A Preview of John E. Philip’s ‘Thomas Waters’ Invisible Buck’

Ammoland Shooting Sports

USA -(Ammoland.com)- If there ever was a young man heavily infected by the deer hunting bug, it is 27-year-old Thomas Waters from Mobile, Alabama, whose uncle, Darrin Borsage, started Waters hunting about the same time Waters could walk.

All of his life, he dreamed about taking a monster buck.

On January 13, 2014, Waters’ impossible dream came true on a heavily wooded 570-acre tract near Hayneville, Alabama – on his friend’s cattle farm.

“In 2010, I spotted this huge buck with a massive rack off in a distance crossing a hay field,” Waters remembers.

Later Waters learned that the buck was a 3-year old the first time he saw him but never saw the buck again in person until he took him. He only hunted this land a couple of weekends during the season.

Knowing he’d have to pattern this big buck to take him, Waters put out a Moultrie game camera at the only place on this property where he’d never hunted.

He assumed this big buck was using that area as a daytime sanctuary, since all the trail-camera pictures he had of the buck were taken after dark. No one else was hunting the farm but him.

While driving from Mobile to Hayneville, something told Waters to hunt this spot he’d never hunted before during his 3-day hunt. He knew he probably wouldn’t return to this property during the Alabama 2013 – 2014 deer season.

Waters planned to hunt a horseshoe-shaped area that V’d into a small funnel with a creek on one side of the edge of the woods and a planted pine plantation on the other, where the trail-camera pictures showed this buck.

John E. Philips
John E. Philips

The owner of the neighboring land across the road from where Waters hunted had 4 years of trail-camera pictures of this buck that he’d intensively hunted. But all the trail-camera pictures he had were taken after dark.

The buck was 100 percent nocturnal and invisible during the daytime.

When Waters went to the woods on this January day, he took the .30-06 Springfield rifle his granddaddy had given him. A bush-hogged path cut along the edge of the pines where you could see 150 yards one way and 350 yards the other.

At the bottleneck, the bush-hogged path made a U-turn and went back along the edge of the creek and turned up. In the middle of the bush-hogged path was a strip of woods between the creek and the pines about 200- or 300-yards wide.

On the first morning, Waters walked down the 350-yard bush-hogged path. At daylight, he spotted three does at the back end of the funnel – almost exactly where he’d planned to put his tree stand.

“I quietly sat down in the road, brought my rifle to my knee and looked at the does with my Bushnell riflescope,” Waters explains. “I hoped a big buck was following those does and sat there about an hour. After the does left, I hurried to hang my tree stand. I adjusted my climber. Then when I returned, I’d only have to get in the climber, go up the tree and hunt.”

Waters got in his climber at 3:30 pm and went up the tree. After 15 minutes, the big buck that he’d seen 4 years before and had trail-camera pictures of walked out at about 225 yards into the 350 yard bush-hogged lane in low light. The buck then turned and walked straight to Waters to within 125 yards and turned broadside to head back into the woods.

Waters grunted to stop the buck. The deer turned and looked away from him, and Waters squeezed the trigger. The buck jumped straight up about 7 feet in the air and landed on his stomach.

“In only a few seconds, the buck got his front feet back under him and was sitting on his hind legs like a dog sitting on the front porch,” Waters says. “I fired a second shot right behind the front shoulder, causing the buck to fall over on his side, motionless. After that second shot, I was a nervous wreck. I sat in my stand for a few minutes to calm down.”

As Waters climbed down the 15 feet to the ground, he spotted the buck suddenly up on all four feet, walking. Waters locked the bottom portion of his climbing tree stand into the tree, took his rifle off his shoulder and fired the third shot. The buck went down again.

Waters sat in his tree stand, kept his rifle on the buck and his crosshairs on the kill zone and waited 20 minutes before making any moves. Next Waters wondered how he’d get the deer out and keep a pack of coyotes from eating him or a poacher from taking the buck.

“Part of me wanted to cry tears of joy, and another part of me wanted to laugh,” Waters reports. “My emotions were a mess, as I sat beside this monstrous buck. This buck was the biggest deer I ever had seen alive or dead or even dreamed about taking.”

Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks by John E. Phillips
Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks by John E. Phillips

After dark, Waters made the decision to try to drag the deer a mile back to his camp but only went about 10 feet due to his heavy hunting clothes and big Muck boots.

Waters was so afraid something would happen to this buck of a lifetime that he started running back to camp but only traveled 200 yards before having to start walking due to exhaustion. Waters finally got the 4-wheeler and loaded the monstrous buck on the 4-wheeler, before making pictures and phone calls.

The buck was officially scored by Steve Lucas of Buckmasters at 202 – 4/8, was aged at 7 years old and had 29 – scorable points.

* BTR Score – Buckmasters’ Composite Score – Number of Inches: 202 – 4/8

* Official Buckmasters’ Score: 189-4/8 (doesn’t include inside spread of main beams)

This is an excerpt from John E. Phillips newest book “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks.” Click here to get more info about this deer hunting book and other deer hunting books by John E. Phillips.