Friday, October 12, 2012

Goode hunter is talk of the town after taking 21-point buck

Ed Muse of Goode took down a 21-point trophy buck in Amherst County on the opening day of archery season.

Ed Muse of Goose took down a 21-point trophy buck in Amherst County.

Photos courtesy of Ed Muse

Ed Muse of Goose took down a 21-point trophy buck in Amherst County.

Mark Taylor Mark Taylor is outdoors editor at The Roanoke Times.

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@roanoke.com

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Mark Taylor

Outdoors coverage

The Wild Life blog

Ed Muse had big plans for this hunting season.

But not for himself.

"I was thinking this year was pretty much going to be for the kids," said Muse, a resident of Goode whose 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter both were excited about deer hunting this fall with their dad.

But a mechanical issue with his daughter's crossbow meant that Muse was alone in his treestand on the evening of Virginia's archery season opener.

And it meant that he ultimately ended up killing a 21-point buck that is the talk of the region's deer hunters, though one hunter is finding it hard to discuss.

"I'm pretty much speechless," Muse laughed.

Muse, a 41-year-old electrician who owns his own business, spent the week prior to opening day with his family at Disney World.

They got back to Goode late on the evening of Oct. 5, after a long day's drive.

Muse started hustling to get ready for the next morning's hunt, with his first priority adjusting his daughter's crossbow to have more power.

The plan backfired when one of the crossbow's limbs cracked.

His daughter, Sarah, still wanted to go out in the morning, so she sat with her dad while son Eddie hunted solo in a nearby stand.

"We didn't see anything," Muse said.

That afternoon, Muse and his son headed for a 200-acre property in Amherst County where they have permission to hunt.

A couple other hunters were already there, so they had limited areas that were open.

After making sure Eddie was settled in his stand, Muse headed off to find a hunting spot. He carried his Lone Wolf climbing stand.

"I didn't know where I was going," said Muse, a native of Baltimore who didn't start hunting until he was 19. "I just said, 'I'm going that way.'"

As Muse was walking he spotted movement.

A few does were milling around in a bottom. Muse decided to try to stalk the deer.

"The hill was so steep I thought I might be able to get into shooting range," he said. "Of course they busted me."

Muse had never hunted the low-lying area because it often had problematic swirling winds.

"I hadn't hunted it because it's impossible to hunt," he said.

But it was so late he had no choice.

"I finally got up the tree about 6:15 p.m.," Muse said.

Twenty minutes later he heard a twig snap.

"I turned around and there was that dude about 65 yards away, browsing," he said.

Muse said he has killed "a handful of bucks" in his two decades of hunting, including a couple pretty good ones.

He said he rarely gets too nervous when he sees a nice whitetail in the woods.

That changed Saturday evening when the monster buck showed up.

Muse recognized the deer.

"I had a trailcam picture of him from August," he said. "The first thing that went through my mind when I saw the picture was, 'I'll never see that buck during the season.'

"That's usually the way it happens."

But there it was.

Muse was so shaken he had to turn away.

"When I turned back, he was gone," he recalled.

But not for good.

Soon the buck reappeared, this time just 45 yards away. And it was headed toward Muse.

At 25 yards the deer turned broadside and Muse shot.

The arrow hit the deer in the chest, and the buck ran off.

"I heard him crash," Muse said.

And then he had another case of nerves.

"I got this horrible, nauseous feeling," he said. "But it was a good feeling."

Muse didn't bother giving the deer time.

"I got out of the tree immediately," said Muse, who quickly found his blood-stained arrow.

He pulled out his phone and called his brother.

"I said, 'When you see this deer it's going to make you sick,'" he said to his brother, who joined Muse and Eddie to recover the deer.

So, how about the rack's particulars?

The inside spread is a modest 16 inches, but the beams and tines are heavy, with points seeming to stick out in all directions.

Muse sheepishly admitted that he was so excited that he didn't even get a good point count. Instead, he's taking the word of a friend who said the deer has 21 scoreable points of at least an inch long.

He also admits that he was clueless about what the deer's rack might score using the Boone and Crockett club's scoring system.

"I don't know much about scoring deer because I've never killed one big enough to score," he joked.

Other friends have put a tape to the antlers to come up with a rough Boone and Crockett score of about 195 inches, which is the minimum for making Boone and Crockett's all-time record list for non-typical whitetail deer.

"Everybody says it's the buck of a lifetime," he said. "And I believe it."

And Muse, who plans to focus on hunting with his kids for the rest of the season, doesn't try to exaggerate how it came to be.

"It was a fluke," he said, matter-of-factly.

One he'll gladly accept.

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