binoculars up they soon confirmed that he had the kicker on one of the G2’s and more tines on the left antler. I couldnt help but also notice that he just walked by two of my treestands. I was glad to see him but when he caught our wind and snorted, I just thought about how he just messed up and I wasnt in them to catch him.

That night I kept wondering where I may be able to harvest him at or if I would even see him again. I knew what fields he liked using from the previous year, but they were also fields that I was only allowed to shed hunt and setup cameras in. To my surprise when I got home and checked my email. there was an email I have been waiting on for 7 long years. I just secured permission on M.I.A’s stomping ground and now the race was on. Looking at the weather and seeing that 80 degree days were coming for 3 days I decided to take Tuesday off work to hang stands and glass. I glassed the fields that morning but the warm temps really suppressed the movement. I decided I needed to get about 5 stands hung and then leave them alone waiting on cooler weather. I only hung three on that day and just kind of played it safe. That evening I glassed from one of the safe stands and watched a 130 class buck pushing does but not my buck. The warm air made the hunting miserable but I stayed with it each night. On thursday the forecast for friday was cool weather and a north wind. My observation stand would work for this wind but I felt I was out in left field if I hunted it. So I made the decision to hang another stand Thursday afternoon so I would be ready come Friday.

On Friday October 26th it was a long day at work and with the cool temps moving in I couldnt wait to get to the stand. Rain was moving in quickly but I decided to hunt my newly hung stand anyway. On my way to the stand I glassed a nice buck in front of my daughters blind. I knew they were on their feet so I quietly made it to my stand. Once settled in I instantly saw two bucks cruising in the CRP field where M.I.A chased the winter before. The bigger buck went upwind from me and when he didnt even react to the wind I knew it would be a good night. The next deer to come by me were 5 does and fawns and they walked right up the trail to my east. At 4:18 I looked across the creek bottom and spotted antlers working my way. At first I said well thats “Splits” but when I looked through my optics I realized it ws my target buck. I hit my Buck Roar that almost never fails me and to my surprise he kind of shrugged me off. I looked up in the tree and looked at the two antlers I brought to rattle with. One was his shed and one was one of splits sheds from 2 years before. I always thought it would be cool to rattle a buck in with his own shed but I decided since I could saee him in the thicket, I didnt want to chance anything too aggressive yet. The next hour was rather slow and I watched two more bucks come out of where he went. I kept thinking about all the does that had walked by me and maybe he would come cruising up the fenceline. It was almost 6pm when I noticed he was standing 85 yards in the crp. I kept thinking what call should I use but I also wanted to see what he wanted to do next. Thats when he just decided to bed right there and all I could see was his antlers. At one point he must of laid his head down because I could find anything in the optics. Thats when I decided the try the original can call. It was windy so he couldnt hear it very well but I noticed his rack was now upright again. My next card to play was the Buck Roar. I hit him with a few sharp grunts and he jumped on his feet and had the sound pin pointed. I didnt want to over do it so I waited for him to start walking my way. I thought wow he is coming right in and then he turned up in the CRP field. So thats when I went back to the can. After a few estrous bleats from it he started my way again. This time he was 50 yards and staring my direction scanning for where the sound came from. Finally he committed and started coming out of the crp. I had a 40 yard shot at one time but I thought he is coming closer so I didnt take it. He started leaving and I thought it was over but I tried one more estrous bleat. I had a big tree in front of me and couldnt see him so I kept going from one side to the other looking for him. I thought he has to be leaving but the next time I peeked on my shooting lane he was coming right to me. I waited for my opening and gave him the ol “mah” to stop him and it was like he seen a ghost. The arrow found its mark at 24 yards and he bounded through the crp right where I glassed him so often the winter before. When I stopped seeing the rack I knew it was over and he was mine. I wanted to share the tracking job with my dad so I went and got him. It was a short track job and we were soon high fiving. He had 15 scoreable points and I rough taped him at 174 6/8″. The last month had been tough on my wifes side of the family. Her sister in law was signing up to donate a kidney to my mother in law and while going through the donor screening she found out she had breast cancer. I usually wear a camo bracelet that I dubbed my good luck bracelet but I recently switched it out to a pink one to support our sister in law. Two weeks ago I put her initials on an arrow that I said was the one I would harvest my buck with. It was very sweet seeing the initials KF showing through the blood soaked arrow. Hope you guys enjoy the pics I have been truly blessed with another great deer.


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