Vicki Mountz is no stranger to bowhunting, or to big whitetails. “I’ve been bowhunting since about 1976, and with a crossbow for probably 20 years,” says Mountz. “I still hunt with a compound, but I always use my crossbow when I hunt the urban zone,” she adds. “I have a lot of confidence in putting an animal down with it.”
It, in this case, is her Horton Legend, shooting stock arrows tipped with 100-grain Cabela’s Lazer Strike mechanical broadheads.
Initially, Mountz didn’t have high expectations for the locale she and husband Greg planned to hunt one weekend a few years ago: “This is the urban zone. I’ve been hunting on this place for 15 years,” she says. “Usually we take a considerable number of does. If you see a nice buck, that’s a bonus.” But she already knew her odds were better than usual, thanks to pictures from one of the trail cameras she and Greg use to keep tabs on the deer in the area. “We’d already caught one big buck on the camera,” she relates, “and nicknamed him ‘Gnarly’ because of his antlers.”
Vicki and Greg had been in Florida the week before their hunt. Several days passed before they got a chance to re-check the cameras, and the news was even better than they’d hoped. The latest pictures showed a newcomer, and the couple named him the “Double Triple” because of his brow tines. The bad news was that the pictures were shot early in the week, and they wouldn’t get a chance to hunt until the following Sunday.
It wasn’t until about 9 that morning that the woods suddenly came to life. “The first deer through were a doe and fawn,” recalls Mountz. Soon four bucks followed them, with one buck staying off to side and acting wary. When Vicki heard crunching behind her left shoulder, she wanted to see what was making the lead buck nervous.
Slowly Vicki eased her head around, and the sight nearly took her breath away. “My first thought was, ‘Oh shoot, don’t look at his head!’ ” she says. “I didn’t know exactly what he was, but I knew he was big and I definitely wanted to shoot him.” The veteran bowhunter quickly composed herself and focused on an open shooting lane. “He came right into my window,” she recalls. Her sight found the target and her arrow found its mark. The shot struck home, though the hunt was far from over.
Almost immediately, Mountz felt doubtful. “I knew I had shot a little high,” she says. “I saw the arrow go in and thought it was a bit back, too, but still a killing shot.” From her stand, she watched as the wounded buck dashed off, and in the worst possible direction. “My stand is about 80 yards from a deep ravine that drops about 100 yards straight down,” she says. “You don’t want an animal to go down there.” But that’s exactly where the buck was headed when Vicki lost sight of him. Then she saw him again, walking on the rim of the ravine for another 20 yards before dropping out of sight.
A wave of emotion came over her — a combination of adrenaline letdown, doubt over her shot and concern for losing the buck in the nearby hellhole. She waited several minutes before climbing down. “I went 12 or 13 yards away, where he was when I shot, and I couldn’t find the arrow,” she recalls. “By then, I was really concerned.” She knew better than to risk pushing the deer, so she went to find Greg. The pair headed to town and had a cup of coffee.
They went back later and quickly found the blood trail, but decided to back out again and wait another six hours. “I knew if he was alive and I pushed him up he’d go down that creek bottom and we’d never see him again,” says Mountz.
When they returned, Vicki and Greg took great pains to move slowly and quietly for fear of pushing the buck down into the ravine or out into the densely populated urban zone. They followed the trail farther, almost to the edge, when they found the arrow. Still nervous the buck might be alive, they crawled along, hiding and glassing from the edge of the ravine.
“There’s kind of a plateau before it drops straight down,” says Vicki. “Deer lay up there sometimes, and we thought maybe that’s what my buck had done.”
Sure enough, they found the buck lying dead in middle of the trail, 10 yards from where Mountz had last seen it alive. Greg saw the buck first and instantly recognized it. “Oh my God, you killed the Double Triple!,” he gasped. They both stared in awe, admiring the buck’s rack. The Double Triple sported 18 points. The right and left base circumferences were 6 4/8 and 71/8 inches, respectively. The heavy brow tines split into three separate points from which the buck derived his nickname. The main frame, which barely missed 150 typical inches, bore over 30 inches of abnormal points, pushing the net non-typical score to 172 4/8.
“It’s by far the biggest deer I’ve ever killed,” says Mountz, adding, “I missed his big brother a couple years earlier.” That buck is probably long gone, but you can bet his genes and those of the Double Triple’s are flowing through that small woodlot. And you can be sure that Vicki and Greg will be back there this fall looking for them.