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Alday’s ‘Sunday Buck’ is #9 overall

Brandon Alday first saw what became known as the “Sunday Buck” more than two years ago (during the 2008-09 season) when his dad sent him an email after checking their trail camera photos taken on Brandon’s grandparent’s property in Jackson County, Florida.

From the moment his dad’s email announced, “We got a good 10-point,” Brandon said, “The chase was on!”

However, while attempting to pattern the big buck, it apparently patterned them. The first photo was taken late in the season – on a Sunday – and for the next year and a half nearly every photo of the beast was snapped on a Sunday.

According to Brandon, that was the one day his grandfather never hunted. “Papa never hunted on Sunday...so we didn’t either,” Brandon explained. “So we gave him the name ‘Sunday’.”

Fittingly, it was a Saturday (Oct. 23) – opening day of the 2010 archery season in Zone D – when Brandon got a shot at the #2 non-typical and #9 buck overall taken last season.

Here is Brandon’s story, in his own words: “First off, I would have never been able to kill my ‘buck of a lifetime’ if it wasn’t for my wife. When I got a trail cam picture of him, I set my heart on it and went after him full bore. She never once lit into me about the time and effort I put into trying to get him.

“My first live encounter with ‘Sunday’ came around 11 a.m. on opening day of archery season when he came walking in with a bachelor group. He got to within 60-70 yards, turned up his nose and bounced off. I have no idea how he busted me. I had a favorable wind and everything. I got more pictures of him that season, but never saw him again.

“The next summer I was bush-hogging around the property in an area where Sunday had been photographed. I wasn’t looking for sheds, just riding the tractor thinking about nothing when I looked down and saw an antler. At first sight I knew who it belonged to.

“I didn’t have much hope, but couldn’t help but search in the area for his other side. Thirty yards away, in plain sight, there it was! To be honest, finding those sheds was a trophy for me.

“That summer my wife tested positive for the BRCAII gene, giving her an 80% chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Both of her sisters had breast cancer in their 30s, and we had a couple scares with irregular mammograms. Instead of waiting on the cancer, we decided to be proactive and have double mastectomies, a hysterectomy and breast reconstruction.

“All of this put my quest for Sunday on the back burner. But, Julie had other plans. She scheduled her surgeries so she would be recovered enough for me to hunt him in the fall. She did it on her own – not because I asked her to. What a wife!” Brandon said.

“In the weeks leading up to opening weekend of bow season, I had Sunday somewhat pin-pointed in the same location he busted me the previous season. It was a dry pond bottom with dog fennels about chest high. I wanted to sit that stand opening morning, but the wind was blowing in the direction I thought he’d be coming from. It took all I had in me not to go to that stand that morning.

“But, that afternoon, the wind shifted in my favor. Trail cameras had showed a 4-point coming through before Sunday each time. With about 15 minutes of light left, here came the 4-point! Buck pneumonia hit me! Buck fever couldn’t compare to what I was feeling!

“I knew Sunday was close. Sure enough, he came walking through the dog fennels, and I could feel my heart in my eyeballs,” Brandon recalled.

“He walked to within 20 yards of me and looked back into the pond bottom at some other deer working the area. That’s when I drew. I don’t remember aiming or releasing. Just hearing a “thwack” and watching him mule kick.

“After the shot I was shaking like crazy. It took me several minutes to calm down enough to call someone and tell them what I had happened. I couldn’t find any blood when I got down, so I backed out and went to my grandparent’s house to call everyone I knew.

“I had friends driving in for over an hour to come help with the recovery. Between my dad, uncle, cousins and some friends, we had about 8-9 people with flashlights. No blood was found at the location where I shot him. I felt nauseous, to put it mildly.

“It was a quartering shot, and there wasn’t much blood until the arrow came out about 20 yards before he fell. My uncle (the family tracker) told me to go where I thought the deer had run. With my 4-year-old son on my shoulders, we took off in that direction. We got about 60 yards, and there he was!

“I started screaming like a little girl – scaring my son half to death. He about strangled me with his legs around my neck. I can’t describe the feeling of putting my hands on his horns.

His was a true buck of a lifetime!