This past week was the most epic hunting week that the Spring Creek Coop has ever had. Since we started the trophy management Coop nine years ago, it continues to get better each year. This past week I was extremely fortunate to share in the success by harvesting a buck that we called “Skyscraper.” Here is the abridged version of the legend.
We started watching Skyscraper 3 years ago and knew from the start that he had tremendous potential. Last year as a 4.5 year old buck he grew a very impressive rack. We all decided to let him go one more year in hopes that he would turn into something really special. This summer when we started running cameras we discovered that he did not disappoint.
In the days leading up to opening weekend we had him on a good pattern feeding in one of our peanut fields and were in a great position to connect. My younger brother Harrison was to get the first crack at him on opening day. As the sun started to set deer began pouring in on their way to the field. Just before it was too dark to see a big buck came into range and Harrison had to act fast. He quickly confirmed that it was skyscraper, took the shot and dropped the buck in his tracks. When he climbed down to retrieve his harvest he realized that it was a trophy 10 pointer, but it wasn’t Skyscraper. We all congratulated him on his trophy but could feel his disappointment that it was the wrong buck.
Two weeks later Skyscraper started to show up again. My older brother Mike was next. An hour after daylight he spotted the beast coming in. His heart rate rose as he grabbed his bow and prepared for a shot. Just as he crossed into bow range something fell out of a nearby tree and spooked the buck just out of bow range. Mike watched helplessly as he worked his way out of site.
One week later it was my turn so I got into the stand an hour before daylight. 30 minutes later I saw the silhouette of a deer come into range. I put up my binoculars to see if it was him. After a few minutes I determined that it was a buck, but it wasn’t Skyscraper. 10 minutes after he moved on I saw another deer coming in. As I put my binoculars up the unique shape of his rack was a dead giveaway. As the reality sunk in that it was Skyscraper my heart rate doubled instantly. I held my bow pins up to realize that it was still way too early to shoot. I waited patiently, holding my pins up every minute waiting for light. Finally my heart rate had calmed down, he was at 24 yards and I could see my pins well enough to ensure a good shot. I clipped my release to the bow string and started to draw. Suddenly, half way through my draw, someone at a nearby road yells at a passing truck “Hey!” It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Skyscraper instantly spooked and headed for the wood line. I instinctively made a sound to stop him while I finished my draw. As he stopped to look back, unsure of the exact yardage, I aimed and released an arrow.
I could tell that the arrow hit him but it was still a little too dark to tell exactly where. I was in shock. The situation went from a cool calm and collected 24 yard shot to a full blown panic in 1 second. Given the uncertainty of the shot, I called a tracking dog to help us. We instantly got on a good blood trail and started to track him towards the creek. Every time we came around a bend or over a hill I was anxiously hoping we would see him. After 400 yards we hit a creek. The dog went from locked in on the trail to confused. For hours we searched in circles and couldn’t figure out if he had crossed it, turned around, swam up or down. 6 hours later the dogs we tired and we had to call off the search. The worst part about calling off a search was the uncertainty. In many cases a big buck will survive a bow shot if the placement isn’t just right but the unknown left an unimaginable feeling in my stomach. So we planned to come back the following weekend to continue to the search. 3 days later, hurricane Michael hit, making our planned follow up search impossible.
We all tried to remain upbeat about the season but the disappointment of losing Skyscraper was impossible to ignore. 6 weeks went by of running cameras and no sign of him. We felt certain that he was gone. Then, the week of Thanksgiving, he showed back up on camera. After 6 weeks of laying low and healing he looked as healthy as ever. We all rejoiced knowing that he made it. The hunt was back on! This past Thursday morning my Dad was walking to his stand at daybreak when he encountered a group of buzzards on a power line tower. All at once they flew away and spooked a buck from beneath into a nearby wood line. My dad couldn’t make out what it was and continued to his stand. 5 minutes later the buck came back out. My Dad put his binoculars up and immediately saw it was big. After further examination he realized it was him. By the time he made the connection Skyscraper slipped into a thicket. He called my older brother Mike to come join thinking that he remained bedded down in the power line in some thick brush. They rattled a little and waited patiently for him to come out. An hour later, they saw a doe cross the power line and to their amazement Skyscraper was behind her. They had no idea how he had slipped by them originally but he had, and there he went. After crossing at over 400 yards, the hunt was over.
The next day my Dad and I went to the spot where he had crossed the previous morning and fixed up a stand that had been damaged by the hurricane. Saturday morning, long before daylight I was back in the woods in pursuit of Skyscraper. The weather was cold, a strong winter front was closing in and the rut was in full swing. Shortly after day light the deer activity started and it didn’t stop all morning. By 8am I had 3 different does being chased by multiple bucks all around me. With all of the recent rain they couldn’t avoid the water as they chased and splashed their way around. I remember thinking if Skyscraper is within ½ mile from here he had to hear all of the commotion. One of the does that was being chased disappeared as she ran a big loop through the creek swamp. 5 minutes later she emerged from the woods, stopped in the power line and looked behind her. Suddenly Skyscraper stepped out of the wood line. I had been anticipating that moment for an hour so I was quick to act and was thankful to make a good shot.
Although I was the one fortunate enough to harvest this legendary buck, it was truly a team win. I want to thank my brothers and my Dad for all of their efforts and for sharing in the excitement. And I want to thank everyone who is a member of the Spring Creek Coop. Without the continued united efforts of the group, harvesting a buck like Skyscraper would never have been possible. May we continue the fun and fellowship and may we always be good stewards of the land and animals that the good Lord has blessed us with.