Kevin Sumrall, who a few days earlier had helped his best hunting buddy kill a potential Warren County record buck, might have just discovered a new cure for a case of strep throat.

Just suck it up — and then go kill a trophy buck.

“It’s amazing how much better I feel now,” Sumrall said the morning of Oct. 10 after recovering the 136-inch buck he arrowed the evening before. “It’s a main-frame 8-point with a bunch of cool junk on the bases. It has 12 scorable points, total, and that weird little point on its left base that looks just like a fish hook.

“That’s how he got the name ‘Fish Hook’”

It was the same buck that had been keeping Sumrall’s pal Tony Mills from shooting Half-Rack, a 170-inch deer the two teamed up to take down on Oct. 6.

“It was kind of funny, because every time Tony would see his big buck, Fish Hook would come out and run him off,” Sumrall said. “We went together, and when Fish Hook came out I was able to call him away from Tony before Half-Rack came out.”

That gave Mills a chance to get a shot at his trophy buck before the younger, smaller but more-aggressive Fish Hook could interfere. After their success, Mills said his next goal was to help Sumrall get Fish Hook.

He would do exactly that, but not exactly the way he meant.

Brandon’s Sumrall went to their Warren County camp alone, feeling awful and wanting to get away.

“My doctor told me Wednesday morning that I had strep throat and would be contagious for 24 hours,” Sumrall said. “He gave me a shot and some prescriptions, and said I would feel better in 36 hours. I didn’t want to go home and risk infecting my wife and daughter, so I went to deer camp.

“When I got over there, I decided I’d just as soon sit in a deer stand than lay around, so I went hunting. The doctor didn’t tell me there was anything I should or should not do, so I went. We have these deer patterned pretty good, and I had a pretty good idea that I would see some deer.”

The only thing the strep made Sumrall do different that afternoon would become a key in his successful hunt.

“I didn’t feel like climbing a tree, so I hunted from a pop-up ground blind,” he said. “Two reasons: One, I felt bad and, two, it was closer to the spot where Fish Hook came out on (the hunt with Mills). I got in the blind at about 4 (p.m.).

“It’s in cutover that’s pretty grown-up near a big block of hardwoods. Deer like to graze through, feeding on dewberries before they go to the acorn trees. That’s exactly what Fish Hook did.”

Sumrall said Fish Hook walked out at 6:20 p.m., just 30 yards from the blind.

“The cutover is so thick you can’t see them until they are about 30 yards, so he just suddenly was there,” Sumrall said. “He wasn’t standing still or nervous; he was just feeding along eating dewberries. When he was 29.2 yards out on my rangefinder, I took the shot.

“It wasn’t a great shot. I hit high, above the lungs but under the backstrap. It was good enough.”

The buck jumped and ran out of sight. Sumrall waited 20 minutes and, with sunset approaching rapidly, went to look for blood.

“I knew it was getting dark, so I thought I’d try to find the arrow or blood where he was standing when I shot,” he said. “I didn’t find either. I texted Tony and told him I’d shot Fish Hook, and he told me to stop and wait for him. He didn’t want me looking for him without him being there.”

Mills hurried to get there.

“I started packing for camp right then and drove straight to where he was,” he said.

The two men started looking, and were hardcore in their search.

“After two hours, Tony finally found one drop of blood in a creek bed next to the cutover,” Sumrall said. “That was it. One drop. We decided to back out, leave and come back in the morning.”

It was a good decision, Mills said.

“I heard that buck in the thicket, and I knew that if we pushed him, he would get up and leave, and we’d never find him,” Mills said. “We were tired, so we went to bed.”

Not necessarily to sleep, Sumrall said.

“Oh no, I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night, thinking about that buck,” Sumrall said. “I was feeling pretty rough, too, on top of being worried. But we got out there again at 7 the next morning  (Oct. 10) and went back to that one spot of blood.

“We never found another drop, but I got down on my hands and knees and started crawling on this trail. It was so thick in there, but after about 25 yards I looked up and saw his white belly laid up in that thick mess. He was dead.”

Sumrall’s arrow was still there, sticking out both sides of the buck just below the spine.

“That was the problem with no blood,” the hunter said. “The arrow was stuck and plugging both holes. The shot was good enough, and if the arrow had done a complete pass through there would have been more blood.”

The buck weighed 220 pounds, and Sumrall green scored it 136 inches. Its main beams were 20 inches, and its longest tines were both 10 inches.

“Not bad, and I am glad I made that decision to pass on that buck last year where I first saw him on my birthday,” he said. 

Just 10 days into the archery season, the two close friends have each helped each other get the No. 1 buck on their hit lists.

“I’m just glad I was able to help him recover Fish Hook,” Mills said. “It’s been a great week. I mean a really great week.”

Click here to read about other big bucks killed this season.

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