Editor’s Note: Luke Roberts, 16, of Martin, was the 2012 winner of GON’s Youth Big-Buck Contest. He collected his grand prize in October when he went deer hunting with the fine folks at Woods-N-Water outfitters in Johnson County. Luke scored on a nice buck and sent GON the following diary.
Oct. 17, 2013: We arrived at camp and settled in around 9 p.m. I looked at all the mounts and photos on the walls. My dad and I talked about how cool it would be to have my picture on the wall with a nice deer. Afterward, we had a safety briefing with Mr. Blaine Burley, and we looked at several-dozen trail-cam photos. We picked out a couple bucks we were interested in hunting, one of which had an interesting characteristic. We noticed he had a crab claw on the end of his main beam.
Oct 18, 2013: On the first morning we hunted out of a tower stand in a mature pine stand overlooking a long food plot. The weather was clear with little or no wind, and it was hot.
Around 8:45 we saw a 15-inch 8-point move through at a pretty good pace. We saw turkeys grazing in the food plot all morning long.
That afternoon we hunted in a ladder stand along a creek. There was lots of sign, and it was super thick. We thought our chances were good. However, we were on an edge, and if a good one slipped through, he would be on top of us quick. Right at dusk we saw a doe sneak through under us. It was extremely hot, and the deer were not active at all.
Oct. 19, 2013: The next morning we moved to a new location, a ground blind between two food plots. My dad put a waypoint here with a GPS unit, and it turned out it was waypoint No. 13.
We got in our blind, but the only activity we saw that morning was a large group of turkeys scratching in the food plots. The weather was overcast and muggy as a front passed through.
That afternoon we had light showers, and the deer movement seemed to increase. We saw five bucks and three does. One of the bucks was a nice 8-point, but it was young and immature, so I passed it up.
Oct. 20, 2013: We returned to the ground blind really early the next morning and took a short nap. The weather was a good bit cooler, and the air was crisp and clear.
Around 7:15, we saw a nice 8-point move out of the thicket and into the food plot. We had been keeping a count on the deer we had seen. This was No. 12.
We had already ranged the front of the food plot at about 85 yards. This plot was a small, 1/2-acre Tecomate food plot that was planted with an ATV and a Plotmaster.
I put the scope on the buck and decided he was marginal and decided to wait for another chance at a bigger buck. We watched him move through the food plot and feed for 15 minutes, and he exited.
About 30 minutes later, we saw a huge-bodied deer come out of the same thicket. I put the scope on him and waited to get a good look. It turned out he was the one we were looking at on the trail-cam photos, the deer with the crab claw. I waited for a good broadside shot at about 110 yards and dropped him with my Ruger .308. It turned out he was deer No. 13, my new lucky number.
Thanks GON and Mr. Burley for the hunt of a lifetime.