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Ryan Ford’s 14-pointer

November 16, 2009

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 14

Kill Date: Nov. 16, 2009

County: Washington

Season: Bow

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of Nashville bow hunter Ryan Ford is the story of his hunt for a 14-point Washington County buck.

The quest for Captain Hook began last year when I “hooked” up one friend with another. No I am not a dating co-insurer; I am talking about a hunter and a landowner. 

A friend of mine, Jason, was looking for a good place to hunt that would be close enough that he could hunt before and after work, so I introduced him to another friend and local farm family.  They hit it off from the start and agreed upon a set lease for the year.  The farm consists of several rolling crop fields, pasture ground, a creek, fence rows, and small timber patches.  The ground is surrounded by larger woods and several more set-aside acres. 

Jason scouted the area and put up several stands in various locations to accommodate deer movement and wind direction.  I had the privilege of hunting with him one time last year.  I set up my climber along a heavy creek crossing, while Jason ventured on south into a small grassy meadow.  He called the area his honey hole, because he had placed a scouting camera near his stand and had captured two mature Pope and Young Bucks traveling through the area at night. 

Most of the pictures were from 12–2 a.m. leaving Jason with buck fever and a glimmer of hope that one of the brutes would wonder into shooting range in daylight hours.  We saw a variety of does that evening, but no monster bucks.

Soon after that hunt I visited Jason and he showed me the impressive photos of the bucks.  The first buck they nicknamed Medusa because it had a multitude of points in every direction possible.  He was very massive and looked to be pretty wide.  The second buck was a heavy body deer with equally impressive mass and a strange upward hook off his right G2, leaving him the nickname of Captain Hook. 

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

The large standing corn field south of the stand seemed to be the location of choice for these bruisers during the day, because Jason hunted in this stand anytime the wind was right, but never got even a glimpse of the real deal.  Jason and a couple of his other friends were able to put meat in the freezer via 4 does that were killed off the property in 2008.  So the dreams of Captain Hook slowly faded after the 2008 bow season was over. 

So this brings us to the 2009 season; Jason decided not to lease the property again this year, because he had several other places he could hunt for free.  So besides a couple of family members spending a little time in the woods, this 500+ acre property set idle for most of this year.  I only get to hunt a few days a year, due to a busy work schedule and three young kids at home, so I try to pick my days in the woods very carefully.  I usually shoot for the 5-6 days before the first shotgun season, because I only bow hunt. 

This time of the year seams to be the best opportunity for me to fill my freezer and possibly get a wall hanger thanks to the rut.  My first day out in the stand was Monday, Nov. 16th.  I went back to my family’s farm and hunted with my brother most of the day.  This property usually produces some high-quality bucks, but the standing corn in the area interfered with any encounters with big whitetail that day. 

Illinois hunting and fishing

On the way home that night, I decided to call my landowner friend and see if I could possibly hunt on his property the rest of that week.  He was glad to accommodate my request and said he would meet me at the farm the next day.  At about 12:30 I pulled up to the farm, where he was waiting on me.  I followed him through a locked gate and across a couple of field roads.  I mentioned to him that I would like to hunt near the grassy meadow where the night pictures were taken, so he led me toward that area. 

It had rained about two inches the night before; leaving the creek too deep to cross.  This caused me to add about one-quarter mile onto my trek to the meadow.  Once I got to the edge of the grassy area, I sat my climber and other gear down and ventured around the area for a closer look.  Several rubs and tracks surrounded the meadow, leaving no doubt that this could be a hotspot for deer and big bucks. 

I found a tall ash tree that was about 30 yards from the south edge of the property and 35 yards east of the creek.  The tree leaned slightly to the southwest allowing me sit comfortably facing the northeast at about 26 feet above the ground.  By the time I was finally situated in the tree and ready to settle in for a great afternoon hunt it was already 2:30 p.m.  I spanned the area visualizing where the bucks would be coming from.  I had a clear shooting path to most of the one-acre grassy meadow that contained a number of ash trees. 

I could see one-half mile to the south overlooking a harvested bean field and 100 yards to the north and east which consisted of corn stalks.  I couldn’t see anything passed the creek on the west side, it was thick brushy mess, but I could shoot all the way to the creek without any obstructions. 

At 2:50 p.m., I was sitting comfortably in my stand, when my phone started buzzing.  Randy, another friend of mine was checking to see where I was hunting at.  In his last text, he said I will pray for a successful hunt and your safety.  I was very appreciative of that but had no idea what was about to happen. 

I just glanced at my watch, which was exactly 3 p.m., when I heard cracking leaves to the southwest.  I slowly twisted to the right side of the tree and looked in the direction of the noise, when I saw a huge set of antlers coming my way.  I knew that this was either Medusa or Captain Hook.

Sitting on the northeast side of the tree, allowed me to stand up undetected.  I reached for my Hoyt bow noticing that the buck had just jumped the fence on the south end of the property only 30 yards away.  I quickly attached my release and drew back.  The large buck graciously stopped 27 yards west of my stand broadside.  As he sniffed the ground I said a little prayer of my own and released my carbon arrow.

The buck jumped and darted off as soon as the Rage 3-blade broadhead pierced his right chest.  In a few seconds the woods became instantly quiet.  I could no longer hear breaking branches or splashing water.  The only noise came from my over zealous pump fist and thanks to God.  While properly waiting 30 minutes to track my trophy, I must have called a least a dozen people sharing my excitement; including Randy to thank him for the prayer and Jason for directing me to his honey hole. 

Before I climbed down I glanced toward the area the massive deer exited the scene.  Blood was very visible from my tree, so beginning my search was pretty easy.  The creek bank was covered with bright red blood for about 20 yards.  The deer finally climbed the rest of the way up the creek and collapsed 10 yards further. 

Wow what a deer.  It was definitely Captain Hook, he had grown a matching hook on his left side, added mass, and grew 4 more points.  His body was almost as impressive as his well crafted antlers.  It was huge. 

I tried lugging Captain Hook toward the creek, but I realized this was a hopeless endeavor.  I called Jason, Randy, and another friend to help me get him out.  It took all four of us to get him across the creek to the 4-wheeler. 

He weighed 240 poundsfield dressed, green scored 188 1/8, and had 14 points.  His first three circumference measurements were nearly 6 inches.  Hopefully the tale of Captain Hook will linger for many years to come, especially through his offspring. 

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Thats one heck of a buck and story!! Thanks for sharing. - Dave

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/02 at 10:34 PM

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