My first two weeks of October were spent bow hunting in Ohio. I had initially planned on staying 5 days and then coming home to hang stands & cameras in my home state of Arkansas. After passing several deer at Ohio Premier Trophy Outfitters, I was getting further & further behind. I knew I'd have to put my dreams of killing a true world class deer on hold after no sightings of him from the stand. He stayed on the cameras at night, but was mostly nocturnal. 

Arriving in Arkansas, I quickly made it over to my lease in the Mississippi River bottoms to hang my Reconyx cameras. Rod was talking about driving down to film the next week for the Arkansas Muzzleloader season, but his work schedule was sketchy at best. Arriving at The Wild Goose ( an old country store/restaurant) I ran across a man named Kyle Vansickle. Kyle is a commercial fisherman that has a huge passion for bowhunting whitetails. Kyle and I had spent hours over the past few years just talking about whitetails & hunting. I told Him that I'd be returning on the 2nd day of the muzzleloader season to hunt for 6 days and may not have anyone to run the camera. Kyle offered up his time if need be and we spoke back & forth for the next few days. Rod called and could not get off of work, so the plan was set for Kyle and I to return the following weekend to begin our hunt.

The first 2 evenings were eventful, seeing several nice bucks. We were struggling getting a shooter on the Reconyx cameras, so we basically hunted several locations to try to just see one on his feet. The 3rd afternoon, Kyle was not available to film. I took my camera and Traditions muzzleloader to the stand to self-film/scout for a mature buck. After several hours, I saw a buck that was about 100 yards out in the brush. He was mature with a tall rack & looked like he was a deer I wanted. After getting good footage, but deciding not to take the shot, I watched as several deer used the same pinch point between several downed tops from last years logging operations. The next morning I hung a brand new set of stands that put me right where I'd need to be if the buck did a repeat performance. The following afternoon, we hunted the set without the big deer showing up. I hung a Reconyx camera in the pinch point to monitor the activity. We gave the area a rest on Thursday afternoon & returned Friday morning after hunting to find that the deer Kyle named "Mufasa" was not only there the following evening, but just hours before checking the camera as well. It was a no-brainer now! We would crawl back in the newly hung set knowing that he was in the immediate area. 

Rain was setting in, so we took our camera tree umbrella to keep the hunt alive for 1 last evening. South Arkansas was experiencing drought conditions & we felt like the rain would get the deer up early. The barometric pressure was still holding at 30.18 and we were excited about the buck frequenting the area the last evening. We had that feeling that we were going to see him and that we were hanging within a few hundred yards of his bed.

At 3 pm we were settled in. The first few deer showed at 5 and began feeding on acorns and browse working their way past us. At 5:50, I caught movement of a rack coming from about 150 yards out. It was a short tined, yet massive deer that I knew from the Reconyx, and I was debating on whether or not I wanted to take the buck or not. I told Kyle to get on the buck and then reached for the Traditions. Turning around to get set up for a possible shot, I caught movement from a deer about 60 yards away. It was Mufasa and he was coming straight for us! I made sure Kyle was on the right buck and then took careful aim. When the shot was fired, all I could see was smoke. The buck whirled and Kyle followed him as he ran about 50 yards and then stopped... I said "did I miss?!!!" Kyle said "heck no!", as the deer wobbled to the right and then fell in full frame! We exploded in celebration as the hunt came to an awesome conclusion!

As always, thanks to God for the awesome success he's blessed me with over the years. Thanks to my wife Brandy Hampton for putting up with my passion for hunting. And thanks to Kyle Vansickle for the last minute fill in on camera and laying down an awesome hunt. Good luck to everyone the rest of the season and stay safe!