About 10 minutes later I heard some splashing in the corn field behind me and after a quick glance I could see it was a deer rounding the corner of the field. I quietly got up and turned around so that I could get a shot if one presented itself to me. At this point I did not know if it was a buck or a doe until it stopped in a clearing on the edge of the field about 30-40 yards away from me, facing me. At this time I could see that this was a good-sized buck but I did not focus on the antlers; I knew I would take a shot if I could get one so I turned my focus to my Nikon 3-9 power scope. The deer was standing directly on a game trail that had been used heavily - the same trail the doe used last year when I shot her. There is a 6 to 8-foot drainage ditch all the way around the field and the deer favor this one area to jump the ditch and head into the woods where my stand is located. The buck was still facing me just feeding in the field, but he kept looking over to the hedge row where the raccoon was. I believe the raccoon was still over there making some noise and it was making the buck uneasy. I decided that I needed to take the shot now or I might not have another chance. It was a strong quartering towards shot and when the buck put his head down I placed the cross hairs on the front shoulder and pulled the trigger.
After the shot I pulled the CVA down quickly as the smoke blew by and all I saw was the white of the buck's belly roll in to the ditch. I waited and listened and I didn't hear anything. I MUST HAVE DROPPED HIM!! I reloaded my muzzle loader and climbed down the tree after about 10-15 minutes (and some excited text messaging!). I quietly and slowly walked to the edge of the ditch and there he was! A beautiful 9pt buck weighting at my estimate about 150-160 lbs gross weight. Now the work begins.....he was at the bottom of a muddy drainage ditch and I was hunting alone. I can only imagine the laughs someone got if they were watching me try to pull this buck out of the ditch into the field!! Needless to say I used a few choice words before finally getting him into the field where I could drag him into the woods to field dress him. It was a lot of work but well worth it!
This buck must have been fighting another buck last year as his left ear was split right up the middle and had healed over. It was not fresh from this year but must have happened last year. It was something I had never seen before. After some picture taking I got the game cart and got him into the truck. I decided that I would mount him and I choose Avery Taxidermy to do the job for me. The work I've seen of his looks great and when I first moved here I did some research and his was the name I had bookmarked for just this!
Not every day hunting is a day we'll shoot a big buck like this but when those days do come it is very exciting. I can't wait to see the mount when it is finished to cherish the memories of this hunt for years to come. Not to mention my freezer is looking much less empty now that I have lots of fresh venison in it which is the primary reason I hunt! The fact that this was a trophy buck was just icing on the cake!
I've added all the pictures below as well as in our gallery.