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December 12: Terry Drury

CULMINATION OF EVENTS

On the very first day of Missouri’s 2009 bow season, I was sitting in a tree with camera man Aaron Bennett when I made the comment “just watch, the rut will be better in December than in November, the moon has this rut messed up already, it’s just a little too early this year!”. Little did I know how true that statement would turn out to be.

Fast forward 75 days….

As November came to a close and Missouri’s rifle seasons faded away with the last shots, we were ready for the month of December. We knew that the full moon was due on December 2nd, and there would be does popping into estrus 7-10 days afterward. Although we lucked out on a nice buck on opening weekend of gun season, we noticed the November rut was rather subdued compared to previous seasons. As a firm believer in the moon’s influence on whitetail deer, this was no surprise. In fact, we had expected the 2nd rut to be more intense than in November. And, if we could receive a blast of cold weather, it would only sweeten the deal.

As if on cue with our expectations, an arctic blast full of snow and sleet came blowing in across the Midwest. The temps plummeted into the single digits, and 3 inches of snow covered the ground! The extreme conditions forced the deer to go into their winter feeding patterns, and the standing bean fields lit up with hordes of hungry whitetails every afternoon. Not only was it fun to watch lots of deer feeding around us, but we knew that if a doe came into estrus, she could drag a shooter onto the field at any given time!

Just as we had hoped, the bucks started to show themselves! We played cat and mouse with a giant named "Big Heavy" for three days on the same bean field, but couldn’t let loose an arrow at him. We also saw a couple of nice bucks in the distance that we thought were shooters. The cold weather was starting to heat things up, and it was time to get serious….

On December 11th we had an encounter with a deer that we had been waiting for all year. The massive buck’s name was "Mr. Christmas". He earned his name from all of the non-typical points sprouting from his right side, kind of like a Christmas tree. He popped out behind us with a doe and followed her into a draw. Twenty minutes later we could hear him grunting, growling, and chasing smaller bucks out of the draw. He never offered us a shot that night, but we figured we might have a chance if we returned the following day.

We slipped into the same stand the next afternoon, hoping that "Mr. Christmas" would follow that little doe right past our position. We figured that she was in heat and he was not going to leave her side. Sure enough, the little doe appeared with "Mr. Christmas" in tow! They walked into the standing corn and disappeared for about fifteen minutes. Suddenly, the doe squirted out of the corn and ran into the beans. The old monarch was right behind her and started to trot out to the beans. He slipped past my shooting lanes faster than I had anticipated, but I managed to stop him at 43 yards. I released my arrow and watched the shot of a lifetime sail over his back. I was in complete disbelief as he bounded safely away. Devastated… wasn’t the word to describe my feelings... I had waited all of my life for that opportunity and blew it. Just blew it. I sat in my tree, as dejected as a bow hunter could possibly feel.

I debated climbing out and leaving, but we decided to stay put after plenty of convincing from Aaron. With does starting to come into heat, maybe another shooter might show up. This was mainly hopeful thinking, we didn’t actually expect for another big shooter to walk out by us. All of a sudden, as if by some divine intervention from the deer gods, a buck we knew quite well appeared in the field. He was following two does, and they were headed right for us! The tall tined giant must have read the Drury playbook, because he walked right past our perch, and stopped for us with a slightly quartering away angle at 29 yards. I zipped the Rage into his blood pumper, and he barely made it out of the field before crashing!!

We nicknamed this deer "The Dave Grither Shed Buck" because Dave Grither, a good friend, found both of the shed antlers last spring. This deer was super nocturnal and we had never laid on eyes on him before. All of my Reconyx pics were at night, so we weren’t sure if we would ever see him walk in daylight. It’s amazing what a little doe during the 2nd rut can make a big buck do!!!

From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in a matter of thirty minutes or less, the hunt made for an unbelievably dramatic culmination of events!