Effective stand placement helps hunter bag a bruiser

When Allen Morgan of Brookhaven, Miss., happened upon a larger-than-usual scrape on his hunting property in Lawrence County, he instinctively knew that the buck that made the scrape was anything but ordinary. Although the scrape line had been there for several years, Morgan had never seen a scrape so large, especially in that particular hunting area, which isn’t known for producing trophy whitetails.

Anxious to see the beast that had made such a monstrous scrape, Morgan rushed home to retrieve one of his trail cameras. It was Dec. 4. Only two days later, Morgan checked the images on the camera, and couldn’t believe what he saw. The bruiser sported a 16-point rack comprised of a typical 12-point main frame with four kickers added on for good measure.

“It was the biggest buck I had ever seen on that particular property,” Morgan said. “I immediately started scouting the area harder than ever.

“I wanted that buck in the worst way.”

Based on the location of the rubs and scrapes in the vicinity, Morgan was able to locate the buck’s core area. He surmised that the buck was using a 3-year-old cutover, located about 150 yards from the scrape line, as its bedding area. In addition, Morgan located an acorn flat adjacent to the scrape line and the cutover that deer had been actively feeding on.

“I decided to hang three of my lock-on stands on different sides of the cutover so that I could hunt the buck regardless of the wind direction,” Morgan said. “One stand overlooked a trail leading from the cutover to the acorn flat, while the other two stands were strategically placed over well-used trails leading to the scrape line.”

On the first evening, Morgan heard a buck grunt once out in the cutover. Then just before dark, a doe slipped out of the south side of the thicket and fed past Morgan’s stand. As darkness enveloped him, Morgan began gathering up his gear to head home. But before he was able to begin climbing down, a familiar sound broke the silence.

From out in the darkness, Morgan could make out the sounds of a buck rubbing and thrashing trees with its antlers only 50 yards away from his stand.

“It drove me wild,” said Morgan. “Hearing the buck but not being able to see him in the darkness was almost more than I could take. However, knowing that the giant buck was that close to my stand really boosted my confidence.”

Fortunately, the wind allowed Morgan to hunt the stand 15 more times. And even though he remained vigilant, Morgan saw only two does and a spike the entire time he hunted the stand. The following evening, the wind changed direction making the north stand along the scrape line a more preferred choice.

Right at dark, Morgan heard a buck grunt out in the cutover. Moments later the buck ran a hot doe out of the cutover and directly under Morgan’s stand. However, the low light conditions made it impossible to distinguish whether it was the big 16-pointer he was looking for.

Morgan was eager to return to the stand the next morning. The conditions were perfect with a slight breeze blowing out of the cutover located 60 yards to the left of his stand and directly toward an old creek bed 60 yards to his right. As daylight broke, a deer snorted from across the creek. Morgan quickly responded by blowing softly on his grunt tube, which he had brought along for the first time all season. The soft grunt seemed to settle the deer down somewhat.

At around 6:45 a.m., three does crossed the creek and cautiously worked their way past Morgan’s perch. At one point, the trio stopped and looked up at the hunter sitting in his stand. Apparently they were unable to make him out against the thick canopy of limbs, and proceeded down the trail that crossed the old logging road Morgan used to gain access to his stand. Hoping the big buck might be following the three does, Morgan continued to glance back over his shoulder at the logging road.

As Morgan turned his head to check the crossing yet again, he was startled by what he saw. Standing broadside in the middle of the logging road only 60 yards away was the buck of his dreams. Because of the dense cover around his stand, Morgan had only one opening to shoot through, and the monster’s chest cavity was centered directly in that opening. Not one to pass up such a gift, Morgan shouldered his rifle and dropped the giant buck in his tracks.

The massive 5½-year-old 16-pointer weighed in at only 165 pounds, but taped out at over 164 inches of antler.