On Sept. 30, Marc Cavanaugh of Granville County, N.C. ended his three-year chase for a buck he called “The Big 7,” which he began getting trail camera photos of in 2014, had numerous encounters with in 2015, then saw rarely in 2016. The buck was green-scored at 133 inches.
In 2015, Cavanaugh ran across the deer on a number of occasions, but he passed on it while pursuing a larger trophy buck with he eventually punched a tag on. Then last season, Big 7 only showed up on his trail cameras a handful of times, and those were always at night. So he was happy to see the big brute showing up almost every day from May through June of this year.
With thousands of photos of the deer leading up to opening day of 2017, Cavanaugh put together a game plan, then put it in action.
“I knew where he liked to eat and sleep, as well as when he would visit. It was almost like clockwork,” he said.
On Sept. 23, Cavanaugh encountered the buck up close for the first time of the 2017 season, but he didn’t take a shot at it. It was 30 yards away — well within the range of Cavanaugh’s G5 Prime Rize bow, but he was videoing the hunt, and the deer stayed outside of the camera frame.
“Sometimes when filming hunts, things just don’t work out as planned, and when it doesn’t, you just have to hope for another chance,” he said.
For Cavanaugh and this buck, that second chance came the morning of Sept. 30.
“I had watched the cameras all week, and the buck was coming in every day between 7:15 and 8:30 in the morning. I knew with the cool front passing through and the wind being perfect, it was a must-sit morning,” Cavanaugh said.
At 7 a.m., four young bucks showed up at Cavanaugh’s stand, and almost immediately, Big 7 showed up behind them. The big deer put on a show for the hunter, bullying the younger bucks away, then eating in peace.
Twenty yards away from the buck, Cavanaugh let an arrow fly at 7:16. The shot was dead on, and his Afflictor broadhead found its mark. The deer took off, but an easy blood trail helped him track it down, ending the three year chase.
Cavanaugh is a member of Team Part Time Whitetails, and will be working their booth at the 2018 Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh. He will be showing footage of the hunt in their booth.
Click here to see another 2017 deer article about another member of Team Part Time Whitetails.