Hunting Free Ranging Whitetails: Sharing Isn’t Always EasyNovember 21st, 2014 by Grant Woods
Almost every hunter that steps into the woods during the fall has one buck that they dream about, lose sleep over, strategize over and fantasize over. This is the story about that buck and the day it all ended.
George Alexander, also called Royal George, showed up on our Reconyx cameras last summer and immediately caught our attention. At that time he was unknown and unnamed. Hoping he would make his living on the farm, we knew he would be our prized buck. About that time the news media was obsessed with a baby in England named George Alexander. How fitting could this name be? While a majority of the world was talking about George Alexander of England, Grant and I were obsessed with George Alexander of The Proving Grounds. After looking through the Reconyx images we decided he was immature and would receive a pass for the 2013-2014 hunting season.
Fast forward to July 1st. We laid our eyes on George for the first time in 2014. One word – WOW! Here in southern Missouri where The Proving Grounds is located, it’s tough for a buck to reach over 160 inches. It certainly happens, but when a buck reaches that size he is the talk of the neighborhood. Grant and I felt that George was 4.5 years old going into this hunting season, so he was the top buck on our hit list. Knowing how hard it is to hunt nocturnal bucks, and sensing our chance for success would be slim to none, Grant and I didn’t hunt George very much. We checked our cameras constantly throughout the fall, hoping for daylight movement of George, and it never happened. As the rut started to come into full swing we hoped a hot doe would lure him out in daylight. Through all of this, there was also concern that he might venture off the property. The fourth night of Missouri firearm season Grant received news.
Grant gave me a call and told me to check my email. I scanned through pictures sent by the neighboring landowner and all our dreams of harvesting George were erased. Our neighbor had shot Royal George late that evening right under his tree. I was immediately upset and got very little sleep that night thinking about that great buck. This is an ending that every hunter has or will experience. It’s unpleasant, but it’s part of managing free ranging whitetails. Sure, it would have been great to see George at The Proving Grounds, but we’re happy for our neighbor and what he was able to accomplish. At the end of the day we need to be thankful for what we got out of the pursuit. George wasn’t poached, or hit by a vehicle, he was harvested by a landowner who was perched in a tree enjoying the evening just like you and I.
As the book closes on this great whitetail, I’m sure another buck like George will come along soon. As deer managers, we will continue to let young deer walk and improve the habitat to grow bigger deer. Congratulations to our neighbor on harvesting such an incredible whitetail!
Daydreaming of Whitetails,