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The Trail Camera Buck by Dave Conrad

Dave Conrad with a 190" class Boon & Crocket Whitetail taken in Ohio, October 2004

Trail cameras have become an integrate part of my hunting regime the last couple years.  Over the last three I have developed an interesting hobby of building my own.  With the help from some ingenious people at, combined with electronic boards and supplies from, I just completed my two latest digital cameras complete with movie mode.

These two cameras were setup over intersecting trails on a new piece of property that I had acquired the previous winter.  Now I knew from a couple scouting trips in late June that there were a couple bucks with potential in the area.  But I was totally surprised when one digital revealed a tremendous buck with the makings of great mass.  By the middle of August I had acquired many pictures of him from the same area.  Every week he seemed to have added more tine length and mass.

Using this information I slipped in at the end of August, installed a couple treestands and removed the two cameras from the area.  I did this in order to let the area calm down until opening day a little over a month away.

There is no more excitement than hearing your alarm go off on opening morning of archery season.  Well not exactly because I always get up way before the alarm even thinks of waking up.  Next is the check list of everything you already went over 50 times the night before as you shower, get dressed and jump into the truck.  As you roll down the road in your mind you are going over what type of day it will be and if you will be successful on that buck you are after.

Trail camera photo

I arrived well before daylight and slipped into my camouflage before heading to my stand.  On the way out I ran into four does as I skirted a food plot.   I still had several hundred yards to go and I was sure the skittish does would not bother the buck’s core area. 

After arriving at the tree I quickly and quietly climbed into the treestand.  It was still a good 45 minutes before first shooting light but as I scanned the field I could barely make out some deer moving a little over 50 yards away.  I brought up my binoculars and could make out the shapes of five deer.  The last one to my left was large and I could tell it was a buck with a good set of antlers.  Still too dark to tell if it was the buck I had hopefully patterned.

Trail camera photo

Over the next half hour the deer continued feeding in the area.  It was then the buck began to make his way towards me.  I brought up my rangefinder and started taking readings as he moved closer angling in front of me.  Fifty yards, forty two yards, at his closest he passed by at thirty seven and a half yards.  At this distance I could clearly make out through the rangefinder it was the buck I was hoping to connect on this season.  However it was still too early for shooting light.  I remember thinking as I sat down, “Well at least I saw him and didn’t spook him from the area” as he angled out of the field and into a pine covered ridge.  Looking back down at my watch I noticed I still had close to fifteen minutes before legal shooting light.

For the next half hour I continued off and on to watch the does feed.  By this time I had removed my bow from the hook and made sure that everything was ready.  Just then the deer moved off to my right where they were obscured by some tree limbs, except one.  She decided to bed down and enjoy an early morning rest.  I was thinking how great of a morning it had been so far when all of the sudden I was aware of a deer sniffing just off to my left.  I looked down and immediately recognized it was the giant buck.  He had somehow slipped into my area by using a couple tree limbs that obscured my view.  He was actually sniffing where I had paused to try and push back with my hand some tall weeds and briars that were underneath the canopy of the big maple tree.

I immediately rose to my feet and drew the Bowtech Patriot Dually in one clean motion.  I was thinking to myself “take your time” as I centered the sight pin just behind and to the right of his slightly quartering to shoulder.  As I touched off the release the big buck jumped as the arrow angled from the top of his chest area and exited just beneath and behind his ribcage.  He immediately whirled and headed for the pine thicket.  I was able to follow him as he ran into the fence line jumping the fence and crashing through the underbrush.  

After forty minutes of watching the other deer in the area, they finally moved off.   I got down in order to inspect the arrow.  The red blood on the fletching was also accompanied by a presence of stomach or intestinal contents.  I accepted this as normal as I replayed the hit back in my mind.  The angle of the shot I judged had passed high just off to the right of the deer’s spine (in my perspective but actually the deer’s left side) as he was facing me but slightly quartering to my left.  I accessed that it had taken out the deer’s left lung, passing probably through some part of the liver and exiting out through the stomach or small intestine and behind the ribs on his right side.

I decided to play it safe since a cold front was coming through and give the deer plenty of time before picking up the chase.  I walked back to the truck replaying the whole situation through my mind.  While at the truck I called my wife to let her know what had transpired and that I was waiting before picking up the trail.

Trail camera photo

In the meantime I contacted a good friend to accompany me on the tracking job. When my friend Jon arrived I immediately informed him and his son Tyler of what had taken place.  We immediately took up the trail..  Grabbing my bow, just in case, I showed them the last place that I had saw the deer and we found blood.  While following the trail after about 100 yards we kicked up a doe.  The doe was in no real hurry to vacate the area as she stopped at least twice before finally high tailing it as we approached.  Because of the good blood trail I thought that the doe was probably bedded somewhere close to the buck. 

I believe Tyler was the first to say that he saw white ahead of us.  I immediately picked up my pace, okay, okay, all of us started to sprint, towards the downed buck.  He had traveled no more than 150 yards after the hit.  Most of it was on a downhill run through the wooded hillside.

During field dressing it was evident that the arrow had indeed passed through the left lung, liver and perforated the stomach upon exit.  Upon examining the rack it can be determined that the buck sports a typical 12 point frame.  Four non-typical points bring the total to sixteen with several other points and bumps that fall short of the one inch acceptable measurement.  The buck is currently at the taxidermist awaiting a pedestal mount.   

This buck couldn’t have come at a better time.  My wife and I are expecting our third child within the next two weeks.  Now everyone knows that a new baby coupled with two other little ones, both less than five years old, won’t leave much time in the near future for my favorite pastime.  Coupled with starting a new business I didn’t even have time to get a final measurement on the big buck.  Rough estimates put him in the 180-190 mark.  But one thing is for sure, God blessed me with an unforgettable opening morning success on the ”Trail Camera Buck”.


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