FILLMORE?— It’s a question that is a part of every hunt.
When is the right time to call it quits for the day? Should I climb out of the tree stand and head for the waiting warmth of cabin or home now, or maybe wait a few more minutes?
Fillmore native Elliott Austin was asking himself those questions on the second day of the season. The morning had been miserable ever since he got into his stand a little before 7 a.m., a strong wind seemingly sending the rain at him from all directions.
The wet conditions weren’t his only incentive to bring the hunt to an early end. It was his birthday, and he had tickets to watch the Bills take on the Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium later in the day. Three weeks of hunting season still lay ahead, ample opportunity to hit the woods when the weather was more cooperative.
“It was raining, the wind was whipping, and it was just real crappy out,”?Austin recalled. “It was so wet out. I was soaking wet. I was sitting there and I didn’t see a thing all morning. I hadn’t even heard any shots.”
Still, Austin waited.
He texted his dad that he was going to give it another 45 minutes before returning home. The morning was starting to get late, and they wanted to be on the road to Orchard Park by 10 a.m.
Then, not 15 minutes after he hit the Send button on his phone, Austin detected movement in some thick brush off in the distance. Even from 150 yards away, the buck looked big. Austin raised his .30-30 lever action and fired.
“It dropped right there. I called my dad and I was screaming and yelling because I was so happy,” Austin said. “I ran right over. I knew it was big, but I didn’t know exactly how big it was. I ran down and called him again as soon as I got there. I was like wow, I shot a monster.”
Had he ever. The 10-point rack on the buck posted a 165 3/8 green score, and the heavyweight came in at 185 pounds when field dressed. Its G2 and G3 tines measured 10 and 9 3/4, respectively.
The impressive buck is currently getting mounted at S & S Taxidermy in Springville. Austin intends to submit his trophy to the New York State Big Buck Club, and possibly enter it in some big buck competitions around the region.
He believes that rainy Sunday morning isn’t the first time he saw the buck.
“I have a trail cam picture of him two years ago, but I hadn’t seen him since then,” he said. “We had no idea he was on the property, and I have two trail cams up for three months out of the season.
Page 2 of 2 - “He got thicker and longer tines. He was a 10-point two years ago when I got a trail cam picture of him, but he just got a lot bigger tines-wise and stuff like that. I’ve been hunting him for two years now, since I got that trail cam pic.”
While the buck was a veteran of multiple hunting seasons, Austin credits deer management practices on the family property that avoid the of harvesting smaller bucks with some of his success.
Felling such a massive buck might have been the highlight of the day, but that was just the start of the birthday celebration. Although they got a late start, the Austin family arrived in Buffalo in plenty of time to watch EJ?Manuel and the Bills rout the Jets, 37-14.
It all added up to a 19th birthday Elliott won’t soon forget.
“It was probably the most perfect day ever, to be honest.”