BUFFALO CREEK, W.Va. — His retirement from the local water company earlier this year meant Nick Cantrell of Kistler, W.Va. would finally get to hunt the way he wanted. After 35 years with the company, the last several as supervisor, his time for hunting was often limited and work always got in the way.
His biggest limiting factor these days is is health.
“I’m 62 and I have some health problems, especially with arthritis and the latest I can usually hunt is about 12 or 1 o’clock,” he said.
Nick and his brother have hunted Buffalo Creek all their lives. They know every hollow, every stream, every trail, and almost every tree. But the area Nick wanted to hunt in 2019 was going to be hard to access.
“The coal company opened up a mine in there and that forced us to have to take a different way in,” he explained. “Instead of a 45 minute ride in, it was taking almost an hour and a half.”
But Cantrell thought the area was worth the extra effort. A year ago his brother had missed a nice buck there and earlier in the season his brother had killed a good sized eight pointer in the same general area. Cantrell hunted it hard for five weeks and hadn’t seen much. In fact, in the last five days he hadn’t seen a deer at all.
“I told my brother I hadn’t seen anything but a few does and I was thinking about pulling out. He said I should stay because that big one he missed was probably still in there,” he said.
His brother’s encouragement kept Nick in the hunt, but he had made up his mind on this day, he was leaving at 10:30 a.m. if there was no activity and head to another spot he knew. Around 10:15 a.m. he started to give up. He took down the curtain which formed the blind, folded it, and put it into his backpack.
“My next step would be to get my crossbow and my seat and I’d be gone. I looked up and it was coming right at me,” he said.
He’s referring to a monster buck which he had never seen. It’s 11 point rack gleamed and only a handful of yards away, it was oblivious to Nick’s presence.
“I was right out in the open at 20 yards. His head went in behind a birch tree and I was able to get the crossbow up and when it turned to the right I was able to shoot him in the neck. He went about 40 or 50 yards and expired.” said Nick.
It was a dandy buck and testament to never giving up too soon. Nick admitted, he was five minutes away from missing the encounter altogether.
“The time I saw him to when I shot him was about 15 seconds,” he laughed. “I’m 62 now and they always say you need a little bit of luck. I’ve missed them, spooked them, and everything else. All I know is I hunted my tail off for five weeks and I was excited to get him.”