The Sophie Buck


5 year old buck +
Guess this story got started back on 3/5/21, when my son Chris and I found the matched shed from an ordinary 2.5 year old 8 with browtines that swoop back. The kids gave the buck the name because early that morning we had our dog, Sophie, put to sleep.

Deer often disappear around here, never to be heard from again. We frequently hear about what the neighbors harvest, but we don't hear about what the public or gov't snipers shoot. The Sophie buck returned in the fall as a 3.5 year old 8, several inches bigger, but nothing spectacular. He was now the size that nearly all my neighbors would shoot, so the odds weren't in his favor. He prevailed through all the various seasons, but would he make it through the 2.5 month long sniper season? That was our worry. A buck that age still has a pretty large range, and the dnr has pretty long guns.

Just before Halloween of '22, Sophie returned to our farm as a strong and muscular 4.5 year old. He still roamed many farms, but he was clearly a dominant buck on the majority of our own acres. He rarely went to our south end. He played his cards well that fall, and made it through the seasons unscathed. My 5 year old son, Toby, was hunting with me on the second to last day of the season, when the buck slipped up and showed himself to us in daylight. It made Toby sad, but we opted to pass the buck that afternoon. I explained how the deer had made it that far, and was so close to only having sniper season to make it through. I said in a perfect world we'd find his sheds, he'd live to see his 5th birthday, and maybe he'd grow or add a giant droptine.

We found those sheds, and low and behold this past summer my good neighbor sent me velvet pics of an unmistakable swooped back browtine buck with a giant droptine. Sophie moved onto our farm earlier in the fall than any of his prior years. We had pictures of an ancient 7.5 year old buck, and we also had hope of (what would turn out to be) a monster 200 incher that ranged up our way occasionally from his home core further south. Sadly both those deer were taken in bow season before I had a chance to really start focusing on hunting. I was down to only one buck on my list.

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The Sophie buck enjoyed living on our farm all fall. He was relatively easy to lay eyes on a few times. We have another resident 5.5 who I've never layed eyes on (but we've found his sheds three straight years), and a resident 4.5 (our heaviest buck) who I haven't physically seen in two years. I think maybe his dominance made him more visible. On our gun opener night, he travelled with a doe past my dad, who didn't risk an unethical shot, and made it to Chris and I a half mile away, but in range and broadside only 70 yards away, two minutes after legal light. It was an ordeal trying to get out of the stand undetected with a buck we assumed was still working a scrape line.

I bowhunted only 4 times this year. Unbelievably I had the buck within 60 yards 3 of those times. I was able to photograph and film him each time.

After last weekend's 5th out of 6 gun seasons, my dad mentioned he couldn't find his winter blaze orange cap. I drove into where we sometimes park near two old cattle self-feeders, to look for it, and since I was there, I pulled a few nearby cards. Didn't find his cap, but Sophie buck was indeed alive, intact, and hitting our big destination plot just after dark. West winds were keeping us out of that area. Our farm has only west access.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon, knowing the deer was in the area, having a rare SE wind that is perfect for one of our best stands, and being able to juggle work and kids, I showered scent free and headed in. In the stand I was reading through the rokslide thread someone here recently posted about the hunt quietly movement. Looked up and saw a doe slipping into a little micro plot / pinch / gauntlet type corridor where the creek on one side and a heavy strip of steep cover on the other side funnel them into the open. Behind the doe out came a rack and another deer, a fawn. Put the binocs up and it was Sophie and he was missing a browtine...he had fought very recently to win the right to be with one of those two deer, I'm guessing the fawn. I took some pictures and waited, heart pounding, for 15 minutes while the three deer slowly browsed their way toward me, eventually closing the distance from 80 yards to 15. He turned, moved his front leg forward, and the shot went well. He walked a few yards, layed down, and otherwise peacefully expired in about 90 seconds.

Thanks for reading a somewhat long story. I don't write much usually, but thought this one deserved a few words. A few good members of the forum kept me encouraged to stay after this deer. He dressed just under 200 lbs, which is not bad considering it's January and not Sept. Inside spread of 21.5". Not a record book rack, but he was the one I was after, a 5.5 year old king of the woods.

Thanks for sharing the story of a great harvest. Your trigger control, preparation and patience paid off with a great mature buck.
That is a cool buck! Congrats
Congrats! Great story and wonderful character on Sophie!
Congrats Mort, that's a great buck! Love that drop tine. Your persistence really paid off!
Awesome awesome deer and story! Glad I could be an intrigual part of it with the rockslide link!
Wow! Awesome buck!
Congrats Mort, that is a great deer and a great story!
Great story and very cool buck!
Super buck way to get some age on him
Definitely a cool old buck, Congratulations!
That drop tine is amazing, how long as it?
Did the velvet never fully detach from the bottom of that drop tine?
Congrats on a real brute! Those wide bucks are eye-catchers, and the drop tine is unreal. Way to wait him out.
Thanks guys. I'm not sure where exactly to measure the drop, but it seems it's probably 10.5". Longest point on the rack. Yes that's dried black velvet. Most the fall it was "tidy" looking, and recently it started peeling off more in shreds. Caped him yesterday. Today we butcher.

Awesome looking head ^ ^ ^ ^, Mort.
Thx for sharing and congrats on a special buck!!!