September 20th @ 7:30 a.m. I was checking my Facebook as I normally do every morning on my hour ride into work. I had a message in my inbox from my Facebook friend, Margaret “Maggie” Hammeke-Frisbie:
It read: “You need to go check out my 2011 Archery season opening day buck! Have a pic up on my page. Will be trying to get more this morning.”
I went to Maggie’s Facebook wall and I nearly passed out. No kidding, I instantly got chills. I saw stars for a minute and then I said out loud “GOOD GRACIOUS–HOLY SMOKES” and I let out a hardy WOOO HOOO!! The first photo I saw was this one.
I had to know more, so I asked Maggie to tell me all about it. With her permission, here is her amazing story:
This story starts 5 years ago. My husband, Richard, and I had trail cams out and had gotten an interesting picture of a buck with split brow tines which we ended up naming “Splitter Buck”. My husband said, “if he lives long enough, this buck will be a giant one day.”
In the 2007 season, we again had many pictures of this buck–as well as many encounters with him. At the time, I was a rifle hunter and had this buck in my scope on several occasions but kept remembering what Richard had said about him.
The next season came and our hearts sank as we realized we weren’t seeing “Splitter Buck”. We often questioned and wondered what had happened to him.
In 2009, my husband had convinced me to try bow/archery hunting. Or at least try to shoot a bow. For many years I thought I knew what enjoying the outdoors and hunting was all about. However, I will admit that I use to have a tinge of jealousy when my husband would come home and try to describe what he saw and experienced while sitting in a tree stand. Seemed like he enjoyed sitting in a tree on a cold morning than staying in a warm cozy bed with me! Richard, though, was and still is a die-hard archery hunter. He literally could spend 360 days a year preparing, planting food plots, trimming trees out, setting out cameras, watching trails, glassing the deer and hunting! At times I have classified him as obsessed! So I gave into his urging and gave it a try.
He taught me well! November 3rd, 2009, I shot my first deer with a bow and it was the biggest buck I had ever shot. It was a typical 10 point that scored 167! What a rush that was! I was told over and over that I would have a hard time topping that deer!
The rest of my 2009 season was spent with a bow in hand chasing does and turkeys.
In the 2010 season, I sat many days watching the small bucks walk by. But it really gave me the opportunity to enjoy the many things that my husband had always talked about. I had changed locations and tree stands several times. Then one day something had caught my eye. While glassing around I had noticed a buck chasing a doe around. I immediately recognized this buck. Although he was busted up on one side, he definitely had the split brow tines. I texted my husband and he thought I was imagining it.
The next day Richard was out scouting and saw 3 giant bucks chasing a doe. Sure enough, it was “Splitter Buck”! Although he was nearly 4 miles from our hunting property, he was still alive…AND HUGE!! A couple of weeks later Richard checked the trail cameras and there was a picture of “Splitter Buck” back on the property and it showed the broken tines. We both had hopes that he would survive the hunting season and vehicles to make it to the 2011 season.
In mid-June, Richard started working food plots, trimmed out trees, started scouting for new possibilities of where to put in tree stands and glassing. One evening while watching some deer from a hill top I noticed a large buck walking across a field of wheat stubble. Richard looked and it was a GIANT! His next words were, “It’s him! It’s Splitter Buck!” So the next day he set up a camera and got the 1st pictures of him within hours. Over the next 3 months we were getting pictures of him regularly. He did disappear a couple of times and after studying the trail cam pictures Richard realized it was during the full moon cycle and would return 10-12 days after.
Back to the drawing board about where we could put up tree stands strategically. September 5th was the last time we had pictures on our trail cam of “Splitter Buck”. Is he following his pattern? Was he hit by a vehicle? Youth season opened and still we saw nothing of him nor had we heard of any youth hunters shooting anything large. He has escaped us once again for yet another season!
On September 19th, opening day of archery season had started off with much anticipation and hopes as to what would come out in front of me. We had decided that Richard would sit in his strategically set tree stand while I would be a quarter-mile north of him in a ground blind.
I truly love a morning hunt. I think it is one of the most magical time of the day! If a person listens carefully I swear you can actually hear the sun rise. The distant sound of the turkeys as they fly out of the roosting areas, the various birds are spreading their wings and the scurrying of mice out in search of a small morsel. As shooting light starts to become clear it is confirmed by the eruption of gun fire from the wildlife area and wetlands 1 mile away from where I was sitting. Movement caught my eye to my left and a nice large doe walked out in front of me. As I reached for my bow I once again caught movement and following her was a small reddish colored fawn with very distinguished white dots on it. The doe was safe for this hunt.
Having heard the turkeys earlier I knew it wouldn’t be much longer before they would make their journey across the pasture. With that thought in my mind, here they came. A total of 21 young turkeys and a couple of hens. The young turkeys were very curious to what was different with the blind I was sitting in. Then the fawn decided to entertain itself with the turkeys which in itself, entertained me but also gave me the opportunity to set my bow back down. The fawn, realizing that the doe did not stop to wait for the play time, ran to catch up with it’s mother leaving the young turkeys to look for something to forage. They were all out in front of me at about 40 yards when I had looked down at my cell phone to make sure I had not missed a text message from Richard. When I carefully looked up every head was watching me. Slowly, every young turkey were descending towards the ground blind!! Standing within 5 feet of me they were finally summoned to continue with the hens through the tall grasses and cedar trees of the pasture.
The next hour and a half proved to be quite boring and uneventful. After meeting back up with Richard, we discussed what we each had seen that morning. He had a few small bucks come in and that was it.
As the afternoon approached we were discussing the calendar of events that I had scheduled and how my hunting time over the next couple of months would be limited Richard decided I should take the stand he had sat in that morning and he would sit elsewhere. We knew there had been a descent buck coming into that area pretty regularly every evening.
As I sat in the tree there was a slight breeze coming out of the south/southwest blowing directly in my face. With my gear all ready and my ThermaCell lit, I was ready for anything that walked out if front of me!
After about a half hour I heard a deer snort and blow. About 5 minutes later there was another snort and blow. I wondered what might be out there that they didn’t like. Perhaps someone hunting to the south of me? Based on the wind direction it could be a possibility. I was confident that after all the precautions it couldn’t be me. I was so scent free! I stood up, heard something directly to the back of me and peered around the tree and there stood a decent 8 pointer with his nose straight up in the air….. Then he blew hard and whirled around and ran! SERIOUSLY? As I turned around and looked straight ahead the breeze was still hitting me out of the southwest with an occasional touch out of the west.
Looking at my surrounding, I am in a bowl like opening. As the wind was coming in it was actually swirling around me then going to the east of me right to several main trails. Oh wow, what should I do now? I starting thing, I really didn’t want to ruin a good hunting spot. I took my arrow out of my bow and put it back into the quiver. Richard has worked so hard especially in this area – I can’t ruin it for him! I grabbed my sling and put my bow into it and fastened it in. I thought to myself that I should let Richard know what I am doing. I reached into my pocket and got my cell phone. It’ was DEAD!! REALLY? I stood and looked around and thought, “What would he be telling me to do now?” I let out a sigh!
I took my bow back out of the sling, took my quiver off and took 1 arrow back out and notched it. So many doubts running through my head but I just wasn’t sure of what I should be doing. As I slowly sat down I spied a hoof below a cedar tree. Then to the north of me I saw 2 deer walking thru some thickets. Finally, a sign. I knew their trail would run them back to the south and straight in front of me. I reached over a lifted my bow off the bow holder and slowly stood up. All I could see now was the occasional hoofs under the thick foliage of tree branches. As they stopped, I could finally make out a small fawn’s head. It really was looking nervous as I could see it smelling the air and stretching it’s head as though as it was trying to look over some bush, then lowering it’s head to peer under the bush. I thought to myself, “Come on, just walk on in and bring those behind you through as well! Let me see you all!”
Finally, the fawn started to walk through and slowly the doe did as well. Now behind a tree I waited for them to walk past the tree and into the clearing. Suddenly, it sounded as though a tree had fallen over just to the south of me. As I looked over, through the brush and fallen tree branches, out walks “Splitter Buck”! “Oh My God–he is HUGE!” He turned towards me and started eating grass 13 yards right in front of me. “Oh “my goodness, what should I do? This is the buck my husband wants so bad!”
I watched and secretly wished he would turn and give me a shot! At that moment he turned in one swift movement leaving me to watch his back-end. He stood there looking at the doe and fawn then lowered his head to graze once again. “Please give me some kind of good shot!!” I looked at the doe, the fawn and then, him. I started to draw back on my bow. “What is Richard going to say if I do shoot him? It has been the only buck I have seen today!” At that point I could see just how old he really was. His eyes, the roman nose, and his back gave away his age. He took 2 steps to the side with his back legs giving me a hard quartering away shot. It was almost as though I could hear Richard teaching and telling me again… “Aim as though where you want it to come out at”. I took one big breath and as he lifted his head I released my arrow.
As he dug into the soft sand and turned to run I could see my fetching on my arrow still in his side! He and the doe both turned to disappeared into the thick timber. I don’t even remember where the fawn went to. I was still focused on where my trophy went to and listened intently hoping to hear him crashing in the timber. I sat back down and then I started shaking from my stomach outward realizing I just shot a buck of MY lifetime! I reached over and gathered my equipment and packaged it back up for a 2nd time this evening hunt. I wanted so badly to go out and check the area where I shot him at but decided with a dead cell phone that I should just back out and go get Richard.
Halfway down the trail to Richard, my heart sank a little as I was going to have to tell him exactly what he would not want to hear. I gave a whistle to him to warn him I was there. As he approached me, he said I looked in total shock. When he ask what was wrong, I instantly started crying and told him that I had just shot “Splitter Buck”. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Then came the usual questions; …shot placement? …direction of travel? etc…
When we got back to the place, I showed him where “Splitter” was when I shot him and found his tracks. Looked around for any sign of blood but found nothing. After walking in circles for a couple of minutes Richard finally found the arrow. The buck had circled around a tree which was obscured to me and ran back north. The arrow he left was missing the broad head and was bloody all the way up to the fletching. So Richard took up the trail and was finding little blood but could definitely tell we were on his tracks. We tracked for approximately 30 minutes thru some of the nastiest thickets and timber ever! Finally after tracking a steady blood trail we rounded a tree where we found him piled up into a thorny thicket – he had run approximately 100 yards from where I had shot him. What a relief!
Although Richard tells everybody he knows just how proud he is of me, I still can’t help but feel a little tinge of guilt for shooting this buck that I am sure Richard had dreams of in his sleep.
Technical Info: Green score 189 6/8”. Shot at 17 yards, with a Matthews Z7 Bow, equipped with an HHA 5519 sight and a Rip Cord Code Red rest, using a Gold tip Hunter XT 3555 Arrow tipped with a 100 grain NAP Hell Razor Broadhead.
Moral of the story: For those that told me I wouldn’t be able to top my 167” buck–NEVER tell a woman that she CAN’T–especially a woman with a bow in her hand!!
All photos in this entry are courtesy of Maggie & Richard Frisbie.