The dictionary defines perseverance as: a steady persistence in a course of action, particularly in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.
I will challenge you to find a better example of this than Craig Chamblee.
First, we will go backwards in time, to the early 1970's...
A father cleans his gun and prepares to put it away, when the absolute unthinkable happens. We will never know, but somehow, mistakes are made; a round is left in the chamber and an accidental discharge occurs. A nine year old child hears the sharp report of the gun and rushes into the room to find his father taking his last breaths.
With this indelible image imprinted in his brain, one that Craig will admittedly never shake, we would assume that his child and eventually as a grown man, would shun firearms and channel his interests elsewhere.
Craig is a hunter and firearm lover, one who takes his firearms and accuracy very seriously.
He is also a lifelong hunter with some good bucks to his credit - at least one of which will push the 120 - 125" mark!
Time passes and we move on...
A welder by trade, Craig has worked in some perilous situations.
The accident, when it came, was sudden and swift.
A rush to get a job completed before a storm sets in, a supervisor who will not permit the time needed to fasten a safety belt, the sickening sway of a ladder and nearly fifty feet of open air between Craig and the ground.
The chance of escaping this without major injury are minimal and this accident was no exception.
The law of averages has finally caught up with our friend Craig.
It is a wonder that his life is not lost, and with three years out of work and a permanent disability in his arm (the arm works but is rated at a 27% loss of use), Craig has hit a serious bump in the road.
With all of this adversity, we all wonder if Craig will hunt again.
Wonder not long, my friends, for this is Craig Chamblee.
Gone is the bow, now... the disabilities will not permit it.
With a genuine (and well founded) fear of heights, climbing tree stands are traded in for well scouted hunting positions on the ground.
Let's join Craig now as he prepares for the 2010 deer season in Jones County, Georgia. This county is located almost directly in the center of the state and his home to less than 30,000 residents.
Craig will be hunting on his brother's land. It is just over 70 acres, almost all wooded and Craig has identified some very good areas while scouting the property. To add to the excitement, Craig's brother tells him that he saw a giant buck on the property in 2009. When the brother speaks about giant bucks, you would be well served to listen - hanging over HIS fireplace is a 200" + Booner.
Craig locates several promising areas but one keeps coming back to him; it is an area where several prominent rubs are located. After some mental debate and with several areas in his mind, Craig finally decides where the will hunt on opening day - he will set up in the area that keeps calling to him - the area with the tortured trees!
Deer season opens on the 16th and on the afternoon of the 15th, Craig, accompanied by his wife, take their brand new hub style ground blind into the area and set it up. Craig, dogged and determined, still has his right shoulder bandaged from a surgery to repair some tears and a rotator cup issue just a week prior! Oh yeah, he shoots right handed...
Arriving in the general area that Craig wants to hunt, a few different exact placement areas are bandied about and finally, they settle on a slight opening in the woods - not far at all from where a very dense thicket begins. Craig knows from experience that these denser thickets and the resultant "edge effect" are often the haunts of mature bucks and he has high hopes of intercepting one in this very area.
He is right on that accord but has no idea to what extent his hopes will ring true.
The blind is placed and is sprayed down with cover scents and scent blocker, a dove stool is positioned inside the blind and Craig peers out of the windows and makes mental notes about shooting lanes, areas to keep an eye on and tries to make sure he will be ready come daylight the next morning.
Being careful not to disturb anything, the pair make a stealthy retreat.
Six am the next morning finds Craig sitting inside the blind waiting for the first faint rays of daylight. The windows of the blind are opened in strategic locations as he settles in to wait.
The dark is gently pushed away by the westward track of the advancing sun and our hunter begins his vigil. Shadows of deep charcoal are replaced by those of simply a lighter shade of black. This process is repeated over and again, moving into the grays of dawn, until finally, the faint outlines of the trees and bushes are revealed. The night can no longer hold the earth and is banished for one more day.
The light of dawn has arrived and Craig prepares in his mind his mental checklist, ticking off each item as he starts his hunt. He reaches the rifle inspection and looks at the recently purchased Browning A-Bolt Medallion, which is chambered in a very sensible (my all time favorite caliber) 7mm-08. This is Craig's first hunt with this rifle - he has never taken a deer with it. Already mounted on a tripod, Craig checks to make sure a round is chambered, ensures now that the safety is engaged and finally turns his attention to the scope. Setting it on the lowest power, Craig takes a glance through the scope just to make sure the lenses are clean and all is well. He finds the reticle adjustment just barely out of his preferred settings and while he is correcting this, sees a squirrel move in the trees. Glancing up from the scope to take a quick look at the squirrel, Craig is stunned.
A buck - and less than 20 yards separates the deer from the blind!!
Craig can see the right side of the rack and immediately knows that this buck is a shooter. With no time to waste, the buck is moving and is literally just steps from the dense thicket edge that will surely spell his freedom!
Knowing that he must work very rapidly, Craig's train of thought is interrupted by a mental message - "let's see now, if the right side of his rack looks like this - AND - if the left side matches, this is going to be the best buck I have ever taken. I can count at least 5 points on this side, so if you add 5 and 5 together..."
"STOP IT", Craig demands of his overactive mind, "GET BACK TO THE BUSINESS AT HAND"!!
Fortunately, the rifle is already in his hands - heck, his face is already almost aligned on the scope. The deer spots the blind and stops, frozen for just a split second. Craig finds the deer in the scope, settles the reticle on the right shoulder of the deer and sets into motion a complex series of events - the end result of which is this: with only 15 yards to travel, the bullet traveling at 2800 feet per second will take less than 1/64th of a second to strike the deer.
The bullet strikes the deer nearly broadside and the resultant bone and tissue damage, which is coumpounded by the incredible hydraulic shock, instantly poverpower the massive Jones County buck. He stumbles forward just a few yards and collapses well within sight of the blind. From the time the deer was spotted til the time he hits the ground are mere seconds. The immensity of it has still not hit Craig!
Knowing that many deer have been lost to hunters that were not immediately preparted for a follow up shot, Craig keeps the rifle trained on the deer for a good five minutes while he watches for signs of life. None are seen and Craig settles back in the blind, just a little. Knowing that this is a good buck, the excitement starts to build in our 47 year old hunter. Finally, the initial excitement boils over into some good, old fashion delight and Craig can take it no longer!!!! Making sure the safety is engaged (hey, I did remember to chamber a fresh round, didn't I??), Craig does not use the rear door of the blind to exit, he climbs out of the front window of the blind, nearly falling flat on his face in the process!!!
Calming slightly now and making sure things are done correctly, Craig approaches the buck cautiously, poking him the rear to make sure his is dead. He circles around to look into the eyes of the buck and finds them opaque and lifeless. Only now does Craig allow himself a look at the rack and he is simply stunned at what he sees!!!
Buck fever finally arrives and when it does, it is almost paralyzing in its intensity. Craig is felled to his knees by the phenomenon and can only sit, shaking and staring at the buck he has just taken.
"Thank God", Craig thinks, "that I did NOT see both sides of his rack... I would have fainted"!
It will take some time to sort this all out but the final tally is this - 15 points, a rough score of 165", a non typical rack with a great drop tine and a 19 3/4" outside spread. The bases are 5 2/8" and on the side with the drop tine is 8 4/8". The rack exudes character from any angle you look at it from, of that, there is no doubt!
Still stunned, Craig goes and gets the four wheeler - and tries to drag the beast out - all the four wheeler wanted to do was to stand straight up in a wheelie! The buck later pulls the scales to 253 pounds, which is just a stud of a buck.
A tractor with a front end loader is summoned to get the deer out of the woods and the rest, as they say, is history!
As you will see below, the buck is expertly mounted and makes a stunning trophy.
Just days later - the following Sunday - Craig sees a 140" ten pointer on the same property yet no shot is taken. "If he is a 140 this year", Craig opines, "he may be a 160 next year"!
We spoke earlier about perseverance.
I beleive that we need look no further than Craig Chamblee in Jones County, Georgia to get a real life example of this aspect of the human spirit.
Way to go, Craig, we are proud of you, Brother!!