September 26: Doug Hampton

After working in Ohio on the pipeline for the past 3 years, I've seen first hand that this state has some awesome whitetails.  The past two seasons I have made the trip up here from Arkansas with no success.  last season however, I did draw my PSE bow on a 165" 10 pt., only to be called off due to camera light.  This fall I had planned to go back to my friends property in southern Ohio where I had hunted the past 2 seasons.  Just 10 days before season, I was informed that he would be working 7 days and would not be able to hunt or film.  To say I was in trouble was an understatement.  I had been given permission on several pieces of ground around Canton, yet did not have a single shooter on my Reconyx cameras.

      Desperation time had set in.  I just couldn't stand the fact that I'd be leaving Ohio without even getting an opportunity to hunt.  To put it lightly, my hunt was over before it started.  I had stated on Facebook, that if anyone knew of a good spot in southern Ohio, to please message me the info.  A few hours later the manager for Ohio Premier Trophy Outfitters in Adams county Ohio, sent me a message with the rates and dates.  Ohio Premier Trophy Outfitters is in their first season taking clients.  He had posted a link to the website just under his phone number.  While trying to click on the link, I accidentally hit his number.  The phone began ringing, but rather than hanging up quickly, I decided to just hear what he had to say.  After a brief conversation, he began sending me pictures of several giant bucks which they had been scouting and patterning all summer.  With my back already against the wall, this definitely looked like a prime opportunity to have a chance at an early season whitetail.  I booked the hunt and began getting everything prepaired for the days ahead. 

     It didnt take long after arriving on September 25th to see that Ohio Premier Trophy Outfitters were going all out to run a first class outfit.  The Lodge, or should I say Lodges, were way too nice for what a redneck country boy from Arkansas was used to.  I was just hoping that the hunting would follow suit.  The 26th was spent going over trail cam pics and aerial maps of different stand locations.  A set of Big Game treestands were hung in a pinch point on a late planted beanfield. A huge main-framed 8 point with several kickers had been spending alot of time hanging around this particular bean field. On several occasions, the guides had slipped into this particular set and videoed the big 8 while he was still in velvet. After looking at the current game cam pics, he was sticking to the pattern. Although there were several bigger bucks on the 2000 plus acres of ground we had to hunt, this deer sparked my interest due to the amount of velvet footage previously captured. 

    The first morning was upon us.  5 other clients were in and were headed out. The buck we had targeted was showing in the morning as well, but I elected to sit out and wait for the evening to minimize the chance of blowing him out.  In our opinion, It was our best chance to seal the deal.

    We headed early that evening and got situated. We had been in the stand for less than an hour when the first deer entered the field.  Around 6pm, the parade began. Several doe and fawns came in and worked their way to us.  Not long after, the first small buck came out and began eating on the beans. He was out for a few minutes before snapping his head around and staring into the woods.  A few minutes later, the big 8 stepped out and began surveying the field. Right behind him, a nice main-framed 12 point stepped out.  It took both deer almost an hour to make their way to our location.  The 150+ inch 12 pt walked by at 28 yards, while the big 5 year old 8 stayed behind about 50 yards. There was a moment when the old "bird in the hand" saying popped into my head, but my heart was still on the big 8! Several minutes passed as the buck inched his way closer and closer.  At 30 yards he turned broadside.  I quickly ranged him with the Nikon range finder to be certain before the shot.  I clipped the release, drew back the DNA, and settled the pin a touch lower in anticipation for the drop.  I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.  The buck never moved an inch at the shot, but the Rage Hypodermic still found the vitals. He spun and went back in the direction which he had come from, stopping just 40 yards away.  I quickly raised my Nikon's to try to see the shot placement.  I liked what I saw and knew the shot was definitely fatal. Once again, the Rage had done a phenomenal job. He made it to the edge of the woods and slowly entered them for his final time. Not seeing him fall on camera, we decided to back out. The temperature was falling fast and was expected to get in the upper 40's, which made our decision to leave him even easier .

    It was a long night to say the least, but at daylight we were standing at the blood soaked arrow.  A quick 150 yards later, we were standing at the buck high fiving and absolutely excited over the way he had grown on the ground!  He had said he was going to be in the 60's, though I figured he'd be a 50's type buck.  After one look at his mass and huge 8 point frame, I knew I had undershot him big time!  After getting him tagged, called in, and dressed out, we began to tape him at the skinning shed.  After the wait was over, I was pleased to find out that he was just 2 & 3/8 inches from being a gross Boone. He's officially my 2nd largest buck to date at 167 & 5/8 inches Pope & Young.

   To look back and see how this played out in such a short amount of time amazes me... Just 10 days before, I was distraught with no shooters on camera.  My entire Ohio early season plan had been demolished.  I was the least excited about opening the season as I could ever remember. Thanks to the Good Lord, and an accidental phone call to Ohio Premier Trophy Outfitters, It has been the best start a man could ask for!  I guess that fate was on my side, and some things are just meant to be...

    Special thanks to the guides Ezra Inman, and Justin Carman for all the time and Effort spent patterning and monitoring their deer herd.  The food and hospitality were first class thanks to Doris Swayne and Brian Kenny.  But most important, thanks to My Lord and savior Jesus Christ for taking care of me on this hunt, and for letting me pursue my dreams of chasing big bucks all over the country. He's blessed me no doubt, and I am truly thankful!

    Good luck to all those starting your season shortly, and stay safe! - Doug Hampton