My 1.5-Point Buck

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“How big was your buck?”, is a familiar question that is asked among deer hunters. Typical answers usually range from, “A spike” to, “An eight-pointer”, or anything in between. Sometimes the number goes even higher to nine, ten or more. In my neck of the woods (Michigan), there are some big deer, to be sure. But more often than not, the number of points on a whitetail that is killed here will be eight or less. I have a friend who has shot 102 bucks in his lifetime and still hasn’t collected one that is ten points or more – and that includes hunting in four different states! I recently told him that I sometimes dream about taking a ten-pointer before he does!

This story is about a deer that I tagged during the 2007 season – my 1.5-point buck.

As our practice has been for the past several years, my wife and I had traveled to my friend’s cottage on a lake in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula.  We hunt public land up there, so we never really know what kind of hunting pressure we’ll find until the morning of opening day.

We always have a plan on where we will be sitting when it gets light enough to see, but we never know if that spot will be occupied by another hunter when we get there. I have walked in to a specific tree and found someone exactly where I was hoping to be. That’s always interesting, because it means formulating a “Plan B” in the darkness. Even if we find our “spot” unoccupied, there is always the possibility that when daylight arrives, you will begin seeing blaze orange through the trees – another hunter (or hunters) sitting anywhere from 50 to 100 yards away that you didn’t see while it was dark. This is sometimes referred to as "sitting in a pumpkin patch"!

Welcome to the world of public land hunting in Michigan!

On this particular opening day, no one was encountered as we set up in our chosen positions; so far, so good. My stand was located on a flat area that bordered a cedar swamp; we call this particular area, “Oak Flat”.

The swamp was long and narrow, running for well over a mile through mixed hard woods, and lower in elevation from the surrounding terrain. It was a favorite travel route for deer, especially once the presence of hunters became a factor in their lives. From my chair in front of a deadfall, I could look down into the swamp as well as through the woods to my left, right and behind me.

 

                      Looking into the swamp of mixed cedar and pine.

The morning began to pass by with the predictable sound of gunshots; there were several during the first hour, and then less as the day progressed. By 9 am, I hadn’t seen a deer, nor had I heard a shot from the direction that my wife was sitting in a popup blind probably 200 yards away.

It was nearing 9:30 when I suddenly heard the sound of a deer running; very easy to detect, given the fact that the ground was covered with dry, crunchy oak leaves under the light cover of snow. I spotted it on other side of the swamp, running as though it had been spooked by another hunter. I could only see it through the trees, and it offered no possibility of a shot, but passed from my view in the general direction of Cynthia’s stand. My hope was that it would slow down before it reached her location and she would be able to get a good shot at it.

After a few minutes passed, I heard a slight sound behind me. I slowly stood up and turned to peer over the deadfall that was at my back. There was a doe, gingerly stepping in the leaves on my side of the swamp. She had apparently crossed the swamp just as I lost sight of her, and was now making her way carefully up to the flat. She would have passed behind me without my ever knowing if it hadn’t been for the slight noise of her feet on those leaves. I raised my rifle and waited for her to step between two trees. At the sound of the shot, she dropped in her tracks.

That was only one of three deer that our party tagged that first day; Ed had a doe, and a college student with us had shot a spike. We dined on venison tenderloin that evening – Yum!

On the morning of the second day, I was back in my spot by the deadfall. Once again, the first two hours of daylight had produced no deer sightings. The clock was moving past 9 am when I spotted movement across the narrow swamp.

I shifted the Ruger bolt action rifle in my hands and began looking more intently. A doe was slowly working her way along, nibbling on something here and there, very casually and seemingly unbothered by anything. My doe tag was already filled, so I scanned her head several times through my scope – turned up to its highest power – but could see no indication of antlers.

It was probably after about 15 minutes that she had worked her way to a position directly in front of me, about 60 yards away and slightly downhill, she being in the bottom of the swamp. It was then that I noticed another deer, following along the doe’s same path, back where I had first seen her.

“Ha!”, I thought. “It’s a buck following her!” But no amount of peering through the scope could produce any antlers on this one’s head either. Eventually, the second deer caught up with the first one, and even though I would occasionally put the scope on them, there was still no evidence of anything that would lead me to believe there was a legal buck there, having at least one antler 3inches long.

Then I noticed that the second deer seemed to be paying a lot of attention to the back end of the first one; now that was highly suspicious! I again checked through the scope, and what do you know, but I saw the unmistakable curve of antler extending above the head of the second deer! That was all I needed. Without lowering the rifle, I flicked off the safety, settled the crosshairs behind his shoulder and touched off the shot. The 150-grain bullet from the .308 did its job. Just like the doe the day before, he dropped straight down as the doe bounded away.

Upon approaching the deer, my heart jumped into my throat as I saw no antlers on its head. Had I shot another doe – without a valid tag? I couldn’t have! Standing over the deer, I saw nothing that resembled a legal buck.

I reached down and turned the deer’s head and that’s when I saw the single, slightly bladed antler on one side only. I guess the light and angle had to be just right before I could see it in the dimmer light of the swamp. The other side had some antler growth, but it was very stunted and turned down almost against the skull. I had shot a 1.5-point buck!

 

                        Unusual antler growth of my 1.5-point buck

According to biologists, antler deformities are very common in deer. Whitetail deer tissue growth in antlers is among the fastest growing tissues in the entire animal kingdom.  Deer antler tissue has been documented to grow from ¼ inch to ¾ inches in a day, or 24 hour period. During deer antler development, the deer’s antlers are very delicate and extremely sensitive. This is the time when most antler damage or breakage occurs, not counting that which occurs during the fighting stages of the rut.

Apparently, my buck had done something very early in the growth of his antlers to result in this unusual formation that I was now looking down at. But, hey – how many people do you know who can say that they’ve shot a 1.5-point buck?

Comments

numbnutz's picture

Very good story Thanks you

Very good story Thanks you very much for sharing!!! nice looking buck as well. I have a friend that drew a spike elk tag as a second choice a few years ago. he was out hunting and saw a group of elk glassed them over found a few spikes in th heard. So he worked his way into shooting distance and glassed ove rone more time, thats when he saw the 5 point spike. on one side of the rack was a single spike with no forks and about 3 feet long, and on the other was a 5 point normal looking rack, well under Oregons defanition a "spike only" elk only needs one un-forked antler. so by the book he was a legal elk so he took it. very unique animal for sure I'll see about digging up some pic of that goofy elk.

Deer Slayer's picture

I enjoyed the story and I

I enjoyed the story and I would like to congratulate you on your 1.5 point buck. That just sounds really funny. I can tell you one thing for sure. It may not have the biggest rack in the world but those young deer have some of the best tasting meat ever.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Funny story! I had a buddy

Funny story!

I had a buddy back in Vermont that had the saem thing happen, but it was actually a really nice 4 or 5 point rack on one side.

He jumped it, saw the rack and fired.  He walked up to the deer, and to his horror, only saw a coupleinch spike on it's head (Illegal). 

He swore to his Dad that it had horns, and his Dad reached down and grabbed the head. 

When he lifted it, the rack came out from under the leaves.  It had skidded to a stop after being shot, burying it's antler in the leaves.  They got a good laugh out of it.

Thanks for the story!!!

elkkill06's picture

Awesome !!

jaybe,

That was an amazing story ! I felt as though I was there with you and I feel that too many times the hunt is taken away from by size of antlers. Some of my greatests hunts have been ones that ended with no animal at all or a small deer or elk.

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story and pics.

Quinton

arrowflipper's picture

Great story!

Thanks for a very entertaining story.  I lived it with you.  You drew the picture for us.... 

Hey, there isn't anything like that first bite of tenderloin the night after a successful hunt.  I brought my kids up on that "first bite" of tenderloin.  It never made it to the freezer in our house.

Thanks again for the story.  It's what keeps me going between seasons.

hunter25's picture

Thats a good story Jaybe,

Thats a good story Jaybe, Even in the U.P. when I was a kid the hunting was very similar on opening day and as a result it is the only time of my life that I mostly bow hunted as my dad did not even want to be out in the rifle season because it got so bad.

Interesting you wrote this story as I just posted last night a picture of the 2 smallest bucks I've ever taken also. One of which I thought was a doe but was in fact able to put my doe tag on as the antlers were so short.

I grew up with the philosophy that you should always take what God sent your way and be happy.

ManOfTheFall's picture

I liked your story. One time

I liked your story. One time in my earlier days of hunting I was wanting to shoot a doe. I seen what I thought was a doe coming so I steadied my bow and let an arrow fly. When I went down to get the doe I seen it had 2 inch spikes on it's head. I had shot a little spike. Luckily for me the spikes were under 3 inches so I could still count it as a doe. I never even looked that close because I didn't see any antlers sticking up so immediately I said to myself it's a doe, take her out.