Jonathan Linens of Ringgold, Virginia lives within a stone’s throw of the North Carolina/Virginia State line. Before his Virginia season commences on October 3rd, he torments the North Carolina herd on every chance he gets as the archery season begins. And opening morning on his lease in Caswell County, the stars were aligned just right to bring a huge 140-class buck right into his kill zone. But, a bachelor group of juvenile bucks on his stand almost spoiled the party.
Linens slipped into the stand real early that morning and got settled long before sunlight crept into the woods. He was hunting along a transitional area adjacent to a pine thicket and sitting in the middle of a mature grove of oaks actively dumping acorns on the ground. Not only was he excited about opening day, his trail camera had captured several nice bucks that would be perfect bow kills.
“My cameras have been out since July and I have a lot of pictures of 110 to 130-inch bucks,” Linens said.
Soon after Linens got settled in his tree stand, he could hear a deer meandering around in the honeysuckle thicket behind him. As the sun began to ignite the sky and fill the woodlands with a glimmer of light, Linens could make out a good buck within bow shot from behind his stand. But, the deer was too close for Linens to stand up and turn around to make a shot.
“I kept still and my head straight and still as I could. He was already pretty close and I didn’t want him to see me,” he said.
A few more minutes passed and Linens could hear the deer still moving around, so he slowly turned to take a better look when there was more light available.
“I turned around and I finally got a good look at this deer. This was not one of the deer I had on camera. I had never seen this deer before. I said to myself, ‘dang he is wide,’” he said as the buck glared right toward the base of his tree.
Linens began to tremble with excitement and knew he had a huge buck within range, but he wasn’t situated to make a shot and he sure couldn’t move without spooking the deer away. He just had to wait it out and hope the deer would come by and give him a shot out in front of him on the oak ridge.
As Linens sat in the tree shaking with excitement, he looked up and watched six smaller bucks appear from the pine thicket. Now he had 7 sets of eyes watching his every move that increased his stress levels twofold. Luckily though, the big buck shifted his attention to the other bucks and started walking to them, passing just a few feet away from the base of Linens’ tree stand.
“As he walked straight away from me, I slowly stood up and the other bucks looked right at me. I froze and began to shake uncontrollably,” he said.
Since he first saw the big buck at daybreak, it had been over an hour and Linens’ nerves were getting the best of him. But his biggest bow buck ever was in bow range and he was standing there with his Hoyt ready and then the big buck turned broadside. It was either now or never.
“I drew back and two of the smaller bucks saw me move and spooked off. The big buck tensed up and was getting ready to take off too so I released my arrow and just at the right time,” he said.
The arrow landed just perfectly in the engine room and the buck took off over the ridge and out of sight.
“I listened carefully and heard him crashing and making racket. I knew I had him,” he said.
Linens sat quietly in the stand for nearly an hour and finally climbed down to find his 191-pound buck piled up nearly 300 yards away from where he made the shot.
“I never expected a deer to come from the honeysuckles behind me and I sure didn’t expect to see a buck of this caliber on opening day. But I sure am glad he came!” he said.