The Pontier Buck

As told by Austin Pontier

November 5th, 2016 is a day I’ll never forget. It all started in July 2016 when I first laid eyes on the deer that would forever leave an imprint on my mind. At this time of the year, I had been putting out trail cameras to figure what bucks had made it through the winter and spring. From July to the first of October I had been watching many large mature bucks on camera. At this time I had seven different bucks on my hit list. At the top of the list was OG, the Freak Nasty Twins, the Jacked Eight, Lucky Number Nine, Mr. Ugly, OG Junior and a few other big 10 pointers that would score around 155. I had spent many hours during the summer and fall developing new areas to hunt. During that time I had hung two new stands on the farm where the deer were moving through the area. I was ready for the season!

Opening weekend of bow season came fast and I was pumped to get in the stand even though the temperatures were very high for that time of year. The first weekend of bow season was rough because I didn’t see any of my shooters until October 8th when one of the big ten pointers came out at 150 yards. He fed all evening without getting closer than 100 yards. It was exciting thought getting to watch him at that distance and I knew it was a matter of time before the weather would turn cold and the bucks would be on their feet looking for does.

The following weekend I made a rookie mistake by leaving my stand six minutes before the end of shooting light. I was busted earlier in the day by a couple does and didn’t see anything the rest of the night, so I packed up and left the stand. The following afternoon I checked my trail camera cards and saw that Lucky Number 9 had walked right under my stand two minutes after I left. If I had been in the stand, I would have most likely had a clear shot on him with four minutes left of shooting light. This was a good lesson for me. From there on out I sat in the stand until the end of shooting light to ensure that I was taking advantage of every second I spent in my stand and not missing any major opportunities. I learned from this experience that at any given time any of my hit list bucks could show up even with four minutes of shooting light left.

November snuck up on me fast, I was balancing both college classes and a full schedule of college wrestling which keeps me very busy. Whenever I was able to catch some free time on the weekend I was in the deer stand, especially the first part of November. This is my favorite time of the year to hunt because the leaves have all changed and have started to drop and the air has become crisp with old man winter moving in. To me this is go time, because the bucks are all on their feet seeking out does and marking their territory.

The first five days in November I was not able to hunt a single one of them. I had been preparing during this week for my collegiate debut. All week I was cutting weight and preparing for the first tournament of the year. All I could think of that week was getting in the stand. My buddies had made me jealous all week by telling me what all they had been seeing and all the buck activity. I couldn’t wait until Sunday when I was finally able to crawl up into one of my tree stands.

The week slowly went by but Saturday was finally in the picture. After I got back from the tournament I packed up my stuff and went straight to my buddy Levi Sandquist’s house. After unpacking a few of my things at his house, my two best friends Levi and Dominic Cresta, and I went out coon hunting. This is something I never had done before and I was stoked to get to go with them. This experience is something that I will never forget. It’s an amazing feeling to be in the pitch dark and hear a hound treeing a coon. It’s one of the coolest sounds any hunter can ever hear. After a few hours of coon hunting we called it a night and headed back to Levi’s house to catch some shut eye before heading to the woods the next morning.

That morning I followed Levi into the stand hoping I could film him kill one of his hit list bucks. After passing on a few small bucks we crawled out of the stand to go support Dominic for his Eagle Scout project and by 1:00pm Levi and I were back at it. Before getting into the stand I stopped at an area where I had put a trail cam to see what was moving through that piece of the property. Shockingly my number 1 hit list buck OG was there the night before. This was a big surprise to me because I had not gotten any pictures of him on that piece of the farm.

Shortly after checking that trail camera I was pulling into the gate entrance to where I was hunting that night. As I was getting ready to step out of the truck my grandpa’s obituary fell out of my sun visor. I picked it up looked at it and put it back in its place. A strange feeling hit me at that very moment and I knew something weird was going to happen that night. I wasn’t for sure if it was something good or bad but I knew my grandpa was looking down on me.
The stand that I was hunting at, I had not hunted all year. It was the stand where I had many pictures of OG. I had the perfect wind that night and with the rut starting to kick in, I knew I had a good chance at seeing him.
After putting on my camo clothing and spraying myself down with Scent Away Levi and I gathered my stuff and we headed to the stand. That specific hunt Levi was going to film but ended up forgetting his camera, so we were left only with our phones.

We crawled into the stand at about 1:30pm. This stand had been on the farm for many years and it is the stand that I shot my first deer out of. I have had a lot of good and bad memories in this stand, from shooting some very nice bucks to missing some absolute giants.

The afternoon slowly passed without much activity. This was a total surprise to me because this is one of the best stands on the farm. Around 4:45pm two does and their fawns came out of the timber from the east and they went straight to the field to feed. After watching them for about 15 minutes I tried a grunting and rattling sequence. I did this to lure any buck out of the timber. Shortly after that, a small 6 point came out of the timber from the west of me, he made his way right under my stand. At this moment I looked up and glanced to my east from where the does had come out and saw OG. He was standing on the edge of the field in some tall grass staring straight at the six point under my stand. He had his ears pinned back and looked like he was on a mission to see what was going on. At this moment I whispered to Levi not to move and to not worry about getting it on film. I didn’t want to take any chances of spooking any of the deer around me, especially since we only had our phones.

After a couple minutes, that seemed like hours, OG started to step out at 60 yards and make his way across the field. The six point ran and headed back into the woods and this made OG stop at 55 yards. I wasn’t panicking for some reason and all I could feel was a steady heartbeat in my chest. After OG stopped Lucky number 9 stepped out at the opposite side of the field at 45 yards and they stared each other down for a couple minutes and started walking straight towards each other. At this moment I raised my crossbow and rested it on the railing of the stand. As the two giants walked toward each other preparing for battle I could hear them both breathing very heavily. Finally OG stopped right in front of my stand at 20 yards broadside and Lucky Number 9 had stopped about 25 yards from me quartered away. I took aim and sent the arrow flying to land right behind OGs shoulder. I heard a big thump and saw him run about 35 yards and stop on the edge of the field. He stopped for 20 seconds and fell over. I knew at this point it was over. That is when all the adrenaline hit me. I could barely put together what just happened. I was shocked. Levi and I could not believe what we just witnessed.

After crawling out of the stand and finding my arrow, I was finally able to put my hands on my number one hit list buck. All the hard work and money I put in during summer finally paid off. Moments like this is what I live for. I knew none of this would’ve been possible if I didn’t have my grandpa looking down on me during this hunt. It seemed like all the stars had aligned and it was my time to shine. A lot of people say it was pure luck, but they are wrong. It was the matter of me putting in my time checking trail cameras, hanging stands, the countless hours of hunting, using the right calls, quality deer management, luck and knowing my grandpa was with me the whole time.
Two things run in my blood and that’s hunting and wrestling. These two things are what I have grown up around and loved doing ever since I could walk. I would like to thank my dad, uncle, brothers, cousins and friends that have helped achieve this buck of a lifetime.