Rick Taylor’s Tennessee Monarch
On the evening of Halloween in 2016, I managed to arrow the biggest buck of my life. I saw this deer on the third day of our Tennessee season and set one goal, and that was to do everything I could do to kill that buck before the season came to a close. Hunting that one deer taught me a lot about patience, perseverance, and setting your mind on one thing and seeing it come to fruition. Matching wits with one particular public land whitetail will test everything you have ever learned about deer hunting! That buck gross scored around 153”.
As the fall of 2017 was approaching, once again I was setting some goals for the season. First, I wanted to take a buck with my new CVA muzzleloader…second; I wanted to kill a deer with my Bergara B14 Woodsman.
I met my first goal during the second week of our muzzleloader season, and I was also able to take a couple of does for the freezer.
Rifle season comes in around Thanksgiving every year, and I was anxious to get out with my Woodsman rifle. Having filled one of my two buck tags, and with about six weeks of the season left, I opted to take some time away from deer hunting and focus a bit on some predator control on a farm plagued with coyotes.
On December the 9th, I made my way to my first set to try an evening coyote hunt. I was hunting the edge of a hay field where I had killed a couple in late summer with my Bergara HMR. I walked my electronic caller to about 80 yards or so into the field and sat it down as well as my spinning decoy. I walked back to the edge of the field and set up in the prone position and put my rifle on the bipod out in front of me. I then grabbed the remote, pushed the button for a rabbit in distress…nothing!! I forgot to turn the call on when I sat it down in the field! So, I stood up and walked back out there, flipped the power switch, then went back to my ambush spot on the fence row at the edge of this hay field.
I was backed up under the stranded barbed wire, and again I positioned my gun on the bipod out in front of me ready to shoulder and shoot. As I picked up the remote, I had just glanced to my left, right down the edge of the fence row. About 75 yards away and 25 yards into the field there was a deer standing in the hay field with its head down eating. I was surprised and slightly shocked that a deer had managed to get in the field so close to me and neither of us realized the other was anywhere in the world. I shouldered my rifle to use the scope and get a closer look at the deer. As soon as I got the scope on the deer, he raised his head. Immediately I knew this deer was what I consider a shooter! I saw five tines upon his right side which had a long sweeping beam. I made a swift decision that I was going to fill my last buck tag on this deer and settled the crosshairs on his vitals. He was slightly quartering away, so I had to aim toward the middle of his rib cage to compensate for the angle. The 6.5 Creedmoor touched off, and the buck bolted straight across the field. I watched as he slowed from a dead run to a limping walk with his tail shaking back and forth quickly as he went out of my sight. I felt confident in my shot, so I gathered my gear and headed across the field in search of my buck.
I knew he couldn’t have gone far, and I didn’t try to find a blood trail, as I assumed I could walk right over and find him in the fairly open edge of the timber. A bit of panicked started to come over me when I got to where I should have been able to see him, yet there was no sign of him anywhere!
I decided to backtrack a bit and call a couple of buddies to try to regain my confidence. By this time, the sun was beginning to set rather quickly. On the phone with my buddy, I told him that I was just going to back out for the evening and resume my search in the morning so as not to push the deer. He convinced me to make another loop before it got too dark to see, there is no doubt that the coyotes in the area would have found him overnight if I didn’t find it myself. I decided to make a wide circle and get above where I thought the deer should have gone down. Within 10 minutes, I was looking down the hill at a white belly that I had walked within 25 yards of from the downhill side and just didn’t see!
It was clear that he was down for the count, and as I approached him, I honestly wasn’t ready for what I would see. I knew when I first saw him through the scope that he was “good enough” for me, but I didn’t know what he was until that moment. He is a main frame 10 point with long main beams. His right side has an extra G2; his left side has two kickers growing from the back of his main beam right below his bladed brow tine! He has 13 score-able points and grosses within an inch or so of my 153” 2016 buck!
Some guys consistently kill bucks like these every year, but many of them are traveling to “big buck states” to do so. The one thing about killing a big mature whitetail is that you have to hunt where a big mature whitetail lives! That sounds a bit cliche’ I know but just think about it for a minute. It takes the right combination of genetics, food source, habitat and the ability for that animal to “grow old” to have the potential of having mature bucks in a particular area, no matter what state of the country you hunt. I hunted 26 days to kill that buck in 2016, and I may have hunted just 26 minutes for my Bergara buck!
The old saying of “I’d rather be lucky than good” crosses my mind every time I think about this hunt. I did know that there was a “good” deer of sorts using the area as evident by the abundance of rubs and scrapes, but I had no idea that he would visit me on a coyote hunt that evening! I had never seen this deer before that day, yet he has earned the nickname of “Bergara Buck” and will forever be a memory on my wall!