TENNESSEE Southern Trophies

Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Larry Porter of Tennessee. It was a hot November day in west Tennessee, not a day you would consider good for deer hunting. The mosquitoes were out and it was sunny and about 80 degrees. But I had two hours before my 13- year-old daughter’s basketball game, and I was itching to go deer hunting. I had joined a deer hunting club with some of my buddies, and this would be my first time to hunt this new property.

I had access to 500 or so acres that are mostly woods, with some set aside farmland. We have three food plots of Imperial Whitetail Clover and we use PowerPlant too. The Imperial Clover is scattered all across the property. The food plots work great as you will see in the quality of deer they’ve helped produce. I will be planting more of them next year. The Imperial Clover is by far the best clover on the market.

I picked up my son’s muzzleloader and got my mosquito spray and off I went, as the farm is only 10 minutes from the house. I thought this could be as much of a scouting trip as a hunting trip since I knew nothing about the farm. I am a handicapped hunter, and if it weren’t for my trusty ATV getting me to and from the field, I would have had to give up hunting 25 years ago when I had a massive stroke. I am very blessed that over time I have regained almost all abilities except the use of my legs, but I can get around with the use of a cane. Through the help of my family and friends and the grace of God, I have still been able to enjoy hunting and fishing.

When I got to the field, I grabbed my muzzleloader, fanny pack, doe estrus scent and my grunt call. It was 4 p.m., and I had an hour and a half to hunt. I always carry a drag rag doused with doe-in-heat scent behind my ATV to help cover my scent and also to hopefully attract bucks. I spotted a nice, big tree stand (belonging to one of my friends) that I thought might be a good spot, as it was overlooking a field in the river bottom.

I rode my ATV, dragging my drag rag, along the edge of the field and parked in the bushes behind the deer stand. I tried my best to get up in the stand but it just wasn’t going to happen, and I almost fell out trying to get situated. So I climbed down and fixed a comfortable spot under the deer stand and leaned my muzzleloader against the first step of the ladder. As I peered through the ladder, I could see the cars and trucks going by on the highway. The thought ran through my mind that I was just wasting my time, but I told myself to just enjoy being out in the woods and sit there until dark.

I’ve always thought the best way to deer hunt was just to be quiet and sit still and let the deer come to you. An hour went by and all I saw were two squirrels. Without any deer activity, I decided it couldn’t hurt anything to try my old grunt call. I could still smell the scent of doe estrus on my fingertips. I grunted a few short grunts.

What happened next left me in disbelief. In my 40 years of hunting, I’ve never seen anything like it. A monster buck bolted from a thicket, looking for a fight or at least to protect his territory; and he was heading right at me from across the open field. It happened so quickly that when the buck stopped, he was at 75 yards; but I hadn’t had time to even get my gun ready. I have a scope on my muzzleloader, but it didn’t take any kind of optics to tell this buck was a shooter. I managed to get my gun up and get my sights on him, but he started walking again looking for the other buck. His hair was all bristled, and his ears were laid back as though he was ready to fight. When he stopped at 60 yards, I pulled the trigger, and I couldn’t see a thing for a couple seconds.

When the smoke cleared, all I could see were antlers — big antlers like I’ve never seen before. I waited 10 minutes to be sure he wasn’t going to run off, and that was the longest 10 minutes of my life. At 5:10 p.m., I got on my ATV and rode up to him. He had 13 points and some of the longest points I’ve ever seen. He had mule deer forks on both sides and drop tines on both sides. The deer had a 22-inch spread and weighed 175 pounds. It was the nicest deer that I’ve ever seen.

I’ve never been a big believer in using a grunt call, but after this hunt, I will never be caught without it. There’s no doubt the combination of my deer scent and a grunt call did the trick on this old buck. Looking back on that deer hunt, I almost didn’t even go. Had my daughter wanted to shoot basketball before her game, then I would never have gone deer hunting. Also, I had those thoughts of “it’s just too hot and the deer won’t be moving.” Then, after I did go hunting, I almost talked myself into leaving early.

So the bottom line is if you get a chance to go deer hunting, you better go. You never know what’s going to happen. I have hunted for 40 years and spent thousands of hours in the field, but you just never know when it’s going to happen. It’s kind of like that old saying, “A bad day of hunting is still better than a good day at work.”

Also, my 20-year-old son, Tyler, killed a nice buck, 140-class, while we were hunting together. Our county rarely has bucks like this, so it’s really unbelievable that we both got two of the nicest deer taken in our county. We were so excited. I've scouted for the last 10 years trying to put him on a big one. He’s killed more than 40 deer before but nothing like this one.