"After a few seconds, he turned and faced toward me. I could see his G-2 and G-3 [antler points], and from them I could tell it was the buck I'd been after."
McCallister got his bow ready, but deliberately avoided looking directly at the deer and its impressive headgear.
"I knew if I focused on the antlers I'd get so nervous I wouldn't be able to shoot straight," he recalled.
The buck was well within the 30-yard effective range of McCallister's bow, but was angled wrong.
"He was facing toward me, and I wanted him to turn broadside. He walked within 15 yards of my stand and made a scrape. I thought about taking the shot then, but the angle was still bad. Finally, he turned broadside to go after that doe. He was 18 yards away when I took the shot. When the arrow hit, he took off like a jet."
Like any good hunter, McCallister listened carefully as the wounded whitetail charged down over the hill and out of sight.
"I thought I heard him crash, but I didn't want to take any chances," McCallister said. "So I called a buddy to tell him what I'd done and to recruit him to help me recover the deer. All he could hear me saying was, 'Oh, my gosh.' I was in bad shape."
Three-quarters of an hour later, the hunter and his friend started tracking the buck.
"It didn't leave a very good blood trail, but it was good enough for us to follow. We came to a big thicket, a place we literally had to crawl through," McCallister said. "When we came out the other side, the buck was lying there, dead."
The two men stared at the buck's antlers in amazement.
"The rack had way more mass than we thought it did. My buddy looked at me, shook his head and said, 'What have you done?'" McCallister recalled.
What he had done was to bag one of the biggest whitetails in state bow hunting history.
After deductions for a few minor asymmetries, the 10-point rack taped out at 1721/8 inches, good enough for fourth place all-time on the state's list of bow-killed bucks with typical, or symmetrical, antlers.
"He's the best one I've ever touched, that's for sure," McCallister said. "I probably won't ever get a shot at a better one, but it won't be for lack of trying."
And maybe - just maybe - that next one, if it comes, won't require four years' worth of waiting, watching and working.
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.