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I have to be honest, I have never worked so hard for a deer in my life, but in that same breath I can tell you that I have never been more proud of a kill and the fact that I got to share it with one of my best friends Bric Steward and now all of you makes it that much better. There were a lot of variables that went into this hunt and a tragedy that almost made it non-existent.

I bought this piece of ground three years ago. It is 80 acres nestled into the vast hardwoods of mid Missouri around Lake of the Ozarks. The first year I was rushed to clean the big over grown field up and just had time for a few small food plots but my 70 acres of mature oak timber was loaded with acorns and the deer were plentiful. Year number two was a smack in the face. There was a bad acorn crop and the deer wiped my plots out early and since the timber was so mature and wide open the deer were scarce come hunting season. I vowed then and there to never let a white oaks ability to produce acorns determine whether I had deer or not. So I brought in a logger to clear some of the mature timber out and let that sunlight hit the forest floor and thicken up the underbrush and create bedding habitat. Then I hired a guy to come in with a loader to push trees to make my food plots bigger. After that the hard work started. My step dad Shannon Lutjen and I spent countless hours getting it ready for hunting season. We started by picking up sticks and rocks in the blistering heat, then broke out the disc, then lime and fertilizer, and finally drilling beans. We thought we had spent our last dreadful day out in the heat, WRONG! The deer absolutely destroyed my 7 acre bean field leaving me scrambling once again to fall plant before the rains stopped. I wanted food that worked during the early part of the season but also was a great winter food source since Bric and I had this late muzzleloader hunt planned. The obvious choice was Biologic Maximum and turnips. I got them in late so I gave them a boost by dropping 30,000 lbs of turkey manure on them and you talk about blowing UP!

So it seems that everything was ready. The deer are loving the Maximum and turnips. I’m getting some really nice bucks on the trail cameras, everything was going as planned until October 24th when I got a phone call from Bric’s wife Rachel telling me he had been in a terrible accident. Bric had gone in with his dad to check a stand and the squirrels had chewed his strap up on the opposite side of the tree, as soon as he put his weight on the stand it gave way sending him 20 feet to the ground and breaking his back! He was rushed two and a half hours away to Evansville Indiana for emergency surgery to repair his crushed L1. He came out of surgery with good news, he told me he would be able to walk again but he had some nerve damage that was going to make a lot of the functions we take for granted very hard for him for quite some time, but I about fell down with the next phrase that cleared his lips. “I promise you I will be there for our late season muzzleloader hunt.” I told him he was crazy and don’t even worry about that, it was only 8 weeks away and we had plenty of time to kill deer just focus on getting better. Amazingly he spent only 5 days in the hospital, did his physical therapy and kept his crazy promise he made from a morphine induced haze.

We finally got a cold snap the week before Bric was coming in and the deer got on the Maximum hard core! I had pictures of 2 ten points that were hitting the field every day in daylight hours and we were both counting the hours down for that first evenings hunt. As we climbed in the shooting house all I could think of were the circumstances that brought this whole hunt together. From meeting Bric in Jamaica of all places to killing a mule deer in Nebraska together, and all the hard work we both had to go through to make this hunt possible. I’m just hoping that old saying rings true “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” And it did, at 4:50 on Dec 18th a whole years worth of preparation met opportunity when one of the tens we were searching for came in for a bite of BioLogic.

We almost had another journal entry 2 nights later as the other ten I nicknamed Quadruple B (Broke Back Bric’s Buck) just missed his demise by 15 yards. It was an amazing hunt and whoever says killing deer is easy needs to give me some lessons… Bric you are the man and an inspiration to us all, love you brother!