Wayne Mills had hunted his 1,000-acre lease in Culpeper County, Va., three days a week since the opening of archery season in October. In late summer and early fall, he got trail-camera shots of two really nice bucks, so he passed on several borderline shooters. On Nov. 6 he spotted a 10-pointer chasing does. “I passed him, too, at 35 yards, but decided I would take him if he gave me another chance,” he said.
As Wayne watched the buck running back and forth in the woods, he heard a grunt and looked up. A doe was running down an old road with a massive buck on her tail! She bolted into a meadow; a spike and the 10-pointer point took off after her, and the monster followed. “I only got a glimpse of him, but I knew he was the one,” Wayne said.
He hunted the stand a few more days, but didn’t see “the one” again. On Nov. 12, a front came through and changed the wind. Wayne slipped over to another treestand that overlooked a mowed trail through planted pines about 100 yards from where he’d seen the giant the last week. At daybreak, he did a little grunting and waited. At 7:07 a.m. he spotted a deer behind a pine tree and raised his binocular.
“When he stepped out I saw tall tines and mass,” Wayne said. He settled the crosshairs on the buck’s shoulder, and the T/C Black Diamond boomed.
The buck ran directly away and around and through the pines. Wayne watched the deer for as long as he could, and thought he heard him crash. He went to the spot where the animal had been standing—no blood. He went to the last place he had seen the deer and started working the line the animal had fled.
“He was lying under a pine about 30 yards away, and as I got closer I saw the drop,” Wayne said. “I pulled his head up and said, 'Lord what have I got here?'"
What he had was a main-frame 10 with 26- and 27-inch beams and a 255/8-inch spread. Oh yeah, and a 7¾-inch drop-tine. The Virginia blackpowder giant grossed nearly 180 and netted 167 B&C, and “is the deer-of-a-lifetime for me,” Wayne said.
Wayne’s Keys to Success:
November 12 is a magical day. It’s uncanny the number of rut-crazed giants that are shot on that day every year from Iowa to Virginia, no matter the moon phase or temperature. Take off next month and hunt the 12th and a few days before and after if you can swing it.
Wayne kept his wits and watched and listened closely as the buck ran off after the shot. Sometimes a muzzleloader bullet doesn’t exit a deer, and there’s no blood at or near the hit site. Start there and draw a line to the last spot where you saw the buck. Continue in the direction you heard him crashing away. You should eventually find blood and, in the end, your dream buck