By Mark Huber
Steve Davis was still in bed as the sun broke the horizon Nov. 27. He wanted to be in a deer stand by then.
“I overslept,” the Wilmington resident said. “I debated on whether I was even going hunting.”
Ironically, when Davis finally arrived at his deer stand, it turned out to be the “shortest hunt I’ve ever been on.”
But one he wouldn’t give back for any amount of sleep.
Davis landed a 14-point deer with a crossbow and is currently having the buck prepared for mounting with Seth Northern of Northern Taxidermy in Clarksville. Davis hopes to have the deer’s rack officially scored sometime next month.
Early indications, though, have Davis’ deer in the state record range.
“Nothing is final,” Davis was certain to point out. Davis hopes to have a final score on the rack Jan. 28 during an outdoor show in Hillsboro. “I’m hoping it’s a record, but I’m not getting my hopes up.”
There are two organizations Davis has reached out to in this process — Buckmasters and the Buckeye Big Buck Club.
Buckmasters has a BTR score for the antler rack at 187 7/8, Davis said, which would be 3/8 larger than the current state record listed on the Buckmasters website. The composite score for Davis’s deer is 214 2/8, also better than the 207 4/8 score posted on the website.
However, two scorers from the Buckeye Big Buck Club have come up with two different measurements, so Davis is hoping a trip to the 19th annual Sportsman’s Night Out at the Hillsboro Bible Baptist Church Jan. 28 will produce official numbers to verify whether the deer is a state record or not. Davis has been told someone from Boone and Crockett Club also will be present in Hillsboro to record the deer’s score.
Davis credits Glen Little Jr. for helping him field dress the deer following the hunt. “I would have never got that deer out (of the woods) if it hadn’t been for Glen,” Davis said. “Glen helped me a lot.”
After more than a month of hunting on a friend’s property, using first a deer stand then a deer blind in two locations, Davis was having little luck landing a deer, any deer. He spotted the big one, but was never close enough to get off a shot with his crossbow.
Finally, Davis used a climber stand located about 20-25 yards off a path where he had seen the big deer. He hunted out of the climber stand for approximately three weeks before that Nov. 27 morning.
Davis was beginning to wonder if he had “pushed the deer off that property.”
Said Davis, “Deer are smart. They see people come in and out (of the area) and they know.”
In that third week in the new location, just after he settled into his climber stand, Davis saw a doe.
“She came out to my right, about 25 yards off to my right,” he said.
After a short time, the doe went back into the woods. No sooner than the doe disappeared, the buck arrived on the scene.
“He wasn’t pushing her but he was following the same path that she went,” Davis said. “This deer was so big. I was sitting in my stand, shaking so bad. I froze.”
The buck looked right at Davis “for 30 seconds, then dropped his head,” Davis added.
That was his call to action. Davis grabbed his crossbow and when the buck began to walk toward the woods, Davis fired.
“As bad as I was shaking, I was surprised I hit him,” Davis admitted.
Davis tracked the buck near a creek. That’s when he called Little for assistance.
“This was the hunt of a lifetime,” said Davis. “I’ll hunt for another 20 years and never see anything like this again. This deer has been on people’s trail cameras for (years) and has been seen 3 or 4 miles away from where I got him. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”