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December 1: Tom Ware

In deer hunting, sometimes you’re faced with only two options, to laugh or cry. Chasing an Iowa Booner named Joker and the trick he pulled; Tom couldn’t help but laugh before he had to get serious.  

Talk about history. Tom had years worth of Reconyx pictures and sheds for Joker. Over that time he had grown into a giant six by six and seemed to plateau in 2016. It wasn’t as though this was his first year on the hit list however. He’d been a trophy for a few years; it was just that, true to his name, wherever Tom would hunt, Joker would show up in another location. It began to feel like well-orchestrated gag.

On November 30th it seemed like the running gag might be over.  With Scott Manifold behind the camera and Tom armed with his PSE Carbon Air, Joker stepped out at 35 yards. True to Phase Ten: Revisiting Green, the buck showed himself while coming to a plot of turnips. After fifteen minutes, of grazing, he finally offered a shot by turning broadside.

Tom came to full draw and finally settled a pin on the deer that had eluded him for so long. Joker remained in place with a hunk of turnip hanging out of his mouth. When Tom made the shot, the buck didn’t jump the string, he dove it, completely dropping his chest to the ground as the arrow sailed cleanly over his back. The momentum from his lunge carried him cautiously out to 50 yards where he paused for a momentary look back towards the blind…with the turnip still in his mouth.

No joke. Time to get serious.

Tom was in disbelief but had to laugh as he reviewed the footage that evening. Joker dropped 18 inches at the shot, further proof this was no ordinary deer. Killing Joker was going to require an advanced approach. Tom decided that if he had another encounter with this deer, he’d have to hold one inch below his belly to connect. Joker would run into the arrow.

Back in the same blind on December 1st, Tom and Scott waited for a second chance. At 2:30, Joker reappeared and came to the same spot, but this time, at 40 yards. Tom drew and did one of the most unnatural things a bowhunter can do…aimed for the air just below the buck’s belly. When the shot went off, just as before, Joker hit the deck, but this time he ducked into the path of the Rage Extreme, sending it slicing through his liver.

Joker wouldn’t go 100 yards before finally falling down. The joke was over and Tom had finally harvested a 172 4/8 inch deer that he’d been after for years.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.