BRANDYWINE, W.Va. — The invention of the four wheeler changed a lot about how people hunt, but one Pendleton County hunter proved there are still rewards for those willing to shed some boot leather in search of a buck.
Charlie Hoover of Brandywine, West Virginia hunts the National Forest land near his home, but this year after four or five days, started to grow frustrated. He admitted during a conversation with Northside Automotive West Virginia Outdoors he didn’t have a lot of confidence in the area he normally hunts, so he decided to take a walk.
“It’s actually some big territory in there where I was hunting and there’s no way to get to it except to just walk,” he said. “I hadn’t had much luck this year, so the wind was blowing a little bit so I decided to just walk.”
Hoover walked three miles deep into the rugged mountain terrain, stopping every few minutes to scan the forest and look for some glimpse of movement. The wind was in his face and that proved to be fortunate when something caught his eye at about 70 yards.
“I caught a glimpse of his horns,” Hoover explained. “He was in some real thick brush and honestly I didn’t see all of his antlers, I caught a glimpse of a fork and figured since it was the first thing I had seen with antlers I’d take a shot at it.”
Hoover admitted the shot wasn’t the best. The buck was concealed in heavy brush and could only be seen in parts through holes here and there in the the mountain laurel thicket. He found one of the holes in his scope and squeezed off a shot. The buck bolted.
It was a disappointment for Hoover and he knew he had to make a decision. If the buck was wounded and he pursued him, there was a chance it would push him deeper into the woods, possibly never to be found. Despite being a long way from his vehicle, Hoover decided to back out and wait a day to attempt a track and recovery.
“I actually didn’t go in until the next day to look for it,” said Hoover. “I wasn’t really sure of what I shot, so I wasn’t really in a great big hurry to go look for it.”
The decision to wait until the next day probably allowed Hoover to find the buck. Hoover arrived the next day with a buddy and began to follow the trail. He tracked the deer about 80 yards to where he had fallen over. Hoover admitted, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I’ve never seen anything near like this in the woods around here,” he said. “I was pretty torn up. I’ve never been that anxious about anything in my life when I walked up to that thing. My stomach was in such knots, I was actually throwing up in the woods.”
The buck sported a thick set of antlers. There are 22 points which are an inch or longer. Old timers like to count a point as anything you can hang a ring on, which according to Hoover would raise the total to 28. The taxidermist estimated the deer to be about six years old.
It took Hoover and his friend four hours to get the buck back to their truck. It was a chore Hoover didn’t mind, but certainly one he never expected.
“There’s some big ones back there, but you’ve got to be willing take time and put some effort into walking and get back off the road,”