Hunter: Tim Zech
Points: 14 (8L, 6R)
After hunting all over the country for whitetails this fall, I would probably not have hunted this particular morning except for the fact that I wanted to help a handicapped hunter get out into the woods. A local fellow and his 10-year-old son have a hard time finding accessible places to hunt out of a wheelchair. The dad lost his leg some time ago, but fortunately I happen to have a few accessible stands that I worked up for my son, who is also in a wheelchair. So before daylight I drove the man and his son into the woods so that they could hunt from what we call the “Deer Hut” which is a converted tower box stand that is on ground level now. It was cold that morning, and my friend’s truck read 22 degrees when I dropped them off at 6:10 AM. I wasn’t sure how long they would be able to hack the cold, so I figured that I would just go sit in a stand until they killed a deer so that I could help them get it out. Doe days were in, and they were hunting for meat. I had a long walk to my stand, which was 1/2 mile back in, so I took my time as to not get too warm in all my heavy clothes. I sat down at 6:50 AM. The woods were amazingly quiet, frosted and cold. I enjoyed the squirrels and texted back and forth to my oldest son Chase, who was hunting our other lease south of Monticello. He had seen a small buck chasing does around his stand. At 8:45 my guest and his son got cold and eased out to their truck that I had parked close by. They said they enjoyed the hunt but didn’t see any deer. I was getting a bit cold as well, and wondered if I should go ahead and head out at the same time. As my son was still seeing deer, I decided to stay in a bit longer. At 9:15 I heard the squirrel’s feet get heavy enough to turn into a deer. Glancing to the top of the hardwood ridge above me, I could see a nice deer slipping along the top of the ridge. At 55 yards, I could see it was a buck moving with his head down through some brush. When he stepped behind a tree, I eased my old Browning Lever Rifle up for a quick view. As he stepped out from behind the tree he raised his head and I could see that he was a “shoot right now” shooter. The direction he was going would lead him over the ridge and out of sight, so I eased the scope behind his shoulder and shot without time to get nervous or overthink it. As I levered another shell into the chamber, I saw small trees being slammed around just over the ridge and I figured he was down. I texted my sons, my twin brother and a couple hunting buddies that I had shot a good one… As I thought more about it, I figured that he was probably laying up there just over the ridge. So after 30 minutes I got down and eased up over the ridge. Sure enough, before I could see any blood I could see the deer belly laying just over the ridge, against the tree I saw shaking. To be honest, the body size of the deer seemed a lot smaller than I thought it would be. But when I saw the rack, it actually was quite a bit larger than I had expected. (I will gladly take that kind of surprise) The 14 points just seemed to come out of every possible spot on his main beams. The Lord had blessed me with my largest buck of my life, and I have been an avid whitetail hunter for 33 years. The rest of the story is one of enjoying the harvest with my family. Both of my sons (including my son Luke that is in the wheelchair) were able to come back and help me load the deer up and get it out of the woods. Many friends and family members came by to the see “The Big One” at the house once we got him out. I am still surprised that this deer showed up in the manner in which he did. Late season bucks are hard to come by, especially ones of this caliber. We had pictures of 5 shooters on our property, but never this one. It amazes me how the good Lord endowed these amazing whitetails with the ability to live and strive off the grid. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in America and to hunt these deer in Georgia.