The Story of 65 by Jordan Feller
In 2011 the buck showed up again, same area, another year older and quite a bit bigger! He hung around all summer and fall, showing up on trail cam a few times, not too often. We spotted him in daylight one time near “The Greenfield” (The area we had been getting pics of him his whole life) but we had no intentions of shooting him at 4.5. We didn’t even hunt this buck… we didn’t want the temptation of having him infront of us and having to pass him. Haha We really thought he could be a big 5.5 year old buck.
After the 2011-2012 season closed we began running trial cams to get some idea of what bucks made it, we had a good feeling 65 was alive but we confirmed this when he started showing up on trail cam in a standing bean field all of January and February… almost daily.
In mid February, I believe the day of the video premiere for HPW4, I was back at the farm and going to check trail cams. The first one I’d check that morning was the camera on the Greenfield. I immediately noticed there was tons of sign in the beans and around the corn pile by the camera… and as I got closer to the cam I spotted this…
It was laying just outside the edge of the corn pile! Unfortunately the camera had died and there was no videos on it showing 65 shedding or if he was still holding the other side. So I went back to the cabin and got dad and we searched a little bit on some trails leading to/from the plot but never found the other side that day.
The following week I made a special trip back to the farm since lots of the snow had melted. The goal was to check that trial cam on the Greenfield again and see if there was any evidence of 65 being fully shedded or still holding his 5pt side. Well again while walking up to the trail cam I spotted the 5pt side laying in the grass down the hill, about 100yds from the camera.
So in the off season we felt like we had a pretty good handle on what this buck was going to do. The entire family went to work trying to get ready to finally chase 65 in the fall of 2012. We started by killing the brome in this area and planting 1500 trees… the trees didn’t add any immediate cover to his home area but by killing the brome we released a mess of other growth and the deer seemed to love it!
Before planting the trees we had chosen a spot on a hill top on the north end of the Greenfield food plot and we were going to build a blind there. Here is Russ getting a look at what the view would be like from the blind.
We wanted this blind to be something that looked natural and the deer would feel comfortable walking within bow range by. We didn’t want them looking up at us when they get close, like often happens from some of our other blinds. So we decided a homemade haybale blind was the ticket. The project was under way…
We also decided to put beans back into this plot for the 2nd year in a row, only this time we’d have a friend plant them instead of us broadcasting them. It seemed when we broadcasted them, they grew great, but were such a tangled mess the deer and turkeys had a hard time getting to all the beans in the field. Having the beans planted in rows made it easier for the wildlife to eat them.
The game plan for hunting him was to kill him around this food plot, we had blinds on both ends and could hunt up here on nearly any wind. Each blind had a perfect entry/exit route and scent control. We really felt like we could put some pressure on this buck without him knowing about it! We felt that really helped us out in keeping this buck comfortable moving in daylight.
As the summer wore on we continued to maintain the weeds around the trees and work on the hay bale blind in this area, we were putting more pressure on this small area than we liked and weren’t getting pics of any mature bucks up here, we were a little nervous about that but had to keep believing he’d come back in the fall. Since we weren’t getting pics of him in his fall home range we started to run trail cams all over trying to locate 65 and make sure he was alive… we found him in late summer
The beans did very well considering the drought we were under and the trees in the planting were doing ok as well, things were shaping up nicely for the upcoming season. In late August dad and I went in and disced a strip in the beans and planted Dbltree’s Rye Combo mix, we were blessed with very timely rains that got this green stuff off and growing. They made a nice combination with the soybeans next to them.
Once the bow season opened we wasted no time starting to hunt 65. We hadn’t gotten any pics of him since the three in velvet but we had a feeling he would be back in his normal fall range. On October 5th Russ was out hunting by himself in the morning and had a close encounter with 65, right in the exact location he’s been the past 2 years. This would be the start of many more close calls with him this fall.
We got a few trail cam videos of 65 on the Greenfield food plot throughout the fall.
During the early muzzleloader season Russ and Dad were hunting and watched 65 feed in a cut corn field a few hundred yards off… he was on his feet well before sunset. This would be encounter #2. As the rut wore on we continued to get trail cam videos of him at the Greenfield plot but always right after shooting light ended. In late November Dad and Russ were again hunting at the Greenfield, they were in one blind and watched 65 walk 20yds infront of the haybale blind on the complete opposite end of the plot. Well out of bowrange. That would be encounter #3.
Encounter #4 was a tense one. It was 2nd gun season and Russ and I were hunting in a field a little ways from 65’s typical home range but we had just gotten a trail cam video of him under one of our stands in this area, it seemed like the late rut had him up and moving in areas he normally wouldn’t be.
So the two of us went back and sat on the ground waiting for deer to start to pile into the field. The first deer out in the field was 65, he was 240yds away and immediately looked like he was going to work over a hill in the field and go away from us. He did just that. And the second he disappeared behind the hill Russ grabbed his gun and I grabbed the camera and we sprinted after him. We ran ~300yds to a terrace and we snuck to the end of the terrace to hopefully get setup for a shot at him. We got to the end of the terrace and spotted 65 but he was already 190yds away and moving after a doe. With the wind and conditions there was no chance for a shot. We watched him trot even further away and tend a doe. We sat there for a minute or two as he was 400yds away, we were trying to make a game plan for getting close to him again. We thought if we could keep a low profile in the corn field that we could sneak across the field and he wouldn’t see us, he was really focused on the doe. So we did that, we snuck down to the crick, got a bunch of cover along the crick between us and him… and ran after him again. We really thought this time we were going to get a shot at him… but once we got up to look around the bend in the crick I spotted him, he was in gun range, but had already crossed the crick and there was zero chance for a shot. We were FROZE. We packed the gear up and walked back to the truck with plenty of shooting light left… this was the buck we wanted and we knew he wasn’t coming back. Haha
So 2nd gun season comes to and end, we finally get the big snow and cold weather we dream about just as IA’s late muzzleloader season opens. The game plan was to hunt 65 on the Greenfield plot, it has the food and cover near by and it is the area he seems to enjoy the most. The odds seemed stacked in our favor for killing this buck.
The first hunt was December 26th. I took our cousin Preston Feller out and the winds were wrong for the haybale blind, which stank because that blind generally offers way closer shots at the deer vs the black blind on the opposite end… but the winds weren’t letting us get in the haybale blind. So to the black blind we went.
Things were quite until about 4:30-4:40pm, I spotted movement wayyyyy off, I don’t even want to guess how many hundreds of yards away. I glassed the group of four deer and immediately picked out 65. It was great to see him and know he was back in his general home area but things weren’t looking too good for getting him killed this night, he was just too far off. Just as we spotted him in the distance. we noticed a few deer starting to come into the bean field in front of us, and of course they were 200yds from us and only 50yds from the haybale blind, gosh we really wanted to be in that haybale blind. At first it was just does and fawns in the field, but then a 4.5yr old 135-140” ten pt showed up. I was filming that buck and trying to figure which deer it was, and then out of nowhere, in the top of the viewfinder on the video camera 65 appears!! He had closed the distance from where we last saw him, we were very surprised he had made his way to the beans! 65 walked into the field, bumped a doe and began feeding on beans with the rest of the deer. There was plenty of light when he first appeared but it was quickly becoming dark. With all the deer in the field out of Preston’s shooting range we made the choice to switch positions. We were talking back and forth making sure he was ready with the camera as I was about to shoot and the first time I started putting pressure on the trigger, 65 turned a faced us… close call. Then the 2nd time he got broadside at 175yds I asked Preston if he was on him, he said “ya”, and we dropped the buck in his tracks!
We were both shaking real bad, I don’t know if I’ve ever shook that bad after shooting a deer. It was a lot of fun! The story of this buck is one that involved many people and lots hours put in by all those people. The entire family was after this buck and I just happened to be the lucky one to pull the trigger. Dad and Russ joined Preston and I on the recovery of this buck and it was a weird moment. None of us seemed to know what to think, it was hard to believe we finally caught up to this buck! Russ snapped a couple harvest pictures in the bean plot and at the shop with the sheds, but we’re going to take some daylight harvest pictures this Saturday. I’ll post those when we get them. But for now, here are some pics of the buck!
And lastly, we found the bullet lodged in the offside shoulder. If anyone is looking to try a new muzzleloader bullet give these a shot, they are awesome! Extremely accurate and open just like this every time.
Category: Whitetail Hunting