U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- On many deer hunts, bucks appear, disappear, vanish within range or may be too far away to take the shot. A deer hunt can be a roller coaster ride of emotion, and that’s what happened to Ronald “Bubba” Belk of Sheridan, Montana, when he went after the Pitchfork Buck with the film crew of “The Bucks of Tecomate” TV Show.
In 2014, Belk hunted deer in southeastern Kansas with Larry Ellis, the outfitter of Extreme Wildlife Adventures (http://www.ewahunting.com – 405-545-2129) of Hinton, Oklahoma. Also in camp were David Morris and some cameramen from “The Bucks of Tecomate” TV show (http://outdoorchannel.com/the-bucks-of-tecomate) during the first week of the Kansas muzzleloader season. “Larry Ellis had trail-camera pictures of a nice shooter whitetail feeding in a milo field, just before daylight, that he had named the Pitchfork Buck, because both sides of his rack with their long tines looked like pitchforks,” Belk explains. “But from the picture we couldn’t tell exactly how big the buck’s rack was.”
All day Monday and Tuesday morning, the first days of the hunt, the wind was wrong for Belk to hunt the Pitchfork Buck in the milo field. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the wind changed, and Belk climbed into a tree stand to hunt. Ellis got into a nearby ground blind in hopes of seeing the buck. Just at dark, the big Pitchfork Buck appeared along with two bucks in the 140 Boone & Crockett class. Ellis and Belk prayed the bucks wouldn’t wind them as they walked in front of Ellis’ ground blind, since the time was 15 minutes after legal shooting. On Wednesday morning with both men in the same ground blind, Belk saw the two 140-class bucks again but not the Pitchfork Buck.
After the morning hunt, Belk and Ellis pulled the SD card from the trail camera near the tree stand and once again saw the Pitchfork Buck going to the milo. When David Morris saw this picture, he told Belk, “You can say yes or no to what I’m going to ask you. No matter what you answer, I’ll still feel the same about you. Your hunt with that buck needs to be shared with the world, because he’s a world-class buck. I’d like my cameraman to film your hunt, and I promise the cameraman won’t interfere with your hunt.” “I’d never been involved with TV or having a hunt videoed before, but I said, ‘Okay, let’s give it a shot,’” Belk remembers.
Before the Wednesday afternoon hunt, Ellis and Belk decided that the milo was so high they needed to move an elevated stand to where they’d spotted the big buck for Belk to be able to see the buck in the milo. They hung a platform stand about 40 yards in front of the ground blind where they’d hunted previously that morning. Belk climbed into the tree stand, and the cameraman moved into the ground blind.
“In the afternoon, I saw a 160-inch, 10-point buck walking the edge of the wood line,” Belk recalls. “At any other time, I’d have taken him. However, the 10 pointer kept turning and looking back into the woods. That’s when I spotted Pitchfork going into the milo field with my binoculars and saw him raking the velvet off his antlers and throwing the milo stalks up in the air. This continued for 1-1/2-hours, about 275 yards from me. I was so excited. I watched Pitchfork for so long and so hard that I had to pour the sweat out of my binoculars’ eye caps. Since the cameraman couldn’t see Pitchfork, he didn’t get any footage of the deer that evening.”
On Thursday, Belk spotted the two, 140-class bucks but once more didn’t see the 10 pointer or Pitchfork. Then on Friday morning, no bucks showed up. However, on Friday afternoon, with only about 20 minutes of shooting light left, a 130-inch 8-pointer walked in front of Belk and down the edge of the milo field. Belk constantly scanned the milo field with his binoculars, hoping to spot one of the larger bucks from earlier in the week. The cameraman kept filming the 8 pointer and then saw Pitchfork and filmed him walking through the milo.
“Larry Ellis was sitting about 900 yards out on a road with his spotting scope on the milo field,” Belk mentions. ”He’d seen Pitchfork well within my range and couldn’t believe I wasn’t taking a shot. From my vantage point, I thought Pitchfork was the 8 pointer I’d seen earlier, because he was in almost exactly the same place. Although the cameraman and Larry both were looking at Pitchfork, I hadn’t even spotted him.”
Belk felt his cell phone vibrate in his shirt pocket and saw the cameraman had texted him with the message, “Kill him!” “I couldn’t understand why the cameraman wanted me to shoot the 8-pointer,” Belk says. “I put the phone back in my pocket, and it started vibrating again with a text from Larry saying, ‘Shoot!’”
Belk picked up his binoculars and looked at what he thought was the 8 pointer. However, this time Belk recognized Pitchfork. As the light faded, Pitchfork walked toward Belk. “Although I didn’t want to shoot Pitchfork in the chest, I knew I couldn’t shoot the deer after legal shooting time,” Belk reports. “With Pitchfork 85 yards away, I was confident that my Thompson/Center Omega (https://www.tcarms.com) was dead-on at 100-yards and that the 300 grain Harvester (https://www.harvestermuzzleloading.com/) PT sabot would put the buck down efficiently. Looking through my Leupold(https://www.leupold.com) VX-3, 3.5-10X40MM riflescope, I squeezed the trigger.”
Pitchfork took the bullet and ran about 75 yards before entering the very thick woods.
“There was no blood trail,” Belk explains. “I told Larry, ‘I don’t want to jump that deer up in the dark. Let’s come back in the morning to find him.’”
The following morning David Morris, his cameraman and Belk searched for Pitchfork. They discovered the Pitchfork Buck, that later green scored 232-1/8, lying dead by a dry creek bed and just off the field’s edge. Belk took his buck of a lifetime and was able to capture the hunt on an episode of “The Bucks of Tecomate” TV show.
- BTR Score – Buckmasters’ Composite Score – Number of Inches: 213-5/8
- Official Buckmasters’ Score: 195-5/8 (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 http://johninthewild.com/books/#deer to get more info about this deer hunting book and other deer hunting books by John E. Phillips.