LOGAN, W.Va. — When Aaron Fry checked his cameras in 2015 there was a single picture of a buck with a drop tine. The buck didn’t raise his
eyebrows too much at the time, but Fry had no idea how a single picture would turn into one of the most remarkable pursuits he’d ever undertake.
The 2015 picture came after Fry, whose from Logan, had already tagged out for the season. Fry and his family own around 100 acres of prime acreage for hunting the big bucks known to haunt southern West Virginia.
The buck reappeared in 2016 and Fry explained his head gear had changed.
“He showed up with double-drop tines and a split on one side,” Fry explained on a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors. “I hunted him hard in 2016 even though I didn’t actually see him. I ended up eating tag soup that year and not killing a deer because I was waiting on him.”
The following year, 2017, the buck appeared on Fry’s property again. The pictures were magnificent with another double drop tine configuration. The buck was photogenic that year—for a while. Fry explained he got plenty of pictures on his trail cameras, but a month before the season he disappeared.
“We had a bad outbreak of EHD on the property and I was afraid he had died,” said Fry.
Figuring his chances at the beast were done, Fry killed a nice ten point buck on the second day of the season. But in week two of the season, the big boy resurfaced on camera and for Fry time seemed to stand still.
“It was a long season worrying if he’d make it to 2018,” laughed Fry about his predicament unable to hunt the big buck with the pair of drop tines since he had already filled his tag for the season.
But the following August the buck appeared for another year at age seven, the mountain monarch had a breathtaking rack with four drop tines. Fry made his game plan for hunting the deer. He wasn’t getting any daytime pictures. So he shifted his cameras around a watering hole and noticed a new pattern. Every fourth day, the buck would arrive in the daylight hours.
“That’s where the story got interesting,” Fry explained.
During the first weekend of the 2018 season, on Sunday evening, Fry had his first face-to-face encounter with the buck. It was a broadside shot at close range, but the buck jumped the string, and the broadhead skinned his back sending the buck out of the area.
“I thought that was it for a seven and a half year old deer. I thought I blew it,” Fry lamented.
But he kept hunting. He arranged for vacation on the fourth day when the buck’s pattern had been showing up during the daylight hours. Fry arrived at his stand around 2 p.m. He laid his bow at the base of the tree. A mound of dirt stood between his tree and the watering hole, so Fry explained he wanted to take a look before he climbed into the stand. Turned out to be his second big mistake with the buck.
“I walked up on that mound and there he was at 35 yards, broadside and we were eyeball to eyeball. My bow was ten feet behind me on the ground. He bolted away and I figured the Good Lord had given me two good chances and I blew them both,” Fry said.
But at the encouragement of friends and his wife he kept hunting–and stuck with the spot for the next four days. He explained on the fourth day he planned to see if the buck would return, as had become his practice. Around 6 p.m. a doe and a small six-point buck fed in the oak flat Fry hunted near the watering hole. He watched them for an extended period of time until both were suddenly spooked by something in the distance.
“I assumed it was a bear–but when I looked, here he came along the same path as the day I missed him. He walked to about 22 yards and stopped in the shooting lane. He dropped his head to start picking acorns and turned his head away from me,” said Fry.
It was the third opportunity Fry had with the buck. He knew chances of a fourth were extremely remote. Heck, chances of this encounter were equally remote–yet here he was. Fry drew back, let fly, and saw the arrow penetrate. The buck bolted. But he didn’t go far.
“He ran off about 40 yards and acted like he wasn’t even hit. He started feeding again. He took about three or four minutes and then I saw that little tail flicker. Then he started to fall. He over-corrected and fell the other way, I had to grab hold of the tree to set myself back down in the tree stand.” Fry laughed.
When he finally made it to the buck, it turned out he had made a perfect shot. Both lungs and part of the heart were hit by the arrow and yet the buck still survived another five minutes. The big rack officially scored Pope and Young 171 non-typical with 17 scoreable points. According to Fry, 42 5/8 of the score were non-typical points–which included the four drop tines.
“I kept it calm, cool, and collective until he hit the ground, then I had to sit down for a while,” he said.
A quest of four years which had every chance to never have happened.