We’ve dreamed of tagging a “hit list buck” ever since we bought Long Pond Farm in December, 2013.  Unfortunately, we had grossly underestimated the effort and patience it takes to even see a buck worth naming, let alone putting all the habitat and hunting pieces together to actually put our hands on one.  The good news is that four years went by in a blink and somehow we put enough of the puzzle together this season to have a chance at our first hit lister.
As luck would have it, we found two different sheds in the same general area during our 2016 post-season scouting.  The sheds looked like a matched pair that seemed to belong to a 2 year old buck often appearing all alone on trail camera pictures.  We took to calling him Lone Ranger due to his solitary nature and made a family bet that whoever tagged the buck would get to keep his sheds.  We made some food plot improvements in 2017 and kept our sanctuaries secure in the hopes that Lone Ranger would develop into a nice 3 year-old.
One unique aspect of Clarke County, Virginia is the two week muzzle loader season that falls during the peak of our area’s rut.  We like muzzle loader season because it gives us a little more range than archery but retains some “old school” charm.  It seems that our neighbors feel the same as we do because muzzle loader season certainly started off with a bang this year!
Fortunately, Lone Ranger showed up on some early November, 2017 pictures and we knew he was poised to rut in and around our farm.  Holding out for a chance at LR, we started passing other 3 year-old bucks.  Finally, we dedicated four straight days to hunting Lone Ranger, focusing on hunting the wind along a timbered edge adjacent to a corn-studded food plot.  In the end, with twenty minutes of light left on the last night of our four day hunt, Lone Ranger appeared out of the corn, all alone, charging across the food plot after a hot doe.  There was no mistaking his tall tines, full shoulders and focused intention.  It took two loud verbal bleats to stop him so we could avoid a swinging shot at 97 yards.  The Knight muzzleloader barked without our even realizing it and Lone Ranger kicked out, signaling a terminal hit.
We found him an hour later, no more than 30 yards from where we stopped him in the food plot.
How do you eat an elephant?  Bite by bite.  And that’s exactly how we took Long Pond Farm from the biological desert of an  old cattle grazing farm into a place where we can grow, hold and hunt hit list bucks like Lone Ranger.