My 80 year old dad tagged a 10 point 184 pound buck on 11/19/2009. Dad and I have hunted the Pawtuckaway Park area in Nottingham for many, many years. Although he has helped me bag a few deer over the years and times past he tagged a doe or two, it has been quite some time since he has had the right opportunity to get a deer for himself. This year he turned 80 and I was bound and determined to help him bag one.
Although we do hunt from climbing tree stands now and again, this year we concentrated on tracking, still hunting and little two man drives through some heavy cover. Dad saw a beautiful mature doe the day before while we pushed side by side in one of our honey holes, but before he could raise his gun she disappeared into some small white pine and across the beaver dam.
"What a big beautiful, tall doe" he remarked with that boyish gleam in his eye. "I got a real good look at her and then she was gone".
Yesterday he finally got off a good shot at a fine looking buck. We began the day with our usual hunt for fresh tracks. Although we did see a little fresh sign on our way in we decided to surround a high spot just south of a scrape line where we saw a big track heading in the day before. The oak leaves were still pretty wet and the walking was nice and quiet. As I stepped over a blow down along the high ground a nice buck jumped up about 40 yards ahead and gave a deep grunt 3 times before disappearing over the hill towards Dad. I got just a flash of a nice rack as he cascaded through the whips and into the thick green stuff. Dad never saw him and by the time I hooked up with Dad we figured he was in the next county by then.
We then decided to work our way over to the area where we saw the fresh sign earlier on the way in. With me inching along the edge of the brown grass swamp and dad just inside the woods about 60 yards to my right we plugged along. As we reached the edge of our old honey hole Dad moved up into position and waited for me to quietly make my way along the brook to the beaver dam. I was then to wait while he pushed through the small area towards me with hopefully that big doe he saw a couple days earlier between us. As I made my way ever so quietly along the brook I began to pick up a track, a very big track embedded in the moss and soft sand along the bank and I thought to myself I'd better move along to my position and signal Dad before another one gets away.
I began to round the corner of a little spot where a bit of swamp juts into the woods. With my head down I suddenly heard a crash right in front of me. 15 yards ahead a huge buck with a big rack jumped up out of his bed a little towards me, disappeared behind a small group of short pine, then turned right and leaped right in the direction of the pond on the other side of this small piece of woods. I was able to get off three shots before he vanished and found out this morning my first shot landed dead center of a large pine tree about 10 feet above the ground.
Moments later I heard a single shot ring out. "A nice buck" Dad said, "Not moving very fast quartering between us trying to make his escape". Dad watched him move along behind the trees and shot through a small opening before the deer again disappeared. We tracked that deer for hours, marking the trail with tape as we went. Soon the blood began to disappear and we tracked his prints best we could and found no deer in sight. We decided to call it quits for the day as darkness was approaching.
In the morning we set out to find him and hopefully drag him out with a tag wrapped around his antlers. After a little search around the area we shot looking for clues, we began to make our way to the last sight of blood from the day before. We searched and searched, first figuring he headed toward the peninsula at the big swamp nearby, or somehow made his way down to the brook in search of some nice cold water to ease his pain. No luck. A few good tracks, but no blood and no deer. So off we went to the next section of woods on the other side of the swamp in hopes to pick up the trail. After a long search I decided to head back and hook up with Dad to see if he had picked up anything.
As I approached the corner of the swamp where we began I came up a small knoll along an old logging road. There at my feet was some blood at the top. About a six inch diameter of blood spattered where he stood and rested. This was at least 200 yards from the last spots of blood we found the day before. I yelled for Dad to come see and our search finally began to perk up. We had been looking now for a few hours and we were both beginning to tire quickly.
After picking up a good fresh track parallel to the swamp we moved along to the high ground moving ever so carefully to try and find more blood. Again we looked and looked, but to no avail. During one of my swings inland I came across a nice fresh scrape below a low hanging hemlock bow and right in the middle of an old logging road which was our way back to the truck. I made a mental note to the location and headed back up to the high ground to hook up with my hunting partner. He was dog tired and so was I.
"I think that deer is long gone" he said with pure disappointment. I reluctantly agreed and we decided to call it quits for the day and head back out of the woods. As we picked up the old logging trail to point our way home I told him all about that nice scrape in the trail. I couldn't wait to show him. We came up to the scrape and stood for a minute admiring the big hoof print in the middle. "OK, lets get out of here" he said.
We just started along the path and I happened to look to my right and there he was! A beautiful 10 point buck laying on his side dead as a doornail. That deer was 20 feet from the scrape we were admiring, and even closer to two more scrapes we were yet to find steps ahead of us. What a beauty. Puffed out neck and nice typical 10 point rack. I slapped dad on the back a few times and grabbed his hand to shake it. We stood over him in disbelief at how incredibly far he traveled before he expired just a few feet from three fresh scrapes.
Enjoy the photo of a smiling old buck grasping the antlers of his trophy old buck!