Reading another story here had given me the urge to share my own simple tale as well. I was lucky enough to have had a very nice area of about 150 acres here in north central Tennessee to hunt as often and as much as I wanted, undisturbed by other hunters, except those I brought with me. This area held a good number of deer and deer sightings were numerous, but not a lot of big bucks were normally seen.
Somewhere around the 4th or 5th year hunting there I happened to be walking back to my camper that stayed out there much of the fall and as I rounded a slight bend I saw a decent buck just emerging from the woods from the right onto the trail at the very same instant. He was perhaps 35 yds away.
I immediately froze and he seemed as if he'd seen me at the same instant I'd seen him. We stared for a few seconds and then he broke us both out of our trances, by making a 180* turn and bolting back into the woods and down the nearby hill all in one swift motion. Before I could even think about raising my ML to try a shot, he was gone. The type of sighting that makes us wonder if we really did see "that".
Anyway a few days later a Buddy hunting with me relates a similar story, same area, same circumstance as mine. He'd known my tale, but his luck was just the same as mine at the moment of his sighting. Best I can recall, we never did see him again that season.
Forward another year and I was in my stand on the ML opener in early November. I saw movement then picked out the image of a nice buck slinking towards and by me from left to right. I remained calm and patient and as he stepped out from behind a good sized cedar tree I grunted him to a complete stop. I settled the crosshairs just behind that right shoulder, squeezed the trigger and listened as my ML went off. Well, went off partly as only the cap fired, not the powder.
Plenty enough noise, of course, to get Mr 8 pnt departing the AO pronto-like. I already knew he was the same buck I'd eased up on the year before not 150 yds away as a slightly smaller (then) 2 1/2 yr old 8 pnt. Of that, I was positive. He'd fooled me good two times now and as with the previous season, not another sighting for the rest of the season.
The next season rolls around and we're now into rifle season and I'm hunting with my son in law to be, Mike. I set him up in a prime spot and I decide to sit in a stand that happened to be just across the trail from my very first encounter with Mr Sly8. The morning was cold and crisp and I'd seen a few does pass by, but no sign of any bucks. I heard a slight rustle to my left and turned to see a nice sized buck trying to sneak down the slight hill I was sitting atop.
He didn't seem to have a clue I was there and I slowly raised my rifle and took aim from my position on the ground there. He was shielded by thick brush and when he eased into a small crease, I tickled the trigger on my M77 RSI in .308. The rifle roared, he jumped and surprisingly headed down the hillside. Within just a jump or two he was out of sight in the thick cover, but within another second or two, I heard him crash hard.
It only took me a few minutes to find him, he'd actually run right into a good sized tree and I was lucky he hadn't broken his rack. Pretty nice buck and I grinned knowing I'd finally gotten Mr Sly8, now, more than likely a 4 1/2 yr old buck. His rack was as symetrical as any deer I'd ever seen and to this day, although I've shot lots of deer with bigger racks, he is simply the prettiest to my eye that hangs on my wall.
A little side note here. Mike helped me get a few pictures and then drag him out. Mike had still not taken a deer yet, but was, of course, excited for me. I kept on him to continue to hunt with me and just two days later Mike shot a very nice 8 pnt as well from the stand I'd set up for him. His very first deer!
Now, the rest of the story. Mike and I both shot our deer in December 2002. I feel confident that both those bucks were fairly dominant in that area and my buck was a bit bigger than Mike's. In 2006 I was enjoying a pretty good year. I'd taken a nice Kentucky 8 pnt on the ML opener in mid October and also a nice wide Tennessee 8 pnt with rifle while hunting with both sons in law one warm December afternoon.
To say I was satisfied would be an understatement, but I still held a couple of Tennessee buck tags and we had a late ML season coming up. I managed to leave work early one late December afternoon and sat my butt next to a big oak tree in an area I always seemed to see deer in. I'm not sure if I'd been there even an hour when a deer began heading my way walking out of the thick brush about 75 yds away.
A very decent rack buck who also was kind enough to approach and walk slowly enough so I might get a good point count. No, we have no antler restrictions in Tn and As far as I was concerned hunters could shoot whatever deer they wanted to on this piece of ground, but since I did most of the hunting here, I had stopped taking any deer under 8 pnts the last few years. Yup, he was a nicely shaped 8 pnt, I could easily see that.
He stepped behind a tree, I got the Optima up and ready and when he was in the clear, I grunted him to a stop. The ML did go off as had been the case the last several deer (LOL) and he ran perhaps 45 yds before piling up. I had to drag and load him by myself, but was able to get it done.
Now, I simply kept that set of antlers in my garage in a large crate with perhaps 20 other sets for a few years. Then I pulled the crate out sorted through them and pulled out a couple sets to give away and this set to perhaps display in the den as they were actually very symetrical and well shaped. After I cleaned them up and set them in the den, it finally occured to me that this buck was a dead ringer for the 2002 buck. I mean an exact, but slightly smaller perfect replica.
I sat down and pondered for a few minutes; 2002 breeding season drops a fawn in May 2003. In 2006 he is now 3 1/2 yrs old during hunting season. My mind's eye went back to my ML misfire and that supposed 3 1/2 yr old 8 pnt in 2001. Yup, there's no doubt in my mind that this newer rack belonged to Mr Sly8 Jr. who was conceived in November 2002 and fell to my ML in 2006 (the same one I missed his dad Mr Sly8 Sr with because of a misfire) Of course they both now hold a special place in my den among the several other heads and racks there. They are, no doubt whatsoever in my mind, father & son who were harvested about 450 yds and 4 hunting seasons apart.