John's Journal...

Click to enlargeTWO ON BUCKS

Buddy Hunting the Giles Island Monster

EDITOR’S NOTE: What would you do if you discovered where a trophy buck lived? Would you bet that this older-age-class deer wouldn't die or get killed before the next hunting season? And, if you didn't bag this big buck yourself, would you willingly share him with a buddy? Many hunters face these questions each season when they hunt big bucks. Before you answer, consider some of the reasons buddy hunting is better than hunting alone.

Click to enlargeJim Riley and Chad Pugh of Ferriday, Louisiana, who hunt together, in 2001, bagged the biggest non-typical buck ever taken on Giles Island in Mississippi. Speed Bancroft, owner of the island, had spotted the huge deer in 1998 and had become concerned that the buck might die of natural causes before a hunter could harvest him. So he asked Riley and Pugh to try to take the big buck with a bow. "Chad and I traded-out hunts," Riley explains. "On one hunt he'd take the bow, and I'd take the camera. On the next hunt, I'd get to take the bow, and Chad would carry the camera. We didn't hunt the buck every day, however. We only hunted him six times, and we made sure that we had the right wind and weather conditions so we wouldn't spook the buck out of the area."

On four occasions when Riley and Pugh hunted the buck, they spotted him. But the deer never came within bow range. Then, on one cold December day, Riley said to Pugh, "Let's go hunt the 16 pointer." Although the two hunters saw a large number of does and young bucks coming to a field, they didn't spot the big buck until Click to enlargelate in the afternoon. "I looked up on a hill and whispered to Chad, 'I see him on top of that hill,'" Riley says. "Chad then moved the camera and zoomed in on the big buck." Although Riley didn't know for sure if he'd actually seen the monster buck, Pugh whispered, "I see him too, Jim. You'd better get ready."

“I'd hunted deer all my life, but this buck made me nervous," Riley states. "Too, I'd never before taken a buck on Giles Island. I couldn't believe that I'd have a chance to take a trophy buck on the island. I started breathing hard, and I felt a big knot develop in my throat. My heart beat so loudly that I didn't even hear Chad say, 'I have my camera on him,' when the buck came in close enough to take the shot." Riley got so focused on taking the deer with his bow that he completely forgot about his hunting buddy, the tree stand and the rest of the world around him. In the zone that only hunters who have had the opportunity to take a monster buck know or understand, Riley had that out-of-body hunting experience where nothing seemed to exist except you and the big buck in front of you. "I Click to enlargeconcentrated on a little hole in the brush to shoot through when the buck came within range," Riley recalls. "I knew I had to pull my bow to full draw when the buck hit that spot. So just before the buck moved to the hole, I drew my bow." But then the does in the field behind Riley spotted him and sprinted away. Riley heard the does running behind him, but he stood frozen in time at full draw. When the buck stepped into the hole, Riley released the arrow. The buck had walked up to within seven steps from the base of Riley's tree when the arrow found its mark. The massive buck, now a 17 pointer, only ran about 75 yards before piling up on the ground. The buck weighed 260 pounds, gross-scored 182 Boone and Crockett points and netted 176 3/4 B&C. Two hunters buddy hunting definitely paid off with this monster.


Check back each day this week for more about TWO ON BUCKS

Day 1: The Dilemma
Day 2: Buddy Hunting the Giles Island Monster
Day 3: Double-Calling Bucks
Day 4: Hollow Hunting Bucks
Day 5: Other Advantages of Buddy Hunting



Entry 334, Day 2