It took multiple shots with a muzzleloader and a well-trained tracking dog, but a very tough Wilkes County buck finally went down and was recovered on Oct. 20. The giant 32-pointer was taken by Kevin Marshall, of Bethlehem.
“What most people will never believe is that this buck let me get four shots off at it with a muzzleloader,” said Kevin,
Kevin was hunting in a ground blind in a new spot along a creek bottom that he had discovered a few weeks earlier. The buck showed up at 8:20 a.m.
“The first shot was a clean miss at 35 yards,” said Kevin. “I neglected to clean the rifle from the Saturday before when I shot at a pig. He ran and stopped at 55 yards. After what seemed like forever, I finally got the gun reloaded, and the second shot was perfect.”
Even with a well-placed hit, the buck staggered off 20 yards and stopped.
“The next reload was a little faster,” said Kevin. “Shot No. 3 hit him high.”
The deer staggered another 30 yards and stopped again.
“Another fumbled reload. Another high hit,” said Kevin.
Kevin watched as the buck left the creek bottom.
“I went to shot No 2, found blood, marked it and went to camp. My nerves were shot,” said Kevin.
Kevin made a great decision and waited three hours for the buck to expire.
“It felt like three days,” said Kevin. “We went to the blood I marked and started trailing. After about 150 to 200 yards, we lost blood. We searched for about an hour and backed out to look for a trailing dog.”
Kevin made another great decision and went online to find a tracking dog on GON’s Dial A Tracking Dog list. He called Jeff Andrews and his dog Copper.
“He showed up around 4:15 p.m.,” said Kevin. “I’ve never used a trailing dog, so this was a first for me. It had been eight hours since I shot. Copper went to the first blood, and he started trailing. He lost it for a few minutes and then went to the creek bottom, and 400 yards from last blood, I heard Jeff yell that Copper had found him. I think we were all in shock.”
When the search party recovered the buck, they knew it was no ordinary buck. He was in full velvet and had many, many points.
“We have counted several times, but 32 points is what we keep coming up with,” said Kevin. “He is a true cactus buck. No testicles. He was aged at 6 1/2 years old. This is my first muzzleloader buck, and the first deer with my new CVA.”
A buck that keeps its velvet indefinitely year after year is often referred to as a cactus buck. It can be caused by injury to the male parts, or, when one or both testes don’t descend into the scrotum of a deer, the condition is called “cryptorchidism.” The result of this condition in a buck is a lower-than-normal level of testosterone, which means antlers don’t go through normal cycles. Antlers on these deer grow in odd shapes, the velvet remains year-round, and the antlers go on growing without being shed. The antlers will continue to grow causing a fuzzy, cactus-like look.
Kevin’s buck is entered in Week 6 of Truck-Buck where he’ll be contending for a new CVA muzzleloader and a spot in the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out next year.