Rookie with Buck Fever vs Tactical Patience
I think we all have one of those hunting days that come in our lives that we would give anything to be able to live again. That day for me came as a rookie deer hunter a couple years back.
I have been scouting and hunting my little wooded lot for a couple of years. I found and studied the rubs and scrapes along the game trails. Watched the does move through the area on several occasions. After several weeks into the season the rifle season opened up, pay day, I knew for sure this was gonna be the year. After much thought that night and into the next morning I finally decided on the right spot to settle. Just to let you know I am primarily a ground hunter.
I prefer to sit in and amongst the trees and bushes instead of my tree stand. I have and use the stands but I prefer setting at ground level in the woods its seems more personal and greater challenge. So I left out the back door of the house crossed the back fence on the other side of the horse stables and headed down hill towards “the bottoms” as I call it.
Picture 7 or 8 acres of thick woods in the shape of a triangle with the point of the triangle being my back door. Not that much as far as comparison to what would normally hold trophy game. The trick to these 7+ acres is it's central location. Grand Central Station between farms and creeks and several other deer friendly habitats. I am very happy with my small hunter's paradise.
So back towards the bottoms, named so because once you are there you will be standing in a creek and have to climb up hill in 3 directions. Down the hill I go to my right about 50 yards is an old barbed wire fence to separating the property lines between me and my neighbor. To my left nothing but woods for several yards. I get to the bottom of the hill about 50 or so yards from the creek bed and still about 50 yards from the fence off to my right. Between me and the creek was a major game trail that came from my neighbors pond about 500 yards away through his pasture and under that fence. It ran from right to left and paralleled the creek up the hill to the edge of the woods off to the left. I knew I was in the right spot. Yes I even checked the fence crossings where I found hoof tracks on both sides of the fence and even occasionally fur in the barbed wired. So I was in my spot about watching and waiting. I had my 7mm Mag and my handy dandy shooting stick. I was ready. I was in the zone searching and scanning, full alert.
Off to my right a small flicker of movement I thought I seen. Or maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. Which we all know happens in that situation. I stared in the direction I thought it came from. Leaves falling, darn it. Then a few seconds later again. I noticed the “leaves” were falling horizontally not vertically. That did not make any sense, cause there was no wind. I slowly blinked my eyes to give them a chance to refocus. As my eyes opened and refocused on the spot where the leaves were falling I could see into the thick brush to see Mr. Buck himself. I froze at first, thinking I had lost it. But no it was reality and that reality cautiously continued to patrol right along side the game trail not even 2 or 3 yards from it. But still a good 25 or 30 yards of brush between us. I had my rifle prepared on my shooting stick, set up perfect to observe or shoot at a moments notice. I looked through the scope to get a better view of him and to see what he looked like in zoom. He sported a decent 8 point rack with a fairly heavy body as far as southern white-tail are concerned. A definite keeper.
His ninja senses must have kicked in because at that very same instance I scoped him he looked at me and I knew for sure we had made eye contact through the scope, it was freaking me out. And this is where I mention that this would be my first buck, yes I said it, my first buck. We exchanged looks for maybe 7 seconds but seemed like 7 years. He turned towards me at a funny angle which I thinks called quartering towards, I am not for sure. If you look at the thumbnail and picture I added for this story and imagine my buck at that angle but head facing me instead. It was now or never, I knew he seen me and he was about to bolt. I lined up a perfect shot placement, I thought. I double and triple checked and slow trigger squeeze, boom shot away. I see him hop up in there front feet first like a reindeer getting ready to fly. But his flying didn't go very far maybe 3 feet up and 5 feet forward and then he found the ground, hard. He flopped around for maybe 7 to 10 seconds then everything got deathly still and quiet. I did it I finally got my first buck and he was a beauty.
And then the rookie in me took over and I jumped up to celebrate and pat myself on the back. And what do you think happened? He jumped up too and staggered to his left and right for maybe 3 steps. After a second or two of my brain trying to acknowledge what my eyes were seeing I raised my gun to get other shot. Too late, he took off like a rocket to the left along the trail out of sight in about 4 more seconds.
Needless to say I was almost in shock but the real shock came about 10 more seconds later. After Mr Buck was gone out of site I stood there trying to regain my composure and figure out what the heck am I going to do now. After about 10 seconds of trying to crap my pants off to my right I noticed movement back towards where everything went down and with the good Lord as my witness I watched as the Grand-daddy of the woods trotted right out to where I just shot Mr Buck at. When I tell this story to my family and friends I use the name “TV Deer” instead of Grand-daddy. Because you only see deer like that on those high dollar deer ranch hunting shows.
Well Grand-daddy looked at me snorted and trotted back where he came from. I never could get a count of points. My thoughts after I came back to my sense was that due to the commotion Grand-daddy thought there was some bucks fighting and messing around on his territory and harassing his girls. Now a few years later stories tell that there is a 14+ point, big body “TV Deer” patrolling around those woods and the surrounding properties. I can't say for sure. Only time will tell.
You ask what happened to Mr Buck? Well me, my wife and kids, my two neighbors to my right followed his blood trail for hours that day. We crossed several property lines and covered several hundred yards until dark came. Used dogs the next day, Mr Buck never appeared. That day will live with me forever. I changed a lot of my hunting, shooting and tracking tactics since then. To this day I haven't had a deer run more than 30 yards after the shot. Hairs still stand up on the back of my neck as I pull the trigger. If I could only have that day back.