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September 26: Ben Rising

I have had my sights on this deer all summer. I first spotted him while scouting one of our new properties that we just attained this year for Wolf Creek Outfitters in the early summer months. I was able to get a few trail photos of him with my Reconyx while he was in velvet and then while he was in the process of shedding the velvet and turning hard horned. I quickly named him Slammer. I was able to scout and pattern him from a distance without him ever knowing I was there. I had him pretty well figured out up until two weeks before our season opener. Then he changed his pattern once he was fully hard horned. At this point he was unpredictable. I countinued my quest of watching him. My favorite part of deer hunting is trying to get in the mind of a mature buck and try to figure out what he is thinking and what he will do next. With three days left before I could hunt him I was fairly confident that I had him figured out and had 2 locations picked out to try and hunt him.

I was anxoius to harvest this buck for more than one reason. The obvious being was that I was obsessed with him and ready to add him to my wall. Another being that it would make things so much easier if my Wolf Creek Outfitter partner Jarod and I were able to harvest our bucks and be free to continue concentrating on our hunters that we have coming in soon to hunt with us. Thankfully Tim was gracious enough to give up his and Candice's opening weekend to come down here and film me. I also had a couple of good buddies, Kenny Bevins and James Mugrage, from Indiana give up their time to come and help film also. So we got a game plan in order. Tim and I were going after Slammer, Kenny & Jarod teamed up and Melody & James were going out. Everything was set.

What we didn't anticipate was the rain. There was a heavy overcast all day with just a few drizzles here and there. Regradless we all headed out by 3:30. Everyone was settled in when the rain started. Jarod and Kenny saw a few deer, just not the one that Jarod had been after. Melody and James only had 1 doe with a set of twins come in close, but never gave her an open window. Needless to say they all only ended up soaking wet and freezing, but gratefull and happy to be out on opening day.

I on the other hand, was seeing slow movement with just a few deer in the field. Then HE showed up from across the field. I realized quickly that my scouting and all the time that I had spent raking my brain trying to figure him out was soon going to pay off. It was pouring rain at this point and we were using the palm camera trying desperately to keep it as dry as possible (regardless of our efforts it ended up ruined from the moisture, but the footage was unharmed). It was almost like Slammer was in a trance. He walked at a steady pace straight to me with his head down. He stopped once just before reaching me to eat an acron then stepped forward to make a scrape. He was now in my sights. I got him to stop and my arrow flew. He ran out into the field and staggered a bit and fell. Then he was back on his feet and took a few steps, then laid down. He was DONE!! Shortly after I witnessed one of the strangest things I have ever seen while hunting. Several deer came out and walked straight over to him as if to see what was wrong him. It was then that we knew for sure that we had just harvested the dominant buck of the area. Tim and I waited till dark to climb down and retrieve our trophy. Nothing like reaping the rewards of all your hard work!! I was ovewhelmed to finally be holding his rack in my hands. What a good feeling.

One last thing that I would like to mention. Melody's grandfather Robert Burns, passed away on Aug 24, 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Bob was a great man who loved the outdoors. He was an avid hunter that continued to hunt whitetail up until his health started to fail him a few short years ago. He was without a doubt my biggest fan. We always knew that he was proud and liked to show off the videos (he would even take them to the hospital with him). Even so, we were honestly surprised at his funeral when people we didn't know recognized us because of his constant pursuit of showing everyone who walked through his door and every door he walked through, everything he could possibly show them of my years that I've been with Drury Outdoors. It was kinda funny cuz some even seemed to be a little sick and tired of hearing about it all. I vowed right there at his funeral, that if I was able to pull it off and harvest Slammer, I would do it in his honor.

So Pap-Pap- THIS ONE'S FOR YOU! -Ben Rising