The "Four Finger" Buck

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This is not the story of a trophy buck taken on a quick and easy hunt. This is not the story of a one-time, chance encounter with a mulie buck. This is the story of a drawn out saga about a group of hunters going after the same unique mule deer... the "Four-Finger" buck.

One of my brother-in-laws, my brother and I chased this deer for 4 years. My brother-in-law was the first to discover him. None of us had hunted the area before and my brother-in-law was new to hunting. He was on a morning hike on a ridge that he had never explored in late July. He had just lowered himself down off a rock outcropping when he heard twigs snapping around the corner of the boulder. He ran to the edge just in time to see a huge and very unique buck make a break for it. That first year, the buck had a fairly normal 4 point antler on his right side. But his left antler... INSANE! He had good front forks with a kicker but his backs turned into a fan of points that looks like a four fingered hand without a thumb. Throughout the years, the bucks right side would degrade into a big fork-horn with kickers but his left side never lost that non-typical magic.

The first two years, we all tried our hands at sticking the buck with our bows. After only fleeting glimpses of the buck during those seasons, two of us decided to try and tip the odds in our favor and give it a whorl with the muzzleloaders. My brother didn't waiver and stuck with the bow. His endurance was rewarded with the closest opportunity at the Four-Finger buck that any of us were ever afforded.

After an unsuccessful morning hunt my brother decided to go on a marathon hike into new country and glass some good looking ridges. He dropped down into a creek bottom covered in willows so that he could cover ground undetected from anything bedded on the ridges that he wanted to glass. Once he found a good spot, he pulled out his spotting scope and snacks and took a load off. Thirty minutes of glassing hadn't revealed as much as a doe untill he happened to re-scope a promising looking outcropping of rimrock. Seemingly from out of nowhere, the Four-Finger buck had appeared. He was bedded about 40 yards below the rocks and had his head down and looked like he was asleep. "Sweet!", he thought, "All I'll have to do is slip up within 50 yards of this sleeping giant and let him have it." Well it wouldn't turn out to be that easy. 

By the time my brother had backtracked and climbed a nearby ridge, more than an hour had past. He was worried that the deer might have finished his nap and wandered off. He was optimistic though because he had been quiet, stayed out of sight and the wind had cooperated. He slowly made his way along the top of the plateau and located the ridge the deer was on. He wouldn't be able to get another look at him until he was right on top of the buck. He moved silently, taking half an hour to cover only 600 yards. Once he got near the rimrock, his senses were scanning full bore. He was looking for the slightest twitch of an ear and listening for any noise that might give the deer away. When he peered over the top of the rock ledge he saw antlers and ducked back down. He readied himself in case the deer got up quick and gave him a shot. He got up into a kneeling position where he could get a shot off, and the buck didn't see him. But there was a problem... this wasn't the "Four-Finger" buck. Somehow he had missed this wide 4X4 while glassing. So where was ol' Four-Finger!? My brother hadn't taken anything with his bow at that point and decided that he couldn't pass on this golden opportunity. The buck below him had no idea he was there and he started to draw his bow. Then he heard a branch break and saw movement off to his right. He glanced over and saw HIM. The "four finger" buck must have moved beds and had been lying under a giant, fallen ponderosa. The other deer followed suit and beat feet out of there. My brother was devastated. He would later describe the fiasco as a parallel to the scene in the original Jurassic Park where the Australian raptor specialist is killed while trying to hunt down the toothy theropods. "Clever girl!"

We hunted him for another two years and got great looks at him during the summers but once hunting season would roll around, he would head for the nastiest cover and not come out. He made it almost impossible to get to him without giving away your position. Last year, on a snowshoeing trip very near where my brother-in-law first spotted ol' Four Finger, I found him. But he had finally given up the ghost. But not to a hunter. No, he was far too good for that. He had died of old age. It was a sad moment. I realized that I no longer could hope for a chance at him. My dreams would no longer be haunted by him. I take solace in the fact that he spread his genes far and wide across our stomping grounds. He was a dream buck and I respect him greatly.

He was giant. He was unique. He was wise. And he taught me more about hunting than any other individual animal. For that, I am forever indebted to the "Four Fingered" buck.

Comments

WishIWasHunting's picture

That is an awesome dead head!

That is an awesome dead head!  Sorry that no one in your group was able to get him, but that is incredible that you were able to find him.  I think every hunter has the thought cross their minds about the one that got away, about its final destiny.  It is awesome that you got to see this full circle.  Thanks for sharing the story and the picture.  

CVC's picture

I love reading stories like

I love reading stories like this.  I've never had the opportunity to chase the same deer for more than one season.  The antlers are unique as is the story.  One of the great things about hunting is that we learn from each hunt and each outing in the field.  I don't think I'll ever know all I need to know but that is what makes it interesting and fun.  It is never dull and stories like yours makes off hunting days interesting too.

Thanks for taking the time to write it up.l

Critter done's picture

Cool Rack

I love your story and I also like the way you guys kept going after old "four fingers". It's always pretty neat to go hunting every year and hope to get the one you've been seeing in the years to pass. I'm sure another big old guy will show up and get all of you excited again.

Have you ever thought about mounting the rack and letting people know how smart he was.

Just Curious. 

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Pretty neat how he kept that

Pretty neat how he kept that trait in his browtine all those years.  Looke like he must have been a doozy in his prime.

Thanks for the story!

gatorfan's picture

Cool story!

Thanks for sharing!  I bet you hit that area with a new anticipation every year now just hoping that old "four-finger" had indeed not only spread his genes but, more importantly, spread the unique antler characteristics along.

Question:  Do you guys think that antler characteristics like this are spread through genes or are the actually a result of a previous injury?  Most of you have probably read some of my stories and therefore have read that we have a large percentage of forked horned bucks in our hunting area.  I believe that it is a result of the available forage and the genes that are passed along.

 

GooseHunter Jr's picture

Great read.  Glad to bring

Great read.  Glad to bring and end to the hunt even though not the result you were looking for.  Always hate to see a great animal go like that but  that is nature for ya.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Awesome story. I guess some

Awesome story. I guess some deer just weren't meant to be killed. I'm sure there are more giants out there than the giants that are never even seen. At least you have the souvenir of the old boy.

jaybe's picture

Wow!

That's a great rack!

I have always hoped to get an unusual set of antlers - preferably by shooting it, but even finding one would be great.

You guys are to be congratulated in your persistence to get this great buck.

Glad you found him, even under the circumstances.

Thanks for the good story.