The Redemption Buck

As hunters, we all know how things can go terribly wrong at the worst possible time when pursuing high-racked whitetail bucks. On the other hand, it's funny how everything can also just fall into place at the last minute.
A few days ago, I experienced this emotional rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and lows during a muzzle-loading hunt in the open hill country of western Oklahoma. At one point, I actually wanted to sling my smoke-pole across the brush-choked draw that was located directly below my makeshift ground blind. However, my plan finally came together in the end when a long-tined Booner methodically walked into a clearing! With that being said, let's take an inside look at how three nerve-racking encounters eventually led to some much needed redemption on the last day of my hunt.
On this particular trip, I was hunting with my good friend Todd Rogers of Rut & Strut Guide Service in Sayre, Oklahoma. It was my first time chasing whitetails in the rolling hills and open terrain of this sleeper state and I was anything but disappointed.
Rogers has direct access to miles of free-ranging terrain that is loaded with deer, especially heavy-racked bucks. The hunting here can definitely be action-packed, but unseasonably warm weather and a bright full moon in the sky had the big boys all messed up.
In fact, only small basket-racked bucks and slick-headed does were showing up during the first two days. This is exactly why I decided to burn a day and check out some new ground. After several hours of intense scouting, I finally found the perfect place to ambush a potential monster. Consequently, the entire area was covered up with fresh rubs, scrapes, and heavily worn trails that zigzagged in and out of a thick-entangled draw of cottonwood trees.
Without hesitation, I setup on top of a grassy knob with brushy cover that overlooked all the hot sign. About an hour before dark, a giant 10-pointer with an almost perfectly symmetrical rack appeared along the edge of an isolated pond dam. This amazing deer was just out of range, but it appeared to be walking toward the trail that cut right below my setup.
Unfortunately, the buck worked a scrape and then disappeared into the wooded draw. The next evening, I setup a little closer to the 10-pointer's bedding area and waited for the show to begin. Like clockwork the buck hit his secluded watering hole and started down the pond dam. This time he took a second trail that would lead him about 40 yards below my makeshift blind, which kicked my heart rate into high gear.
Suddenly, I picked up some movement to the right of my setup. Seven does filtered out of the draw causing the buck to stop dead in its tracks behind a single cottonwood tree. All he would have to do is take one more step to end my hunt in Oklahoma.
Without warning, the does began blowing and frantically running toward my setup. The buck immediately ran up the hill and just like that my shot opportunity was gone. Three bulky coyotes had busted the does and completely ruined my hunt.
As you can imagine, I was mad enough to run through a brick wall and the lead coyote paid for it. However, busting this dog still didn't make me feel any better.
I was literally a few seconds away from tagging a giant and no amount of dead coyotes was going to erase this horrible feeling. With only one day left of my hunt, I began to wonder if it was ever going to happen.
After a long sleepless night, I entered the draw under the light of the full moon and hoped my luck would change the last morning. At daybreak, I spotted a doe walking up the trail toward the thick bedding area.
Suddenly, she stopped and began nervously peaking over her shoulder causing an adrenaline rush to take over my entire body. It was the monster 10-pointer that had narrowly escaped me on two different occasions.
Quickly, I ranged the buck at 170 yards when he changed directions and offered me a perfect broadside shot. One deep breath and a gentle squeeze of the trigger knocked the bruiser into the Oklahoma dirt!
I can't explain how good it felt to finally wrap my hands around the buck's massive rack after everything that had happened. This was definitely one hunt that I will never forget!
I can't explain how good it felt to finally wrap my hands around the buck's massive rack after everything that had happened. This was definitely one hunt that I will never forget!

Take an inside look at how three nerve-racking encounters eventually led to some much needed redemption on the last day of Travis Faulkner's Oklahoma hunt.