Thanking the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act
November 22, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
Josh Tawes saw an absolute giant. He hunted the deer hard with another gentleman a few days a week but never saw him in daylight. It eluded him. Josh couldn’t get eyes on him a single time from preseason to summer. All he could do was marvel at the pictures the trail camera took after dark leaving the impression of a monstrous specter hanging over his head. Josh had to have his record buck.
The beast was taunting him. Daring Josh to come find him. Josh got lucky and saw a group of bucks walking through the land’s food plots and caught a glimpse of some massive horns attached to a tremendous deer. Here he was again. Mocking Josh’s plight to best him.
When the giant disappeared, Josh gave up hope. After a year of tracking, he was no closer than the first day he saw him.
Then in October Josh was half-mindedly going through his trail cam footage and thought he saw his rival once more. Later in the woods pursuing a doe, Josh heard a booming blow from behind him and knew the gargantuan deer was somewhere within spitting distance.
Turning to face his opponent, he heard the crackle through the branches of the large buck dashing away. A whole year later and the animal was still playing games.
The next day, Josh was killing time watching the Commanders game on his phone when he looked up from his screen to see two does in front of him.
One doe started to blow. She blew into the woods a few times as Josh stealthily placed his mobile device beside him. Tension filled the air and Josh endeavored to find its source. Tracking his eyes from left to right, he scanned the area for the slightest sign of movement.
A grunt. Josh swept his eyes in its direction and saw something 13 yards in front. It was something bigger than the giant that Josh had seen over the last year but there was no mistaking that it was the very same animal. The beast was even bigger than before and was coming right at him.
Josh jolted his crossbow into position and looked through the scope as he had done countless times before. The difference was this time the lens cover was still down.
Warding off the panic with sheer will power and years of hunting experience, he swiftly flipped the lens up. The giant’s eyes pierced Josh like he intended his bolt to do shortly. Josh knew he only had a split second before the beast disappeared yet again.
Shooting at the center of the mass, he saw the bolt hit true and watched the beast walk off before hearing a crash in the woods. Josh didn’t move a muscle for 45 minutes as he waited for his friend to arrive. But night was coming so Josh decided to seek his prey before his friend’s arrival. He followed the blood trail for 20 yards before finding the downed creature just before dark. He dragged the 14-pointer out from the brush when his friend arrived.
It was the funeral of a worthwhile foe and an honorable end to a yearlong rivalry between hunter and prey. They brought the deer back home, cracked open some beers in celebration and had him mounted at the Custom Whitetail Taxidermy in Tappahannock, VA.
Josh’s challenge with this beast taught him a valuable lesson: sometimes it’s better to hold off on a deer so that they can grow even bigger for next year. Had Josh had the chance, he would’ve hunted this deer the first moment he saw him. But then the animal wouldn’t have had the chance to grow into the giant it became. No matter how much you might think a deer is at its potential, it still might have room to grow. So, if trophy hunting, make sure you give deer the opportunity to reach their full potential before pulling the trigger. You’ll get an even more outstanding deer next year. Patience is key.