Outdoors: Hunter’s first deer a 14-pointer
By Dale Bowman Post-Tribune correspondent October 31, 2013 11:23PM
Zach Porter not only arrowed his first deer at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area, but turned out to be a trophy 14-pointer with split brow tines. | For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2013 12:04AM
Zach Porter knew from scrapes and big hoof prints that a good buck was around where he set his stand in Area 4 of Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area.
Just how big, he found out when he arrowed his first deer, a freak 14-pointer with bits of velvet hanging on and so old its teeth were gone.
As first deer stories go, this is as good as it gets.
Porter, 26, is an outdoorsy guy who camped and rock climbed, but he only hunted a bit with his grandfather when younger. He had shot a bow, so this year he decided to take up bowhunting for deer. His girlfriend’s father, Scott Harrington, hunts. Porter practiced three times a week to sharpen his skills.
“Once I got used to it and was shooting a tight group, then I decided to go out,’’ said Porter, who lives in Hebron.
Four or five times a week, before or after work, operating cranes and loaders at Tube City IMS in Portage, or on weekends, he would hunt at Kingsbury.
“I saw lots of deer, but nothing to shoot at,’’ Porter said.
Then came Oct. 17.
“I just sat down in the stand about 4,’’ he said. “He came trotting out at 4:25. I shot him at 4:30. Walked right in front of me.’’
OK, Porter had a touch of buck fever, but he settled himself and drew back when the buck walked behind a bit of brush.
“Once I drew it back, I took a few big breaths and calmed down,’’ he said.
When the buck was in the open at about 15-20 yards, Porter made a solid double-lunge shot with Rage broadheads and his Bear Archery Apprentice 2 bow. The buck only ran about 20 yards and dropped.
“When it walked out, I had no clue how big it was,’’ Porter said. “I was paying more attention to how he was walking. I had no idea he was a 14-point until I walked up on the deer.’’
Then comes the gory part. For that, Porter called Harrington.
“I had never field dressed a deer before,’’ Porter said. “He came out and gave me the run down.’’
It field-dressed at 180 pounds and the 14 points included split brow tines. The meat was processed into a good variety, including jerky and summer sausage. Phares Taxidermy in Westville is doing the mount.
For those of us who hunted for decades and never had a shot at a deer like that, Porter said, “Believe me, I know how hard it is to come across a deer like that.’’
It’s prime time for bucks. Corn harvest is well underway and the rut nears peak.
Fishing: Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said “fresh steelhead have been bouncing in the streams with the rain we are having.’’ He added when boats get out, lakers are being taken, even some from shore at Michigan City. ... Hints come of perch action on Lake Michigan, even one limit in 58 feet off Gary Light on Tuesday. The fall perch bite could be near. ... Otherwise, it is crappie time on local lakes and rivers.
Waterfowl: More ducks are arriving at Willow Slough FWA. Hunters are bagging more more mallards and pintails, but the bulk of harvest remains wood ducks and teal. ... Water will help, but maybe only Blind 28 will be open when the Baker Unite opens Saturday at LaSalle FWA.
Clubbing: Scott Hansen, a knife representative, will speak at the Lake County Fish and Game (lakecountyfishandgame.org) meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the clubhouse in Griffith.
Cranes: The crane count at Jasper-Pulaski FWA won Monday was up to 8,445. The peak for sandhills stopping there generally comes around Thanksgiving.