After a slow morning hunt on Dec. 21, Shane David decided to stop and pull the memory card from a nearby trail cam on his way in for lunch at his lease near St. Francisville.
What he saw came as a shock: Incredibly, a stud 8-point that no one had ever seen before had been in the food plot that very morning.
So that afternoon David decided to target that box stand — one that he had never hunted in the three years he’d been on the lease — and wound up taking his biggest buck ever only hours later.
“He was on camera at 4:30 that morning for the first time ever and I shot it by 5:30 that evening,” said David, 29, of Walker. “He made it about 12 or 13 hours.
“It was one of those deals where the camera worked out. I’d have never picked that stand in a million years if I hadn’t stopped and grabbed the camera card that morning.”
But David was almost late getting back to the stand overlooking the food plot and a creek bed that afternoon.
A mechanical engineer, he was on his cellphone with his company’s IT department because he was having trouble with his computer. Time was getting short to head out for the hunt, and the repairs could only be made if he was hooked up to a Wi-Fi connection.
“My Wi-Fi when I’m away from the office is my phone as the hotspot, so I carried my laptop and my phone with me to the stand,” David said with a chuckle. “Literally, my computer was set up, my phone was right next to it and she (the IT technician) was doing her deal.
“Then she calls me, which she told me she wasn’t going to do because I told her I was going to the deer stand. So I’m on the phone with her whispering, and finally I get off the phone and sit back like, ‘Thank God that’s done.’ And I could see horns walking up the wood line straight to me.”
But the horns didn’t belong to the big 8 David had seen at lunch on the trail cam photo. They belonged to another 8-point with a broken tine that was on the club’s hit list this season.
“He got all the way to within 60 yards of me broadside, and I kept debating and debating, ‘Am I really gong to let this deer go?’ But I had had that picture of the big deer that morning for the first time ever,” he said. “That was the only reason I even went to that stand, so I let him go and kicked myself for about the next 30 minutes.”
As dusk started to fall, David was having serious second thoughts on letting that buck walk — until he noticed movement along the wood line about 5:20 p.m.
“I’m sitting back in my chair just looking and I saw this nose come into play way down past the food plot in the sand just passed the grass,” he said. “When I saw the rack, I knew it was him instantly. He’s pretty unmistakable.”
The big buck that had been captured in the photo that morning was back, and David’s plan to let the other deer walk was working out perfectly.
Now — with a pretty serious case of buck fever brewing — all he had to do was shoot it from 110 yards with his .35 Whelen.
“I got on him and my scope was everywhere. I kept having to come out of my scope and look the other way at least four or five times,” David said. “About the fifth time I came out of my scope I said, ‘Come on Shane.’
“I took a deep breath, got in there, felt like I was on him and squeezed off. I knew I hit him. He was hurt bad getting out of there.”
The big buck gave a giant kick and ran, crashing over a 20-foot drop-off above the creek bed.
After taking a while to compose himself, David headed down and tracked blood across a sandbar and found the big buck piled up at the foot of some cutover adjacent to the creek.
“Oh my gosh, it wasn’t real I don’t think. I still tell my wife to this day when I look at the pictures that I just can’t believe it …” he said. “It was probably five minutes before I touched his horns. I was just in awe.
“He was such a giant on camera, such a giant in my binoculars and it just got bigger when I got to him. It’s one of those deer when you’re actually there and looking at the horns and touching them, it’s like, ‘Holy cow. No shrinkage — none at all.’”
The heavy-horned 8-point green-scored a whopping 148 ⅜ inches of bone, thanks to 14-inch plus G2s, 6-inch plus bases and a 16-inch inside spread. The big buck weighed 235 pounds, and was estimated to be 5 ½ years old.
“I’ve got four others on the wall now, all of them pretty good — but he’s by far the biggest deer I’ve ever shot,” David said. “I told my wife the TV had to come down above the fireplace to put him up there, and she said, ‘Oh, let’s don’t get crazy.’
“That’s where I want him to go, but I have a hunting room at my house that’s just for all my hunting stuff, so I made room on the center wall for him there.”
Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the rand drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.