RICK SWEENEY - Tennessee

Thank you for letting me share my son Garrett’s story with you.

First of all, I want to praise Whitetail Institute on their awesome Imperial Whitetail Clover. It has really helped the deer on our farm over the past several years. It has totally changed not only how we hunt the deer but the caliber of deer on the farm. Anyway, this is how yesterday progressed to an unforgettable day for my son.

On Nov. 7, Garrett was out of school for the day and wanted to go deer hunting because he knew the deer were really starting to rut. You’ve got to realize Garrett is only 13 but is an avid deer hunter. He harvested his first deer at the age of six. As the day progressed, I couldn’t break away from work, and the texts were nonstop from him wanting me to come home to get into the woods. At 3:00 p.m. I called Garrett and told him there was no way I could make it in time. So we agreed that he would ease up to our back field which is a two-acre Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot just below our favorite deer stand.

He chose not to drive the Polaris but to walk about half-mile to make sure he didn’t spook anything, which would prove to be a very smart move on his part. He was up in the stand by 3:30 p.m. and ready for the evening hunt. At 4:15 p.m., I received a text that there was a doe that had just stood up about 100 yards from him in the other part of the field that I had let grow up for deer cover.

He looked through his binoculars to see what the doe was doing and noticed a large rack turning in the brush. The deer had been bedded in the field the entire time, so it was a smart thing that he chose to walk up to the field. The doe started toward the food plot, and Garrett grunted to see what the buck would do.

At that time, the buck stood up with another small buck and started following the doe into the food plot. As they approached, the large buck started chasing the smaller one all over the food plot and running back to the doe. The doe was at the far end of the plot when Garrett decided he needed to take some action before they left. He grabbed his rattling horns, hit them ever so softly together and snort-wheezed. The big buck turned and started walking toward him. The doe ran in front of him and started leading him off again, but it was too late. Garrett was able to stop the big buck by whistling at him and shot him with his muzzleloader at 50 yards. The buck lunged forward and fell within 30 yards.

That’s when I received my next text at 4:30 p.m. By this time, I was on my way home. He wrote, “Big buck down.” By this time I was pretty much breaking every traffic violation imaginable! I called him and he told me what had happened. I told him to meet me at the house and we would go back and get him. He was very confident the deer was down, but I didn’t want him to go to the deer by himself.

Well, once we got back to the food plot, he calmly said, “He’s just over there,” pointing about 60 yards by a pine tree. We found the blood trail that lead straight to the huge buck. Man was I amazed at what he had just done. A buck of a lifetime! At age 13, it’s hard to realize and appreciate what he had just done but I believe by the next morning it had started sinking in. He told me he was most proud of doing it by himself from start to finish. I think I’m more proud of him than he is and what he accomplished. The buck measured 172-4/8 inches and will be the largest buck ever harvested in our county and possibly the largest buck harvested with a muzzleloader in Tennessee. I’ll have to keep you posted on this.

Thanks Whitetail Institute for such a great product!