For Pittsboro native Jake Muehlbach, North Carolina’s opening day of bow season was almost his last opportunity at a big nine-point buck he had been watching for over a month, thanks to Hurricane Irma, even though the storm damage was over 1,000 miles away on the Florida peninsula.
“I was getting dispatched to Florida to help restore power and I was going to be leaving anytime for three to four weeks,” said Muehlbach, an electrical utility lineman. “I knew he would be changing his patterns and disappear. I was sweating bullets,” he said.
Ever since August, Muehlbach began collecting trail camera photos of the huge nine pointer and he couldn’t wait until opening day to arrive on his Chatham County hunting property. But with his career skills needed in Florida, his time allotted in the stand was shortened much quicker than he ever anticipated.
Surprisingly, the buck failed to come out for Muehlbach on opening morning, even though trail camera photos showed the buck coming to the stand each day around sunrise.
“He was coming in like clockwork in the morning, but very little in the afternoon,” he said.
That afternoon, Muehlbach slipped into the stand about 4:30 and was just getting situated for the afternoon. Then, he got a text from his job telling him they would be moving out on Sunday morning.
“I knew then, I only have one afternoon to get this done and the time is now. It was now or never, the pressure was on,” he said.
As the afternoon crept by, Muehlbach watched a few deer come in, including a big doe that was hanging right beneath his stand. And then at 6:30 p.m., he got a glimpse of the buck, which was circling around the periphery of his stand and stepped into an opening just 30 yards away. But, the doe was still under his stand, so Muehlbach had to be still. Also, he was videoing the hunt and the camera wasn’t ready. He waited, and the buck eased off, making another circle through the pines.
Then, the buck showed back up only 20 yards away on the corn and was standing perfectly broadside and in perfect camera view. Muehlbach drew back and released his arrow, clipping a lung and one of the lobes of the deer’s liver.
The deer ran hard for 150 yards and piled up.
With a 21-inch wide rack, this nine pointer is one of the biggest bucks of Muehlbach's life, with the potential to score in the 130s. And he got it just the nick of time before heading south for the rest of the bow season.