Neil Snow wasn’t shy about sharing his secret to killing the trophy 10-, no, make that a trophy 13-point buck that he and son Gabe had been hunting for two years on the family’s Winston County farm.
“It was simply a case of being at the right place at the right time,” said Snow of Louisville.
The right place was in the shooting house over a big field and the right time was very late in the afternoon on Dec. 23. That was when the big buck made its second, and final mistake, of its life.
“Funny thing about that buck, which we thought was a big 10-point, was that we’d had pictures of him for three years but we had never seen him with our eyes at all, until about a week before Dad shot him,” said Gabe Snow, a self-proclaimed “trail cam junkie.”
All of the pictures, and there weren’t that many, had been taken at night.
“We started hunting him in 2011 when we had gotten pictures of a good main-frame 10-point,” Gabe Snow said. “We were getting them every night for about two or three weeks. Then in 2012 he showed up again, but only for about a week and then we never saw him again.
“In 2013, before the season, we got only one picture of him and it was not a good one, kind of foggy but he looked like a bigger, heavier 10. It was pretty obvious it was the same big deer we’d been seeing.”
Choosy about the deer they shoot on the 600-acre farm, the big buck moved to the top of a very short hit list of bucks for the 2013-14 season. Midway of the season, it appeared the buck would make it another year.
“Then, about a week or so before Dad shot him, my girlfriend and I were in the same stand one afternoon, she looking out a window on one side and me on the other side,” Gabe Snow said. “We had some deer in the field and I heard a limb snap and told her that we were about to see another deer. A second or two later, a doe walked out in the direction I had heard the snap and I asked her if she saw it.
“I handed her the binoculars and she looked and immediately said ‘that’s not a doe, it’s a big buck.’ Apparently he walked out with the doe and I didn’t see him before I handed her the binoculars. I looked at it and we immediately switched around in the stand so I could get the gun up.”
The problem was that it was pushing the limits of legal hours and was getting dark quick.
“It was 5:30 and when I got the scope and crosshairs on the buck, I couldn’t tell for sure if I was looking at the shoulder or the hind quarter so I didn’t shoot,” Gabe Snow said. “I was devastated and she had to console me. I just knew that a buck like that didn’t make but one mistake and I had failed to take advantage of it.”
This buck would make another, and it would be Neil Snow who would cash in.
“It was two days before Christmas and Dad had been working most of the day helping me put up one of those heavy cypress swing sets for my children for Christmas,” Gabe Snow said. “It was getting late and I asked Dad if we was going to go hunting. He said ‘Yeah, and isn’t it my turn to sit in the big house stand?’ I told him it was.”
Said Neil Snow: “We didn’t have a lot of time because it was getting late already so we hurried up and got our stuff and got in the truck. In my haste, I forgot my binoculars and we don’t hunt without them. We’re choosy about our bucks and never hunt without binoculars, especially me since I don’t see as good as I used to.
“Well, Gabe said I could use his since the area he was going to hunt he wouldn’t need them and it was late and not worth going all the way back to the house to get them.”
Neil Snow went to the stand, with the binoculars, and spent the afternoon watching deer come and go. At 5:20, he said he opened the windows of the shooting house.
“I waited until the last minute because the wind was blowing pretty good and I didn’t want to get messed up,” he said. “It was getting dark pretty quick and I grabbed the binoculars and at 5:25 I decided to take one more look around the field. I was scanning it and I spotted the big buck and had to do a double take.
“I wasn’t sure it was that buck, but I knew as soon as I saw it that it was a sure shooter. I put the binoculars down, grabbed my gun and put it out the window and found him in the scope and shot him. He fell dead on the spot.”
Dad immediately went to check the buck, and discovered it was indeed the big one they’d been chasing, but that instead of a 10-point, it was a 13.
“I had to tell Gabe so I called him,” he said.
The son didn’t answer.
“I was about 200 or 300 yards away and I heard the shot, so I knew he had probably shot a good buck, because that’s all he shoots,” Gabe Snow said. “But I had deer in the field so I let the call go to voice mail.”
After all, it was the final minutes of the day when magic happens.
“Then he texts me, and I get this message that says, ‘I got him, and he’s not a 10, he’s a 13,’” Gabe Snow said. “I got excited and went over there to help him.”
The buck has been green-scored at 161 6/8 inches gross, with mass being its best characteristic. It has 5-inch bases, and carries 4 3/8 inches all the way to the fourth measurement.
It is tall, but not very wide, with an inside spread of just 16 inches.
“It isn’t that wide, but it is a beautiful typical deer with a lot of symmetry,” Gabe Snow said. “It is Dad’s best deer and he’s killed a lot of them. We have a lot of bucks on the wall, both of us, all from within 200 to 300 yards of where he shot that buck. He hasn’t had one mounted since 1999 so I’m really happy for him.”
The mount won’t be the only memory the Snows have of the buck. There are the trail camera images, including one last little visit just seconds before the kill shot.
“Yep, one of Gabe’s cameras that takes video was in the field and you can see the buck walk past the cam and see the big house stand in the background,” Neil Snow said. “A few seconds after he walks out of the frame you can hear the ‘plink’ of the rifle going off.
“It’s pretty neat.”
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