The Freak

My name is Nick Weems . I’m the Sheriff of Perry County Tennessee. I’m wanting to submit this story to share to others of my greatest trophy I managed to bag this past Saturday morning. If you interested, let me know.
I will send photos in a following email . Enjoy.

The Deer that made me a better hunter and almost caused a divorce! (Well, maybe not a divorce, but I see a lot of dishes in my future.)

In the movie “The Unforgiven”, Gene Hackman told Clint Eastwood “I don’t  deserve to die like this.” Clint Eastwood replied to him, just before he shot him, “Deserve has nothing to do with it.”

Of all the deer I’ve hunted over the last 30 years, I have never been so obsessed with any deer. That is, until I came across what I later named “The Freak”, 3 years ago.

Three years ago, I bagged a good 4 year old, 8-point buck that was running from something. He made the mistake of fleeing across my food plot. I wondered what he had been running from after I shot him. It wasn’t till  I checked my game camera, a few days later, that I discovered exactly what made him run for his life.  It was “The Freak”.  He was a huge body deer, with massive horns, and a spirit to fight. From that day forth, my obsession began. He wasn’t named “freak” yet. He was certainly a prize, but not yet mythic.  I hunted him the first year as a massive 10 point alpha male. The next year, he was an even bigger, meaner 12 point. He consistently ran other bucks from the area and getting any other trophy deer was slim. I captured more pictures of him that same year and then, without warning, he disappeared. The following year I saw no pics of the “freak”. I just figured that Chronic Waste Disease had taken him out. We had a large number of cases reported in my county that year and I thought it was unlikely he survived, but I still checked my deer cams for any trace of him. I was disappointed, but not crushed. I felt like it was a waste for him to just die quietly and anonymously somewhere in the woods.

This year, in mid-October, like an old friend, he showed his face once again.  It was a full moon night, around 11:30pm.  He stood in the clear, next to the field, his massive body even bigger than I remembered and a huge rack of horns, shining in the moonlight. I could tell immediately that something traumatic had happened to his bottom jaw and the left side of his rack. His jaw looked as if he had a goatee. His rack on the left side began with a massive base that splintered with points in all directions. While I could not be certain, I was sure it was a war wound he had received from another buck. I knew he won, but he didn’t walk away without the battle scars.  The old flame was rekindled and the obsession grew stronger than ever before. I named him. The Freak was now a legend to me.

I hunted this deer harder than I hunted any other deer in my life. There were many days I would sit in a stand all day. Sometimes, I wouldn’t leave the stand till a couple hours after dark.  I was afraid that I would give my position away to the other deer that were feeding around my stand.

This year, I let numerous good 8 points and 10 points bucks walk just waiting for a shot at “The Freak”.  I began reading and researching articles about hunting old bucks and applied the advice and knowledge. I studied topo maps, pinch points, natural funnels, bedding areas, moon phases and utilizing winds to my advantage. I used the scent-free soaps and deodorants. I did all the things that make your wife give you an eye roll. Even with all that, I could not get any in-person sightings.  To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. 

On November 30th, I finally got my first daylight pic of him around 8:30am.
He continued this cycle the rest of the week. While checking my cameras, I noticed every other good buck from the property had now disappeared. On my cams I never caught him with any does, just a small spike deer. Either he didn’t see him as competition or this was his designated spotter. The Freak’s tendencies to roam during the day now had changed the habits of all the other deer. I am certain he had been whipping their tails and running them off, making himself the reigning king.

On Dec 2nd, he showed his face around 5:30am. Then again at 11:47pm.  I noticed he had broken his left main beam off sometime during the day. Another battle, another fight for a doe or survival had left him with even more battle wounds. He was now, even more distinguished from the other bucks. It was disheartening to see him with less horns than before, but I still wanted him so bad I could taste him. It was coming down to an old hunter and an old buck, a battle of wits and patience.  He knew these woods like it was his own personal kingdom and I had been playing catch up for three years.

I was fatigued but optimistic. I even told some buddies I would kill him before 9am the next Saturday morning. I halfway believed it myself. I had dreams about bagging this majestic animal.  It sounds crazy but anyone with buck fever knows the feeling. The need to bag “the one” even invades your sleep. I dreamed about him. In the dream, I shot him, and when I went to retrieve him he stood up on his back legs and began talking to me.  He walked toward me and begged me to shoot him again because he was miserable. He yelled at me “shoot me in the head!” I replied “I can’t, I’m afraid I’ll mess your face up!”  Even in my dream I knew I would be having him mounted.

Saturday morning came early at 4:00am. I had planned this hunt all week. It was coming down to the wire. I had a long walk to get to where I needed to be.  I knew I had to put this to an end. For some reason I was 100% certain that this was gonna be the day. This time, I changed my approach to the stand.  I was certain  he had me patterned. He was a wise, old buck. A deer only lives to that age by being smart.  I was taking no chances. I parked my truck at a different spot and walked a good mile back into the deepest part of my hunting property.  I walked quietly, with no artificial light. I was channeling my inner bobcat, stalking my prey. I never cracked a leaf or a stick. The recent wet weather aided my ability to keep my stalk pure and silent. I knew if I made a sound the whole hunt would be over before It even started. He was smart. I had to be smarter.

Once I was seated in my stand it would be another 4 hours before I knew if I was successful in my new plan. At 8:43 am, he walked up.  He was cautious and slow. The moment I had waited three years for, was at hand. I dropped him right in his tracks with a Browning A-bolt .308, 168 gr Speer Gold Dot. After the shot, I saw him fall and I knew it was over. 

Anytime you achieve a goal that has consumed you, there is mixed emotion. Relief, excitement and just a tinge of sadness that this hunt is over. The feeling I felt the most though, was gratitude.  Grateful for the hunt, grateful for the bounty and grateful for the lessons he taught me.

I sat in my stand for a good 10 minutes processing it all before I felt like my legs would serve me properly.  I text my buddies and my wife that I had just killed “The Freak”.  I gathered my composure and walked over, and for the first time, laid eyes on this majestic creature. Only those that have suffered from buck fever will understand the feelings of a successful hunt like this. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment it brings. The way the end of the hunt makes all the sacrifices during the hunt, worth it. I was so glad it was over. I could rest easy now.

Some hunts were enjoyable, and some were absolutely miserable. One might say I “deserved” to kill this deer after all the time, money and hard work I had put into him, but the fact is, deserve had nothing to do with it.  It had everything to do with patience and being at the right place at the right time. Thank you for making me a better hunter, “Freak”.

14 points(with beam broke)
17 points if I can find other beam)
165 pounds
7 1/2 plus years old

17 points if I can find other beam)
165 pounds
7 1/2 plus years old

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