When thinking about states the states that are most likely to produce trophy whitetails, most big buck hunters think of the usual. Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and so on, are generally the states at the top of the list. I would suggest, that nine times out of ten, Washington State would never make the conversation. Not until now that is. Planet Whitetail is excited to bring your this action from the left coast! We here at Planet Whitetail have had the privilege to get to know Matt Mimnaugh, a die hard bow hunter with a passion for big mature bucks! If Matt were to live anywhere but his home state of Washington, he’d live on Planet Whitetail!
Let’s rewind, to late season 2009, during the cold Washington Winter. Matt Mimnaugh was perched high up a tree, hopeful for a bit of last minute luck to round out his deer season. To Matt’s utter surprise, he did see a great buck on this evening. Matt elected to pass the buck, and as the mature deer vanished into the thick brush at forty yards, Matt’s heart sank as he realized the potential mistake he had made. This ended up being Matt’s last hunt of the 09 season, as his work duties called and he would have to wait for another day to chase his mystery buck.
During the 2010 season, Matt hunted several good areas near his home and after hunting hard all season, had not be able to get a crack at the buck from 2009. Matt did however; fill his tag during the late archery season with a great Washington state whitetail. Although he was not able to place tabs on the big mature buck in 2010, Matt had a gut feeling that the buck still called the area home.
Matt's 2010 Archery Buck.
At the onset of the 2011 season, Matt decide to focus all of his attention on hunting the big buck that haunted his dreams for nearly two years. Setting up trail cameras, scouting on a regular basis and placing several well positioned tree stands were all part of Matt’s plan. Matt hunted hard for much of the season, with no luck. That is, until that fateful day, when he decided to check a trail camera in the area where he expected the big buck was living. Wouldn’t you know it! The hammer whitetail was still alive, and he was big, really big! The buck had stayed in the area and blew up into a real trophy buck!
With the Washington rut in full swing, Matt decided to hunt the buck hard. After three long days of sitting on stand, Matt’s luck seemed to be looking up. As he sat and did his best to fight off the cold, a doe emerged from a thick tangle of brush just forty yards away. As the alert doe sprung from cover, so did the buck that Matt had been after. Only problem was, that this buck had one thing on his mind! I think we all know what that was. The chase was on, and all Matt could do, was listen as the deer crashed through the thick brush, crunching through the snow and grunting as he followed the doe on a zig zag pattern. Close, but no cigar!
The following day was Thanksgiving and had Matt spending his time away from the deer woods with his family. As Matt enjoyed his time relaxing and over eating, his thoughts naturally turned to the giant buck. His plan on Saturday was to return to the same stand where he had seen the buck the three days prior. The day started out, filled with action. Matt felt as if he had seen every deer in the area, but still no shooter. As the deer would come down the trail, nearing Matt’s opening, his heart would race, only to be let down when the buck hadn’t shown.
At about 8:30AM, Matt heard the unmistakable sound of deer walking in his direction as they crunched through the hard icy snow. The first deer to enter the opening was a very alert doe, followed by her fawn. The mature doe was acting a big skittish. She kept peering back into the thick brush. Matt decided to ready his bow, as his blood pressure began to rise. It was clear that another deer was quickly approaching the opening near Matt’s stand. As the deer drew closer, Matt realized it was him; it was the buck he was after! Wouldn’t you know it, instead of doing what Matt was praying he would do, the big buck did the exact opposite. The buck didn’t walk directly to the doe and offer Matt a perfect twenty yard shot. The buck walked through the thick brush and made a bee line directly in the direction of Matt’s stand. Matt froze in his stand, as the giant buck walked within yards and his attention drew to the doe. As the buck passed by and under some thick brush, Matt readied his bow and came to full draw. When the buck stopped walking, he was at a perfect seventeen yards broadside. Matt took control of his breathing, centered his site pin and ever so softly touched the trigger on his release. Matt said he could feel everything, even the release letting go of the string loop. His arrow traveled with light speed as it found its mark directly behind the bucks shoulder and disappeared. At the “ Whack “ of the arrow, the buck jumped and exploded from the spot. As the buck made a quick forty yard bolt, Matt readied another arrow in his bow. He wouldn’t need it however, as the buck stood looking back over his shoulder and began to sway. Right in front of Matt, the buck started to side step and fell over on the spot. Matt had just anchored an amazing Washington State whitetail. Matt climbed down from his stand and quickly found his crimson colored arrow. There was no track job involved here and Matt walked right to his fallen trophy. As he stood over his buck, he couldn’t believe his luck as he had managed a second chance at this magnificent animal. Matt’s buck had nine scorable points on each side and tipped the scales at 165 Pope and Young Inches!
Thanks for sharing your story and your amazing buck with Planet Whitetail Matt. You are a great guy! Keep bringing the heat from the left coast and put Washington State whitetails on the map.