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When the pressure’s on and you’re at full draw, you focus on the basics, not the buck.

That’s just the situation Matt was in chasing a buck named Gnarly, the biggest whitetail of his life. At just ten steps, he could hear the deer crunching acorns and every shuffle of hooves in the dry leaves. There was little room for error in a scenario that had been building for two years.

Gnarly was a regular on Reconyx cameras on this portion of Terry’s farm around this same time last year. His matching sheds were found in the area during the spring of 2018. A week prior to this lethal encounter, Matt had a tense 65 yard encounter with Gnarly before the buck wandered off out of the BioLogic food plot.

On the morning of October 25th, Matt intended to hunt one particular stand, but Terry’s 4:00 am trail cam review changed their plans. Old Man Winter suggested Matt hunt a stand called, “The Killing Tree” based on his MRI. Like the good son he is, Matt took Terry’s advice.

Despite a dropping barometer and incoming cloud cover, the morning still felt “bucky.” Temps were dropping, and early deer movement was great. DeerCast called it “Good.” The moon was setting after 8:15 am and it felt like one of those days when you could catch a buck heading back to bed late. When things began slowing down around 9:45 am, Matt decided to call it at 10:00 am.

With his rangefinder, binos, and other gear stowed in his pack, Matt began lowering items to the ground…including his bow while his cameraman Forrest shot some nature footage. As Matt waited for Forrest to finish, his eye caught a young buck pop out at 45 yards, then another, larger buck on the logging road.

He quickly recovered his gear from the ground and began preparing for whatever opportunity might be developing. Beyond the new bucks showing up on the scene, feeding with them in the timber was Gnarly.

With the biggest buck of his life now at 35 yards and closing, Matt quickly nocked an arrow and started getting ready for a shot. Focused on the deer, his arrow slipped off the bowstring and fell to the ground; he hadn’t nocked it completely. He reached for his quiver, momentarily stealing glances at his buck, and replaced his arrow.

During this time, the two other bucks accompanying Gnarly had peeled off and made their way behind Matt’s treestand and onto the logging road. Gnarly remained and continued a head-on trajectory for Matt.

Now at just ten steps, thoughts of cousin Jared Lurk’s experiences with no-shot scenarios on deer that wouldn’t turn for a shot passed through his mind. Wanting to be ready for a shot if the buck turned, Matt came to full draw and held.

Instead of focusing on the magnitude of the buck in front of him, or the fact that this deer would be the biggest of his life, he focused on his form, checking it with the reticle in his IQ bow sight.

Finally, after what seemed like minutes, Gnarly shifted, offering a slightly quartering-to shot. Matt executed his shot, placing the arrow just behind the near shoulder, sending Gnarly on a one way, 170 yard final run.

An unlikely scenario that almost resulted in Matt leaving the stand early turned into an incredible short-range success story with the biggest buck of his life, a 171 6/8-inch giant that weighed in at 202.6 lbs!

Gear Used:

PSE Carbon Stealth

Rage Extreme 2.3

Tenzing Pack

Leupold Optics

Muddy Treestand

Reconyx Trail Cameras

IQ Bow Sight

- Tim Kjellesvik, DeerCast Editor-In-Chief