Despite 90-degree temperatures, this bowhunter persevered to drop a beautiful New Jersey 8-pointer.
Most trophy bucks of this caliber don't come easy. It's not usually as simple as being at the right place at the right time. Good deer hunters harvest big bucks after a lot of patience and attention to detail.
Dominic Bolognese, a 30-year-old police officer from Freehold, New Jersey, is one of those hunters. His father took him hunting when he was only 4 years old, and he's been dedicated to mastering his craft ever since.
While he's had countless unforgettable deer hunting experiences, including a personal-best, 161-6/8-inch bruiser he took with a bow, this hunt was particularly special. While this buck wasn't quite as big, Bolognese can't help but admire the effort required to take the deer he'd ultimately name "Dutch."
In mid-August, Bolognese had 41 different trail cameras set up around the property and one extra in his truck. He was about to drive to his next spot when he happened to scroll through his trail camera photos from 2015 and found a photo that caught him by surprise. It was a beautiful 8-point buck he had completely forgotten about.
Without any hesitation, he grabbed his trail camera, 50 pounds of corn and a bottle of corn spray. He went right back to where the photo was originally taken, hoping a shot in the dark might pay off.
Three days later, he revisited the camera, pulled the SD card and kept his expectations in check. He began uploading the images to his computer when Dutch unbelievably made another appearance.
"The very first picture was astounding," Bolognese said. "My jaw dropped and sweat began to run down my face as I sat there, unable to click forward to the next pictures."
As the days went on, he would continue to spot Dutch in photos captured later in the evening, leading him to believe his buck was nocturnal. So, he planned to make him uncomfortable to shake things up.
"My goal was to push him off the bait in the middle of the night and change his eating pattern and it worked," he said. "I then started capturing photos of Dutch from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. everyday!"
- My Biggest New Jersey 8pt! #controlFreak#ozonicshunting#combo! - @primos_hunting -Control Freak @ozonicshunting -HR200 @ameristephunting @wildgameinnovations - Let's just say sitting in a @ameristephunting ground blind with 90 degree weather was a BLAST! No not really. But when you want something so bad, you'll have to just suck it up and push through. With that being said, all the hard work paid off and I couldn't be more happy. A hunt I will never forget.
Bolognese dropped a doe on opening day of archery season, but only had one deer on his mind. He would spend days sitting in a ground blind while it was 90 degrees outside, seeing just about every other deer from his trail camera photos, but not Dutch.
The next week, his girlfriend dropped him off in walking distance from his ground blind and drove off.
"Three does at street corner headed your way," she said in a text. "Good luck and I love you."
He headed out to his blind and got comfortable, waiting patiently for the sun to come up.
By 8 a.m., the sun completely exposed the woods around him, but there was still no sign of Dutch. He then reached down to take a bite of his protein bar, and as he looked up, he saw a familiar face.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," he said. "My heart was beating out of my chest and it seemed like the chirping birds went to a dead silence. It was on."
As Dutch inched closer to the bait, a yearling appeared, capturing his attention. Bolognese grabbed his bow and began to draw it back. At full draw, he was able to place his 20-yard pin behind the shoulder and release.
Emotion flooded his body as he saw his arrow connect, and he immediately started making phone calls. Realizing his shot was possibly a little low, he called his friend, Bill, who was on his way to work. Bill, who was dressed in suit and tie, told his boss he got a flat tire, but really showed up to help Bolognese track.
"When he pulled up and stepped out of his BMW in a suit to track a deer with me, I knew I had one heck of a friend," Bolognese said.
It had been roughly two hours since he took his shot, but 15 yards from the bait pile, he saw his arrow covered in bubbly red blood. The two continued to follow the blood trail until they finally came up on something.
"The tears started running down my face and Bill's eyes lit up as he looked passed me, seeing Dutch," Bolognese said. "This was one of the most memorable hunts of my life. It was so hot, but I'm so happy I sucked it up. If you want something, go get it!"
If you want to participate in the #MyWideOpenSpaces contest, just post a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use our hashtag. It can be any photo that relates to hunting, fishing or the outdoors in general. Maybe it's photo of a catch from your latest fishing trip or that first spring gobbler of year. Or, maybe it's a scenic photo from a hike or a recent camping trip. We aren't picky; we love all things outdoors. We'll select one winner each week based on the quality of the photo, the trophy and even the caption.
Winners will receive some free gear, which will vary as the contest progresses. Then, we'll contact you to hear the story behind the photo, which we'll write and publish on our site!