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September 17: Tom Ware

The season opened in Missouri on the 15th but the temperatures were too hot and a cold front was coming, so my buddy Scott Manifold and I decided to wait until the evening of the 18th for our opening day hunt. 

Reconyx had given us a lot of MRI on a certain buck we named Max. He was entering a food plot of Biologic Clover Plus during daylight hours and this could only mean good things for this time of year. I knew that many bucks  could be patterned during this short phase in September. We had the right weather conditions for the hunt and we acted on them. 

He couldn't have read the script any better as he stepped out into the clover  with over 20 minutes of legal shooting light left.  He was a mere 22 yards from our elevated ground blind as my heart started to thump. That feeling NEVER gets old!! When my heart starts beating like that...I know I'm going to shoot the deer. There was no question on this one. He was much larger than the Reconyx pictures showed and his rack sat taller off his head than I had expected. 
As I came to full draw I tried to slow my heartbeat and settle the pin on his vitals but early season jitters must have played a role as I shot high above the lungs. My emotions were mixed because I didn't realize I had shot so high at first until I reviewed the footage. My heart went from a raging thump and fell into my stomach!  

We decided to wait until the next day to look for him and went in about 10 AM and scoured the farm. We found some blood and followed it until there was just no more. It looked like he clotted and he would be fine.  

My mind was at ease that he would live for me to hunt another day until…
I received a call a few days later from my neighbor that he had found my buck. I had given him permission just one hour before to cross the fence on to my farm to look for a cow that he had lost. He called me after he crossed and stumbled upon my buck that he had found dead. The Rage Broadhead must have either clipped the top of a lung or hit and nipped an artery?  

I rushed over to my Missouri farm and was so full of mixed emotions. Bitter Sweet!  I am a person who always tries to harvest the meat from the animals that I shoot or at least donate them to a good cause. This could not happen in this situation. The meat had spoiled and I felt terrible!!!
I was glad that at least we found him and the animals did not drag him off, never to be found or seen again.

He was a beautiful animal that was four years old and had blown up tremendously from his three-year-old season pictures. 

The ironic thing about this entire hunt was the very last time I hunted my farm was last year on December 20th, 2014 out of the same elevated ground blind.  On that hunt I was able to harvest a 168 inch buck we called Freshman. I have a picture of those 2 bucks in 2014 together in the food plot and I was blessed enough to be able to harvest both deer in 2 consecutive hunts in 2 different years. It was a miracle he was found and I praise God for that miracle!  

It's not the way I would have written the script but it's a true ending to this story. 

Good luck to everyone this season!

Tom Ware