Looking over at Time 4 Media’s Greg Gatto, clad at this point in only his tight green long underwear, I couldn’t help but think how he looked like some kind of superhero.
“Damn, Greg, you look like your dressed to go fight crime,” I chided. No need to wait until the afternoon to start razzing my hunt mates. The observation brought chuckles from the crowd, as well as Greg, who is as good a guy as you could want in camp, but little did we realize, Greg would become the real hero of the hunt.
That night he would lie awake with an anguish all too familiar to bowhunters who shoot a buck just before dark and then must wait until dawn to confirm that it is down. Greg had one of those sleepless nights.
As the rest of us headed for our stands on what would become the ideal pre-rut morning (it was crisp and still), Greg and property manager Eric Skinner would go trail his buck.
For my part, it was an incredible morning. I literally enjoyed a parade of deer on the small food plot carved out of the forest by Primos cameraman, Brad Farris, thus the stand’s name–The Brad Farris! By 9 a.m., I had seen 24 deer, including two bruiser bucks that were chasing three does so hard that they barely halted their pursuit when I hit the Buck Roar.
I also took the opportunity early on after three does entered the food plot alone (around 6:45 a.m.) to arrow a monstrous nanny doe that must have tipped the scales at close to 130 pounds. She had a long head like a horse. After a tough two seasons where I lost a sizable 8-point just a few weeks ago and overshot another 8-point last year, I needed a confidence boost.
Following Will’s advice to aim at the bottom of the doe’s chest (“These deer around here duck,” Will says.), I realized the Crimson Talon-tipped carbon Easton and struck the deer right in the heart. She dashed 70 yards before collapsing, the white of her exposed belly visible through the woods. I knew I would be ready for a big boy if it ever came along.
That evening I would call in both a small spike as well as 120-inch whitetail that I let pass. The 8-point entered the food plot with three does and when I hit the Buck Roar, he came running in for the challenge. I barely had time to get my bow off the hanger and the agitated buck was standing a mere 17 yards away.
As dark enveloped the area around my stand, I peered toward the opposite end of the plot toward a large oak by which most of the deer had filtered past that day. There in the open stood a deer, that upon first glance, was so large I thought it was a black bear. I grabbed my 10x binos and took a look: It was one of the biggest deer I have ever seen while hunting. Its twin main beams where heavy and swept out wide past its ears. G2s, 3s and 4s stabbed toward the darkening sky. I almost audibly gasped at the site. The buck had to be approaching 160. Beside him stood a buck that was also a shooter–perhaps in the 130, close to 140, class.
I hit the grunt tube, I hit the bleat can, I even rattled. But where every other buck I had seen had been chasing or ready to rumble, these two could have cared less. Frantic and with only moments left before my sight pins faded with the day, I rattled, grunted and bleated. I gave them everything.
The biggest of the two stepped out of sight into the forest making me think I had spooked him. Then I heard his heavy steps approaching just inside the tree line, but walking toward my end of the field. The smaller buck soon followed. Five minutes later, they were milling about the edge of the food plot right across from me–a mere 40 yards away. My pins were as invisible as if they didn’t exist. It was too late to pull off a shot. I sat there until Eric and Sid arrived to pick me up and ran them from the area with the sound of their approaching truck.
The next morning, more deer would be seen, including the same 120-inch buck I had called in the day before, but nobody would go home with a buck. Nobody except the Greg “The Green Lantern” Gatto. After shooting his 10-point, the animal didn’t go 80 yards before collapsing. He had pulled off an incredible angled shot and drilled the deer perfectly.
It was Greg’s first deer ever with a bow and as good a deer as you could want to take. On this hunt, the Green Lantern had truly turned out to be the hero.