There are still deer hunters that are not convinced of the value in using trail cameras; Bill Rushford, a veteran U.P. hunter of 26 years, hunting since he was 12, is enthusiastically convinced! Bill has several blinds set up around Luce and Mackinac Counties and hunts in them as dictated by the wind direction. On Nov. 24 he was checking the photos on a trail camera he had set near one of his blinds in Luce Co. Bill remarked, “There hadn’t been a buck photo on that camera since I hung it back in Oct. and I couldn’t believe what I saw, I thought my buddies were playing a joke on me, I’ve never seen anything like this before!”
What Bill saw was a brute of a buck with foot long tines, 15-points in all, following a doe. Now, Luce and Mackinac Counties, although beautiful wilderness areas, are not known as trophy buck areas – that is until now.
With all the excitement, Bill, a counselor at the state prison in Newberry and family man — wife Shelly, daughters Jamie, 17 and Marissa, 13, and son and hunting buddy Brett, 14, knew he wouldn’t be able to hunt that blind until Nov. 26, which in the end proved to work perfectly.
“Having seen the trail camera photo of the buck really helped, I was ready, and I was prepared. I can’t imagine how I’d react if I saw him for the first time in a hunting situation.” And what Bill pulled off was impressive. He was in his blind that sits on the edge of hardwoods, which drops into a cedar swamp, for only a couple hours when just before five he saw a doe and right behind her was the big buck. The wind was swirling so Bill had only opened the front Plexiglas window on his homemade blind to reduce his scent. Of course, the buck came on the right side of the blind. So, there’s Bill with a buck of a lifetime standing 18 yards from his blind with its nose on the back side of the doe, side window closed and Bill a right handed shooter. What to do?
Bill said, “I feel you only get one chance at a buck like this and I had to react, I couldn’t take the chance that this buck would move to the front of the blind, so I had to stand up, take a step back and turn to the right, which I did without being detected. Now I still had a situation, the closed window. I figured my Remington 700 in 7 mm magnum would blow through the Plexiglas without any deflection, so I fired!”
Of course Bill experienced a multitude of emotions, from extreme excitement, to severe doubt. “After the shot both deer just seem to disappear, I felt confident about my aim but was unsure about deflection, so I stepped outside the blind and there stood the doe 50 yards away. My heart was racing, I looked to the area the buck was standing and saw nothing but saw blood right away and felt I had to check it out to see what happened. I wasn’t going to push this deer, I just had to see what kind of hit I had. The amount of blood I found gave me confidence I had a double lung shot. I followed it for 75 yards and there he was, and I started shaking!” recounted Rushford.
Bill calmed himself enough to tag the buck, and knowing he’d need help getting the 200 pound plus buck out of the woods he took off his bibs andcovered the deer with them, since Luce Co. has both wolves and coyotes. On the way home he was calling his family and friends. Once he arrived his family had just returned home as well and when his son, Brett, saw his dad home early he just knew dad must have gotten the “buck” and came running! The recovery turned into a big family get-together, everyone sharing in Bill’s hunt of a lifetime.
The DNR aged Bill’s buck at 5 ½ to 6 ½, taking photos of the jaw to have it verified. It dressed at 212 pounds and the 15 point had a 21 3/8 inch inside spread and unofficially green scored at 192 5/8 as a non-typical. There hasn’t been a non-typical Luce Co. buck scoring over 190 in 62 years. Bill’s biggest buck before this was a 9-point and he’s taken several nice 2 ½ year old 6 and 8-points but nothing like his Plexiglas trophy!