All hunters know that no matter how much they know about the game they are pursuing, how well they know their rifle or bow and how it shoots, how long they practice or how prepared they are for the hunt – there is always one factor that they cannot control – that is the mysterious element called luck. This story is one in which luck played a big part – more than once.
Barry, his son Jim, Steve, Ron and Kay were hunting mule deer in Wyoming. It was mid-October and there had been some snow that year that didn’t always occur at this time of the season. Because of the snow, they weren’t able to get up into the higher country that they had planned on hunting, but they had another area that they liked too, so that’s where they went.
Barry had a bad back and Jim wasn’t real good at walking very far, so they were going to stake out a canyon while the other three made a push through it. The two men walked from their truck through a draw, up a big hill and sat down about 150 yards apart with Jim facing the canyon and Barry watching off to the other side of the hill.
The push proceeded without incident – in fact, it was too quiet, as no deer were pushed out at all. Barry and Steve had been in touch by radio, and it was agreed that the two would go back to the truck and wait for the other three. They had to walk back through the draw and over another hill to get to the vehicle, and Barry had to stop every once in a while to bend over and stretch the muscles in his back. They made it down the draw and up the other side when Barry said, “I can’t go any further until I give my back a rest.” So they sat down. Barry laid his rifle on the ground, stretched his legs out and reached out to grab his ankles with his head down by his knees to really stretch his back muscles.
Looking at the top of the hill from tthe bottom of the draw.
He was in this position when suddenly Jim said, “A buck! A buck! There goes a buck!” Looking up, Barry saw a nice buck with a sizeable rack heading up over the top of the draw. Apparently it had been bedded down there and was finally spooked into jumping when the men stopped and sat down. At this time it was only about 80 yards away.
Barry grabbed his rifle, found the deer in his scope and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened! He suddenly realized that he had never put a bullet in the chamber upon leaving the truck in the morning. He had been sitting there the whole time with an empty chamber! Meanwhile, in his excitement, Jim had picked up his rifle and instead of shooting, had worked the bolt and jacked a shell out onto the ground! So far, our hunters are not doing too well!
Barry figured out what his problem was and put a round in the chamber. By now the deer was about 100 yards away. He fired, but his shot had no apparent effect on the retreating buck. Jim also fired, then Barry fired again. Steve was watching all this through his binoculars from a distance and called to the two men on his radio. “I didn’t see any sign of a hit, guys. I think that one got away.” Barry agreed, but he said that he was going to walk up to where they last saw the deer just to make sure.
He walked up the hill to the place of the last sighting looking for any sign of a hit. Finding none on the rocky ground, he continued on to the mahogany, which still had some snow around them because of the shade they had provided from the sun. He located the tracks of the deer, and as he followed them he saw very small flecks of blood here and there. “Hey Steve, I’ve got some blood here! It’s not much, but it’s blood”, Barry reported on the radio. He continued to follow the tracks through the mahogany until they ran out of the shrubbery and back down into the rocky ground of canyon.
He stood there looking down into the canyon, when suddenly Jim said, “Look, there he is on the other side of the canyon!” Barry immediately sat down and rested his Weatherby Mark V chambered in .270 Weatherby Magnum on the big buck that was standing broadside ¾ of the way up the other side of the canyon. At the sound of the shot, the buck dropped straight down.
Remember what I said at the beginning about luck? Well, lets think about some of the things that happened in the taking of this deer. First, there was the fact that the two men had stopped to sit down to rest that made the buck jump up from his hiding spot. If they hadn’t stopped, he probably would have remained hidden. Then there was the fact that after crossing all the way down the canyon and up the other side, the deer stopped to watch his pursuers. He might just as well have gone over the top and gotten clean away.
But what about the blood trail they were following? Well, that was pretty lucky, too. You see, those small flecks of blood on the snow wouldn’t have been visible down in the canyon, and the deer would not have lain down anywhere because of his wound, either. You see, that blood came from a small bullet hole in his ear! It wasn’t enough to even slow him down, just enough so that Barry followed it through the mahogany so he could see where the deer stopped on the other side of the canyon.
The next time you go hunting, don’t forget to take a little luck along with you!