The Chronicles of Curly
I was able to harvest my #1 hit lister two weeks ago, who was a buck I called “Curly”. It was an exciting end to a story that began in 2017. I had several pictures of him on trail camera and did not know it at the time, but he would become the biggest buck on the farm 4 years later. Curly had an unmistakable coat and even at a young age I could tell it was him, even if he had shed his antlers. His feet had a distinct white stripe that goes up farther than other deer, and his coat almost has an orange tint to it.
Here is Curly in 2018, which I believe he was 3.5. He went from a 7 to an 8 point and added mass.
He still had that very defined throat patch and was a regular at the scrape cameras.
In 2019, Curly had made a great jump and was on the hitlist as a 4.5 year old.
He gave me a close encounter in October of 2019 that left me wondering what I could have done differently. He came into the small opening I was hunting, but proceeded to walk directly toward me and then looked up at me in the tree 7 yards away. I’m not one to take a frontal shot, I don’t care how close they are, so he lived to see another day. Here is a blog I wrote about that encounter which has the video as well.
Fast forward to January and we were expecting a large snowstorm. I wanted to check cameras and see how many bucks had shed, as well as pick up any sheds that might be exposed in the small amount of snow we already had. I was lucky enough to find BOTH sides of Curly that day. Here is another blog I wrote about that epic day of shed hunting.
Then 2020 rolls around and just like clockwork, Curly shows up in his old stomping grounds. Interestingly, this buck did not summer on the farm, so the only velvet picture I have of him was from September 3rd when he was in the process of shedding the velvet.
As the fall progressed, I noticed there was a line of scrapes that Curly was checking at the edge of daylight. Some days it would be after dark, but most days there was plenty of light to shoot. It was not every day, but it was often enough that I tried to capitalize on the pattern.
I slipped into that area one evening and hunted from the ground as the wind was wrong for the tree stand, I had set up in that area.
Here I am checking the card that day.
I had an eventful evening seeing smaller bucks and does work out into the field, and right at quitting time I see a big frame deer come into view. I knew I would not be able to shoot him as it was too dark, so I decided to slip out of there while he was 150 yards away. I checked the card the following week and did confirm it was Curly. I must have gotten out cleanly because he was checking that scrape just minutes after I left.
He continued hitting that scrape, but always at the very edge of shooting light, so I knew I had to move tighter to his bedding area to get a better look at him. On the morning of October 18th, I had a good daylight pic and that gave me a better idea of where he bedded.
On the evening of Nov 2nd, the wind and weather were finally right to hunt the stand closer to where he beds. This also happens to be within 20 yards of where I found one of his sheds back in January. I was shocked that at 3:30 PM, with the sun still brightly shining, I look up and see a doe working her way into the small field, and within one minute, I hear a twig snap in the woods. I looked up and immediately recognized it was Curly. He followed the same trail the doe was on which put him right at 20 yards. I stopped him when he was broadside with a soft “meh” and let the arrow fly. Upon impact, I could see it was a touch back, but I thought I would still be in the back of the lungs. Here is a video of how it went down:
Initial reaction was that he was a dead deer, but I just did not know how long it would take. We examined the arrow and found bright red blood at the impact site and followed it for about 100 yards. It started to get smaller and smaller and then you could tell where he stopped, there was a softball sized area of blood, then nothing. We did a few small circles looking for more blood, and when we couldn’t find anymore, we backed out for the night. I could not sleep a wink and just kept replaying the shot over and over, both in my head and on my phone. The next morning, I was out there before the sunrise listening for crows or coyotes. I returned to where we lost blood and found one smaller spec off the trail he was on earlier. That at least gave me a heading to begin the body search. It was 8.8 miles of hiking later (tracked myself using On-X Hunt app), that I was able to find Curly 600 yards away from where I shot him. I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to find him, and even had a tracking dog en route, when I finally laid eyes on him. The craziest part is that he ended up on top of another ridge after being hit, so instead of going downhill toward water, he went downhill, then uphill away from water.
It was a crazy emotional roller coaster, and I was thankful to come out on top. After inspection of the shot, I only hit the near side lung and was mostly liver. I am sure we bumped him after the shot and he ran until he died that night, leaving no blood trail.
To have so much history with a buck, then finally wrap your hands around him, is a surreal feeling. I thank the landowner for giving me the opportunity to pursue these elusive creatures, and my incredible wife for keeping the home fire burning while I’m 20 feet closer to God. The farm is going to feel a bit empty knowing Curly is no longer on it, but getting to see him on the wall whenever I want, will help make up for it. Do you have any creative ideas for how I can display his matched set of sheds next to him on the wall? Feel free to message our social media accounts if you have any ideas. Good luck hunting the remainder of the rut. The extreme warm temps have dwindled, and it looks like much better weather moving through the rest of November.