The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

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Sam Ubl
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The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:40 am

It began in mid-July this past summer. It was a Friday night when my mother in-law’s phone rang. We were all in the car together, my wife and I, along with her parents. My mother in-law read her caller ID and considered calling the person back, but answered anyways. The voice on the other end was that of a family friend who was looking to have a message communicated to me, but being as I was in the car the phone was handed over to me and a very excited, yet serious, voice introduced the intro to what evolved into quite the story.

The phone call I am referring to was the initial tip regarding two particular bucks that were seen in a bean field on a piece of land I am fortunate to hunt; two very large bucks I might add. The family friend, who is also a hunter, said there were six bucks in the group, but two of them stood out dramatically amongst the rest; a non-typical giant and a clean typical giant.. The news I heard over the telephone that night motivated me to stick a camera out and see if I could catch a glimpse of these two power bucks. The results spoke for themselves. What was more exciting was recognizing a shed a close friend had found while shed hunting the land this spring was the typical side of the non-typical.

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Day one of the 2014 Wisconsin archery season for whitetails found me in the stand I had pre-prepped for what I thought to be my best shot at either of these two great bucks. A friend of mine who I shared the pictures with thought of the creative nickname, “Chicken Foot”, for the big non-typical due to the flyer coming off his base, the second main beam and the crazy brow tine, and so I sat there in wait on opening afternoon for Chicken Foot or the big main frame 10-pointer to make his appearance. At 5:00 PM I was surrounded by doe and fawns mostly browsing the bean field, but soon all around me vacuuming acorns from the big white oak tree I disregarded behind me when trimming shooting lanes. You see, I had cut lanes to the field, but omitted the power of acorns. Why would a big old buck feed out in the open bean field in daylight when he can browse on acorns until dark before feeding into the field? At 5:00 PM I regretted my dismissal of such a notion when Chicken Foot and the big 10-pointer casually fed behind me inside of 30-yards without a shot.

On the third day of the season, I climbed into a Lone Wolf on the backside of the woods with shooting into the field and a couple of small lanes into the timber. I chose the spot because of the wind direction and because it would cut off the two bucks if they came in the same way as they did on opening day. As luck would have it, Chicken Foot had split from the bachelor group and fed into the field apparently right where my pre-hung set was and fed past my new set on this particular night at 80-yards. I watched him as light faded, shook my head and climbed down and backed out.

I shot a large 8-point that I couldn’t resist on day four of the season, and while searching for him the next day I found the shed of the big 10.

I now had one side of each of the two giants I was chasing and I was building up a story I had hoped would conclude with me harvesting one of, if not both of these hit-lister's. The 8-pointer I had shot was another story – feel free to watch it below:

[bbvideo=425,350]http://www.youtube.com/embed/3cKjXyd4hvU[/bbvideo]

Fast forward to October 21st, I chose to sit my pre-hung set I had sat on opening day when I first encountered Chicken Foot and the big 10. I was less than eventful all evening and I wondered where all the deer I had been seeing had gone, including the doe’s and fawns that frequented the field. I supposed that my hunting pressure probably forced them nocturnal and it sank in that things were only going to get harder from here on out. Just as time was running out for the evening sit, a large bodied buck emerged into the field. I could tell he had a large rack, but at 100-yards I wasn’t sure who it was. I reached for the dead branch extending from the tree I was in and snapped it loudly. The sound got the buck’s attention and here he came, trotting in to investigate the sound. At 40-yards I drew back as he was in the open, but after losing a buck due to a full-frontal shot earlier in the season, I waited for him to turn broadside. As I stood at full draw, it was clear it was the big 10, all 170-plus inches of him in all his glory. He continued to close the distance as he slowed to a fast walk and soon got behind the only buckthorn bush that separated my open lane. I waited as he slowed even more, now extending his head into the clearing, then soon his neck down to the front crease of his shoulder. I held steady, I only needed one more step.

We stood there motionless, the buck and I. He looked beyond me for the source of the sound and I waited for him to take that last step, but his wits got him out of trouble that night and he turned and bounded out to 60-yards when he realized something wasn’t right. I considered releasing the arrow on him quartering away at 60-yards, but I couldn’t risk the shot – I let down. That night I nicknamed the big 10, “Heartbreaker”, because he’s one good looking dude and he’s broken my heart twice this season.

On October 28th I again sat that stand and within 10-minutes Chicken Foot had entered the now cut bean field dogging a doe who must have come into heat early. Two lesser bucks tried getting her attention, but Chicken Foot’s aggressive attitude cured that problem in no time and soon they were broadside at 80-yards. A truck driving by had a clear view of the show and had pulled over to watch. I remember cussing under my breath that his presence would surely clear the field. To my disbelieve the truck pulled away and it was game on. I got my video camera settled on the buck and doe duo and tried to agitate Chicken Foot by mimicking the presence of yet another aggressor interested in his doe. I hit my grunt tube and snort wheezed at him. The video is evidence alone that I had him red hot angry, but his doe he was tending was in charge and when she walked away into a draw, he followed. That video, that encounter, would be the last time I would get to chase Chicken Foot.

Just two of dozens of images of Chicken Foot just days before...
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On October 30th, the day before Halloween, I took my Lone Wolf and got situated into a tree down in that draw where I had witnessed Chicken Foot nudge that doe two days prior. This was also the draw where Heartbreaker had emerged from the week prior. That night I saw a half-racked 2-pointer. That night would also be the night that Chicken Foot would be killed by a lucky hunter across the road, a fact I did not learn until the next day as I took up a stand on my lease, which is a different piece than where I had been hunting Chicken Foot and Heartbreaker. Well aware of the rarity of chasing two Boone and Crocket status bucks on one small parcel in southeastern Wisconsin, I have never been so careful in my approach and did not want to over-pressure the area beyond what I had already done, thus I chose a different property to hunt on Halloween.

As the sun was setting and my tree was swinging in the 40-plus MPH winds that day, I received a text message with a picture of Chicken Foot caped out, his head laying on top of his heaping cape and his massive rack completely familiar to me. My landowner of that piece texted to me that his neighbor had shot the buck the night prior in his front yard, a legal right thanks to Wisconsin State Legislative Act 71, a bill passed in 2013. It’s hard to swallow the pill of news like that, to hear a buck I had gathered dozens of trail camera images and videos of, whom I had encountered in the treestand and held off shooting opening day for ethical shot reasons, and whom I had taped from my stand 30-yards from my comfortable shooting range the two days before, had fallen to another hunter.

I visited the lucky hunter on November 2nd as he had not yet taken the buck to the taxidermist. He had the buck green scored the night he registered it, a measurement of 190-inches of bone. Parts of me found closure in the feeling of putting my hands on the massive rack, but another piece of me died as I swallowed my pride and shook the lucky hunters hand and congratulated him on taking the trophy down. I drove away knowing that Heartbreaker still lives and I still have a shot at a mega typical giant, but still I was trying to find peace in the emotional blow of recognizing another hunter for getting the job done, a job I couldn’t get done myself.

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I received some pictures the last two days from a friend who knew I was after Chicken Foot. Her message was written in bold, “ISN’T THIS CHICKEN FOOT!!!???”. It surely was him. Apparently a friend of a friend lives in the rural neighborhood nearby to where I hunt and captured these pictures from inside their house.

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The hunt for Heartbreaker continues... He was 3-feet from getting hit on the highway yesterday morning trailing a doe, so hopefully he makes it.


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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby xpauliber » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:12 am

Great read and journey! Good luck getting on Heartbreaker....man, those are some giants!

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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Jackson Marsh » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:16 am

What a stud!


Good luck on Heartbrear!

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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby U.P. bownut » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:36 am

Good luck getting Heartbreaker! Those are some beautiful bucks. What a blessing to be able to hunt some bucks like that.
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Beartown18 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:26 am

Appropriate names, but I would almost name them Heartbreaker 1 and 2. Good luck on Heartbreaker.
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Sam Ubl
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:23 am

You're right about that. It's a funny feeling for me. I have had target bucks killed by neighbors, but this one was different. I would spend summer evening covered in beans against the distant fence line watching him through my spotting glass, learning his personality, studying his habits and obsessing at his monarch status. Heartbreaker is a giant, no question, but I really love the freaks. Still, my motivation has shifted some and Heartbreaker has my sights locked on him. Time will tell. I still have a weird lump in my throat about Chicken Foot. I really believed I would get him...

That emotional attachment to any one given buck isn't a good plan, I knew it before and now I know it even more.

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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby wibowhntr » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:15 am

Thanks for sharing...cool story of two awesome bucks!
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Bigburner » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:11 pm

That's a pig!
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby phishy » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:30 pm

Sweet !!!

congrats!
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby MN Legacy » Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:33 pm

Definetly some big bucks!!!
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby Esweens » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:40 pm

I absolutely love stories like this no matter if it ends in success or failure. That is what hunting is all about, the endless chase! thanks for sharing this great story and good luck with heartbreaker!
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Re: The Saga of Heartbreaker and Chicken Foot

Unread postby JoeRE » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:10 am

Great story Sam, it took me back to a couple giants I chased and lost to other hunters. What a giant. Glad you have another one to stay focused on!


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