MARYLAND HUNTING QUARTERLY MAGAZINE! Something for every kind of hunter!
This buck was named Crab Claw because of a small fork on the right side antler at the end of his main beam. This Maryland buck got my attention from my 2014 trail camera pictures in November when I aged him as a 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 year old buck. I did see him chasing a doe from the stand the first weekend in November 2014. As he chased the doe, two yearling bucks joined him in the chase. The show lasted over an hour as he fended off the yearlings while keeping up with that hot doe. I did not get any daytime trail camera pictures and that was the only time I saw him from the stand.

While shed hunting in March 2015 yielded other bucks sheds, none from Crab Claw. During August of 2015 I was getting daytime velvet pictures of him but was not sure it was him because he didn't have brow tines. I started thinking that there may be two different bucks.
Early in September, 2015, he just disappeared with no trail camera pictures from several different areas on the property. I started wondering if I had created too much pressure or had neighbors shot him or possibly he was hit by a vehicle? I was hunting other properties to lessen pressure, but not being there I wasn't sure if others were trespassing. Regardless, he disappeared.

In 2016, he showed up in August in velvet with brow tines then disappeared from this area. Just before early Muzzleloader season (3rd week of October, 2016) while talking with neighbors he was seen on their property from trail cameras but only at night. I felt for sure that when they started hunting early Muzzleloader season, the pressure would bring him back in my area. That just didn't happen.

With November only a week away and vacation time penciled in, it was time to get creative knowing I would be able to stay in the stand all day in the middle of the week and not just on Saturdays. The next rainy Sunday, midday I went to the area of the farm where I thought Crab Claw was spending most of his time. Signs looked good with rubs and scrapes. I located a tree where the wind would be good, cleared some shooting lanes and was close to known bedding area for doe and Crab Claw.

November came and with it, my first full week to hunt. Time to put it all together. Wind were calm, temperatures were cold and I couldn't ask for a better day. While walking to the stand, I could hear deer running all over the farm. As I settled in the stand two hours before light, grunting sounds were coming from just over the edge of the draw in the thicket. When it was light enough to see clearly, a 2-1/2 year old 8 point buck was tearing up the woods chasing a hot doe around. After an hour or so he chased her over the hill and out of sight and the wood became quiet. Around 11 am, I heard a deer walking in the leaves and slowly turning to look, it was an old doe and she walked right under me and didn't stop but kept walking down into the thicket. I kept an eye on her back trail and about an hour later antlers appeared over the ridge. YEP, it was Crab Claw trailing that doe and he was going to go right under me if he didn't see me or hear my heart beating. He came by me at a slow trot then turned slightly to the left, giving me a quartering away 16 yard shot and stopped. After releasing the arrow from my Hoyt Spider, he turned back to the right hard but the shot looked good. As he bolted over the ridge, I listened for the crash but didn't hear anything. With him running over the edge of the ridge and into the bottom, the sound may not have reached me. While calming down and glassing the shot area, I didn't see the arrow but spotted hair and what looked like blood, I'm still feeling good about the shot. After 2 hours, I had to look for that arrow. After finding the arrow only 7 or 8 yards in the direction which he had turned and ran, I started to be concerned as there was not much blood on arrow but mostly hair and fat. I did find some blood on the leaves and after trailing the blood for about 80 yards, I marked the spot and backed out. The next day I hunted the same stand and after my morning hunt, picked up the trail again but soon lost the blood. I searched the rest of the day and didn't find him. I was sick thinking I had wounded him and did not make a good shot.

November 22, 2016, he showed back up on my trail camera pictures. He was limping (video clip from camera) and was back on this side of the farm. He showed up through December at night time only. He made it through the hunting season and the winter.

In March 2017, he showed up with the scar from my arrow still visible. Video clips showed he must have also been hurt on the right side after my arrow had injured him. He was limping and favoring his right shoulder and leg. He recovered well throughout the summer, then he disappeared until mid-October when trail camera pics revealed he was returning to a bottom section of the farm to bed before light and staying until well after dark except for one evening. He suddenly appeared behind me, on the move. I quickly turned around in my stand and drew back, only to have the release prematurely let go, sending the arrow into a nearby branch.
With knowing where he was bedding most of the time, on a rainy Sunday the last weekend of October around midday, I placed a stand in the thickly covered creek bottom. On an early November day with the wind right, I snuck into the stand two hours before light. Just before getting light enough to see clearly, a large shadow appeared along the edge then disappeared into the darkness. A button buck bedded under my stand and mid-morning, a yearling buck passed through. Spending all morning classing every flicker, squirrel and bird in the bottom then Crab Claw stands up just 35 yards away, not spooked as he moves away not giving me a shot. My vacation time was spent seeing him from afar and not close enough to get a good shot.

On the first day of Maryland's 2017 firearm season while driving into the farm, Crab Claw was tending a doe along the edge of the county road where I park. I kept driving by until they walked off into the farm. I circled around to get to a stand but never saw him.
During the Late Muzzleloader season in December 2017, on the last day, I took my Hoyt Bow and Knight muzzleloader just in case he show up too far for my bow. Also if possibly one of the older does on the hit list showed. He did show at about 150+ yards but was walking away at last light. I didn't feel good about the shot so just watched as he walked out of sight. A week later, I found his right side shed right where I saw him that last day of Muzzleloader.

Now in 2018, like years past, I got early trail pictures in March then he disappeared.
In September during the first archery weekend, from one of my five stands, I watched five mature bucks scrape their velvet as a group off each other, with Crab Claw still in velvet watching the others from 80+ yards away as I was watching from the opposite direction.
In October 2018, he showed up at night time all over the property on my trail cameras. This year I changed my strategy by not hunting in the mornings, just the evenings in November other when I stayed in all day getting in the stand 1-1/2 to 2 hours before light. I did see him circling a few times well out of range. It seemed like he knew when and which stand I would be in. I did get a video clips of him entering the field with my truck in the back ground as he went in the opposite direction from where I was. For sure he was moving around a lot but mostly at night however sometimes he would show up at last light staying all out of range.
The week of Thanksgiving, I could only hunt that Thursday all day and from noon to dark on Friday. The firearm season started the following Saturday and with that added hunting pressure, would surely make him go completely nocturnal.

The Friday afternoon hunt started very slow with no deer moving until about an hour and half before sunset. One of the old mature does with her fawns came in headed towards the corner of the field. This old girl has picked me out and has spooked many times over the past years and she is on my hit list to harvest. Acting nervous, she circled wide, then stopped as the fawns went by. On another trail between my stands, 80 yards away, Crab Claw came walking by heading away from me. He saw the old doe and started to make a wide circle as she stopped right under me. He stopped every few steps as he headed towards me and I was thinking this old doe was going to spook and blow up another opportunity for me. She walked out into the field and started eating. Crab Claw circled in up wind and stopped at 18 yards. When he looked back over his back trail I came to full draw and watched the luma-nock go in just behind his shoulder. He ran about 60 yards and stopped and I grabbed my binoculars and watched him, expecting him to drop right there. He stood for a good 5 minutes but it felt like an hour. He took a few steps then made a hard turn and bolted out of sight. I went from shaking all over to my heart up in my throat, surely he would be laying there, just out of sight. With nearly 30 minutes left before dark, I started to glass the arrow impact spot and trail away looking for my arrow and signs of blood. I didn't see the lighted Luma-nock or arrow and the leaves were scuffed up but no other signs from the stand. I eased out of the tree stand and went to my truck, removed my hunting gear, gathered up my flash light as its dark now and headed back in. When I got back to the spot where I had shot, I could see the neighboring hunter's flashlight walking away but not close to where I had last seen Crab Claw. I went right to where he had been standing before the shot. That's what I was hoping to find, a large puddle of blood and blood trail. I followed the trail until it got thin and marked the spot, thinking that Crab Claw may have seen or picked up the scent from the other hunter. I backed out thinking that he had to be close by.

I didn't get a lot of sleep that night and before daylight the following day which was the opening day of gun season, I was in the stand closest to the marked trail where I shot Crab Claw the evening before. With the woods coming alive at daylight, I glassed for more signs and neighboring hunters. As I saw no other hunters by 8 am, I was down from my stand and searching. It started raining about 10 am and I was zig zagging every section by section with still no sign. I just couldn't come up with a good reason why I wasn't able to locate him. When the rain turned heavy, I gave up for the day. As I was walking out, I back trailed from the puddle of blood to where I had made the initial shot. I did find the broad head with ¾ of the arrow shaft. The top ¼ of the arrow and luma-nock were nowhere to be found. After another sleepless night I was back at first light as this county does not allow Sunday hunting so I had the woods to myself. I was having grave concerns that I may not find him. I picked up where I had stopped the day before and started zig-zagging the area which included a large creek and a thick flat area on each side. After a couple hours of searching and glassing the steep slopes up the opposite side of the creek, I decided to walk down the creek and after only walking about 60 yards, there he was! He must have fallen into the creek and floated down a ways.

After dragging him up on the bank and started to field dress him, I was thrilled to have found him and also that the meat was still good due to the cold weather. The top ¼ of the arrow was still inside of his chest with the luma-nock still lit. It took my ATV and a couple hundred feet of rope to get him up the steep slope from the creek bottom and loaded up. From the last blood trail sign, he had traveled more than 400+ yards. I was still trying to figure out why he went so far. I really think he had seen or caught the scent of the neighboring hunter as he was down wind when he turned and bolted. Did the remaining part of the arrow keep the lungs from deflating?

Crab Claw field dressed weight was 187 lbs. and he had hardly any body fat. I would guess that his live weight before his rutting vigor's would have been near 250+ lbs. I have aged the jaw bone at 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 years old but to be sure, I'm sending an incisor tooth to the Forensic Lab for age testing. What he scores really doesn't matter to me.

In closing, the over view of the property that I harvested him on is agricultural, edged by residential and public land. I have been managing this property for many years by harvesting mature does as needed and only targeting 3-1/2 year old and older bucks. Keeping the resident herd in order has allowed me to harvest older bucks annually and not just targeting one buck. Bow hunting in this manner is more challenging and very rewarding before and after the harvest. Of the 4 bucks that was on this year's hit list, two are still there upcoming bucks will be added next year. Top of the list will most likely be "Boss Buck". He does have a crab like claw on his right side antler also.

Smart Hunters pass the young bucks and target older does and manage the deer for the future seasons. Older bucks and doe enhance the challenge and experience of the hunt no matter what the antler score is and results in truly a trophy in my eyes.
The National Deer Association is the leading conservation organization dedicated to conserving North America’s favorite game animal.

We are hunters from all walks of life who share a passion for wild deer. We believe it is our responsibility to ensure the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat and hunting. As the authority on all things deer, we blend the art of hunting with the science of management to create better deer and better deer hunting.

The National Deer Association
- United for Deer -
The Buck Named Crab Claw
By E.W. Grimes, Director MD State Chapter NDA
The National Deer Association Becomes a Unified Organization for Deer Conservation.

The National Deer Association (NDA) has finalized a name, mission, leadership team and strategic vision for promoting wise stewardship of North America’s most iconic and important wild game animal. Forged from the combined strengths of two successful organizations, the Quality Deer Management Association and the National Deer Alliance, the new non-profit National Deer Association is adapted to work more effectively for deer and hunters in the altered landscape of wildlife conservation.

Combined Strengths, New Focus;
The unified National Deer Association has a combined 38 years of action that has shaped deer conservation and changed the way deer are managed. Each contributor to the new Association brings members, volunteers, corporate sponsors, state and federal agency partners, and many more resources to lead the charge. New challenges call for adaptation, engagement with new demographics, and a fresh approach to protect deer, hunters and the hunting industry.