December 16: Jared Lurk

The Hunt for Hightower:

As I sit to write this story, two things strike me: 1.) I currently have a significant amount of writer’s block and 2.) the last half decade of bow hunting is flashing through my mind!

I’ll begin where it all started, August of 2006…at that time we were using wild life eyes. There was a particularly large framed 3 ½ year old 8 point that struck my eye, I named him – Hightower, because of how high his rack came off of his head. Because he was only 3 ½ , he didn’t make the “hit” list. Hopes were high he’d survive the season and grow even bigger in 07! And to our delight – he did!

We had one good video encounter with him in 07 – during the lock down phase of the rut - Justin was filming and Hightower was locked on a doe - like white on rice…

The summer of 2008 found us using Reconyx cameras - and the pictures were spectacular. Hightower was now 5 ½. We spent the lion’s share of the season trying to make him a star on Bow Madness. He would have none of it. Both Justin and Chad Flynn filmed me encounter Hightower that season, each time he was just outside of bow range…

In 2009, there were two Giants on the farm, Hightower and the October 8th Miss – Chad Flynn filmed me miss that deer on October the 8th the prior season (08), thus the name! Thankfully I did – because in 09, he blew! The early morning of November 15th found us in a good spot, and at first light the October 8th miss was following a doe and Justin filmed it all! The significance of this: it was my second largest deer to date and as we finished the celebration in the tree….you guessed it, Hightower walked within bow range and had picked up the freshly available doe! We couldn’t believe it, first time he was killable and the tag in my pocket was just punched a few moments prior! All we could do was watch and wonder what might have been!!

2010 and 2011 were filled with several encounters just outside of bow range. The more I followed this deer and used the Reconyx cameras to better understand him…I quickly realized how little I actually knew. Uncle Mark made the comment – he’s either really good at being a deer or you are really bad at being a bow hunter! In short, there’s a lot of truth to that statement! ;-)

In 2012, EHD had hit the farm – hard! Hightower seemed to survive, but he certainly was affected. He didn’t shed his velvet until October 12th. I had one outstanding encounter with him over Thanksgiving break – 42 yards, and he ducked the arrow…big time! Then to top it off, he shed his antler on December 23rd and I lost him on camera. I ran 7 cameras on the farm to try to snap his picture and to my eye, don’t believe I did. I assumed the worst – the lasting effects of EHD had finally gotten the best of the old warrior! It was a long off season…

August 12, 2013 was like Christmas morning for a deer hunter! Hightower was indeed alive, and he was as big as he’d ever been! I couldn’t believe it; he survived EHD and somehow was able to grow his best set of antlers! This deer was a true genetic marvel! The bad news was, once he came out of velvet – he went nocturnal!

Past year’s Reconyx pictures told me he was visible on food once immediately after the rut concludes. On December 17th, 2013 – the wind and weather I needed had arrived and for the first time in his life, I was taking my TC after him. In my mind, I had conceded that he beat me with the stick and string – I might have been knocked down, but I wasn’t out. I would try to even the odds with the ole smoke pole!

After all those years of sitting, waiting, looking, and wondering – my patience, persistence, and perseverance (along with a lot of Lurk / Drury strong will – aka stubbornness) had paid off: the chapter of Hightower, an elusive 10 ½ year old 184” Giant, had concluded – he came on the field at 60 yards and didn’t go another 40 once I shot.

2013 ended with a bang - literally! It is bitter sweet, however…for the past 5 seasons – I’ve planned, strategized, monitored, and hunted for one - once in a lifetime whitetail, I’m unsure how to begin preparing for 2014! But am thankful, I won’t lose any sleep over Hightower!