Author’s note: Mike Monteleone lives in Westminster, Maryland, and has worn Mossy Oak camo since 1988 and has hunted deer since he was 13 years old. He also is a member of PSE’s Pro Staff and has been shooting a PSE bow for five years. Today he shoots a PSE EVO Max, while primarily hunting in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
The five counties surrounding Baltimore, Maryland are the counties my bowhunting buddies and I primarily hunt. Hunters living in that area probably make up 50 percent of the deer hunters in Maryland. With all the hunters in this area, I’ve found that the smaller the wood lot is, the better my chances are for successful dear hunting. One of the little wood lots I hunt produced the biggest buck I’ve ever taken with my bow, a nine-pointer that scored about 130 on Pope & Young. I shot this deer on a cold November evening just before dark. Then the buck ran into a big thicket, so I decided to go home that night and try and recover it the next morning. When I came back and started blood-trailing the nine-pointer, I jumped a tremendous buck out of his bed. After I recovered my nine-pointer, I decided the big buck that I had jumped would be the buck I’d hunt the rest of the season. I saw him a few times that year, but he never came close enough for me to take a shot. I hoped this buck would make it through gun season and I’d be able to hunt for him again next year.
This buck was living on a 100-acre property that I don’t think anyone else was hunting around the edges of. I left my cameras up throughout the year, and I never saw the deer on trail-camera pictures all the way until mid-November when I went to hang a new tree stand on a Sunday. You can’t hunt on Sundays, so I hadn’t taken my bow. I was up on my ladder, just about to chain my treestand to the tree, when I heard a limb crack behind me. When I saw the big buck, I froze. That monster buck walked right under the tree I was in, just 20 feet below me. I think if I’d dropped my treestand I would’ve knocked him out. As he walked off, I was glad to know he was still alive and in the area. I said to myself, “Mike, you’re hanging this tree stand in the right spot for sure.” I hung the treestand on the edge of a bluff with a straight-down drop-off. I knew there was no way this big buck could come in behind me with a northwest wind, the dominant wind direction in this area.
A week later, all the conditions were right to hunt that spot. I had a slow drizzly rain to mask my movements and the wind direction I needed. I was discouraged when I got in my treestand, because I didn’t see as many deer as I had expected, but about 45 minutes before legal shooting time ended, the big buck popped up in the field right in front of me. There was a knoll covered in tall grass out in the field about 60 yards from my stand. When the buck stepped up onto the knoll, all I could see were his head and his antlers going back and forth as he searched for danger. I looked at my watch when the buck started coming toward me. It took him almost 45 minutes to walk 50 yards. Then, at about 10 yards away, he was facing me. He stood in that one spot like a granite statue for what seemed like an eternity, but actually was only a few minutes. Finally, he turned broadside to walk to his left. I waited until he turned his head back toward the field before I made my draw. When the pin sight on my bow stopped right behind his shoulder, I released the arrow. I constantly had been checking my watch, so I knew I only had six minutes of legal shooting time left. When I came to full draw, the arrow flew true. The buck only ran 30 yards before he toppled over.
I was so shaken up at having shot the biggest buck of my life that I felt certain I’d fall if I tried to climb down out of my treestand. I called some of my friends and told them what had happened. They helped me settle my nerves and get calm enough to climb down the tree. By the time I got to the ground, it was totally dark. I dug my flashlight out of my pack and found my arrow. I had gotten a clean pass-through. The arrow was covered from tip to nock with blood. I didn’t bother trying to follow the blood trail, because I knew exactly where the deer was. When I put my hands on that big buck’s antlers, I bowed my head and thanked the good Lord for giving me the opportunity to take a buck of a lifetime. I couldn’t believe all my planning and work really had come together and produced this big buck. The buck weighed 209 pounds field dressed and measured 152 inches, a true monster whitetail in the state of Maryland.
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Tomorrow: Landowners Managing Small Properties Together with Mike Monteleone
Image courtesy John E. Philips