Putnam County hunter’s miss was the key on a cold, rainy afternoon


BUFFALO, W.Va. — When Brett Walker of Buffalo, W.Va. went into his hunting ground in Putnam County in late October he jumped what he believed to be a big buck. Walker didn’t realize the area where he was moving that day was a staging and bedding area for a buck he had never laid eyes on.

The buck, or what seemed to act like a buck, disappeared into the brush and prompted Walker to move his stand to a new area situated between the area where he’d jumped the buck and a half-acre food plot he had tended through the summer. He spooked the big deer on Friday, but didn’t realize it was a fateful encounter.

He was unable to hunt on the weekend due to family obligations and didn’t intend to hunt Monday until he arrived on the job site and felt the temperature dropping. Walker is a construction worker helping build the new Clendenin Elementary School in Kanawha County. He went to his boss to beg off the rest of the day.

“I told him this is my Christmas and I had been waiting for this temperature change to get in the woods. He wasn’t real thrilled about it, but he gave me the go ahead,” said Walker.

Walker said his boss nicknamed him E.T. because when hunting season arrived all he wanted to do was go home. When he got home, the real boss wasn’t thrilled either. Walker’s wife had a mounting list of Honey-Do chores which needed attention.

“We’re in the process of selling our house and she had a list of things she’d rather I’d be doing, but I fought against all of that and got out there about 1:00 on Monday afternoon in the rain,” he said.

Walker was so excited about the temperature drop and the change he expected the weather would have on the deer movement, he didn’t quite think things through. He failed to put on his thermal underwear and his he underestimated the temperature drop and was ill equipped to deal with it. It wasn’t long until he was chilled to the bone and miserably uncomfortable and cold.

But as anticipated, the weather change sparked movement. Several does moved through and it wasn’t long until an eight point buck came into view. Trouble was, by that time Walker was so cold he had started to lose feeling in his fingers.

“I was trying to warm up my fingers to pull back my release, but I ended up just having to use my three fingers to pull my bow back. I couldn’t feel anything with them,” he said.

Not so surprisingly when he let the arrow go, it flew two feet over the buck’s back. It was a clear miss and the buck was long gone. It was close to 5 p.m. and the chance at that buck was lost for the day. Dejected, cold, and upset Walker tried to warm himself up enough to climb out of the stand and take the long walk back to the truck. However, about 10 minutes before dark, everything changed.

“I was shivering and I heard a tending grunt and almost immediately I had a doe pop out at about ten yards. When I saw her and after hearing that grunt I pulled my bow back and waited. I’d gotten a little bit warmed up and sure enough the first time I saw him, he popped out at about 7 or 8 yards,” he explained.

Until that moment, Walker had never seen the buck.

“I had multiple trail cams out since early summer and he wasn’t on a single camera. I think he just moved in there right in time for the rut. Earlier in the day I had seen a deer in that brush, but couldn’t tell what it was,” he explained.

The buck walked directly under the stand and stopped.

“I was able to take the shot and double-lunged him. I didn’t get a full pass through and he rolled a couple of times down the hill. When he popped out of the brush it happened so fast I didn’t really have time to get nervous,” he explained.

When Walker caught up with the buck he was amazed and marveled at the rack.

“I killed a 10 point buck in Mason County a few years ago and I could set that ones rack down inside of this one,” he said.

“I’ve bowhunted for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything close to it. I killed a smaller eight point in the Charleston urban hunt and killed a doe before that, so I was going to hold out for a bigger deer,” he explained.

Mission accomplished.

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