RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. — Clayton Daniel from Saxon, West Virginia hunts on Bolt Mountain. He’s had his eye on a massive buck and carefully plotting the buck’s movements. He has steadily watched big buck grow to maturity. He explained he’s been patiently biding his time for his chance to put that big boy on the wall.
“I’ve been watching this 10 point for about three years, but I just can’t seem to catch him in the daylight,” explained Clayton in a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors.
This story is NOT about Clayton’s 10 point buck. This is the story about Clayton’s six-point buck which was almost his demise.
“It’s one of those things that most hunters have in the back of their mind when they’re sitting on the ground. You wonder about a bear maybe coming up on you, but you don’t think too much about a deer jumping on you,” he explained.
Clayton headed to his hunting spot on Bolt Mountain October 8th. Since there was a fairly stiff wind blowing that day he decided to skip the tree-stand and set up a partial ground blind. He also decided, for the first time ever, to hunt with his crossbow and leave the compound bow at home. It was a decision which turned out to be quite fortunate.
Evans spent a little over an hour before noticing a couple of does wandering near his blind. He stayed calm and quiet while he watched them. A short time later, he started hearing the tell-tale signs of leaves crunching to his right, but out of sight. He clicked off the safety on his crossbow as the sound drew near.
“Probably about 15 yards from me, I could see antlers. It was a six point and I’ve let him walk two or three times since bow season started,” he explained. “He’s on my game camera. I watched him in velvet, I watched him shed his velvet, I’ve watched him all season.”
Content to let the little buck walk again, Clayton relaxed and just watched. However, the buck kept drawing nearer and nearer and nearer to his position in the ground blind. The buck got within seven feet and stopped.
“All of a sudden I see antlers coming in over the blind right at me. I’m not sure if he even knew I was in the blind. Regardless, he was jumping over into the blind, I’m assuming to get up the hill,” he explained.
The deer evidently did not see the blind, which is quite a testament to the camouflage. He obviously didn’t smell Clayton either–which is a testament to scent control and wind patterning. However, none of that was of much use when the buck’s head, sharp rack, and powerful front legs landed almost directly in Clayton’s lap. It was at that point the buck realized his error…..and lost his mind.
“It was a mess,” laughed Clayton
He grabbed the buck’s antlers to try and steer them away from his body and face. The buck started stomping on everything in sight, trying to turn and get away. Clayton’s hunting back just to the left of his legs took the worst of the beating. The thrashing continued for what seemed like a long time, but in reality was probably just a couple of seconds. It didn’t take Clayton long to realize he had to use something more than his left hand to turn the buck another way. Instinctively he pointed the crossbow, which was on his lap upward, and with the safety already off pulled the trigger.
“That bolt went in the right of his shoulder and came out the back side of his gut. It got his lungs and also a gut shot at that angle. It was just a miracle I got the shot off anyway,” he explained.
More importantly it caused the buck to change directions and head backward down the hill and away from Clayton. The buck ran about 40 yards before it keeled over and died.
After a major adrenalin dump, Clayton began to evaluate his situation.
“It was probably 20 minutes to 30 minutes before I could even stand up. I was shaking so bad I didn’t even realize my hand was injured. But as the adrenalin wore off, my left hand was hurting and I had several puncture wounds. I also couldn’t make a fist where it was swollen and hurting, ” he explained.
He finally made his way down to where the deer crashed. It was dead, but Clayton admitted his knees were still pretty wobbly as he assessed what had just happened.
“I was really lucky that I wasn’t hurt any worse than I was. Like I said, I’ve let that deer walk and I was hoping if he survived bow season and rifle season he might be a nice one to hunt next season. But that wasn’t to be. Now he’s in my freezer and his heads going to be on my wall,” he said.
His story is going to live forever at least around Clayton’s future campfires.