A Successful Stalk and a Unicorn Buck

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My boy's first stalk:

Late in 2005, there was +/- six inches of fresh powdery snow muffling my footprints as I hunted. I was hunting my way home and stalked up to 3 does bedded not far from my home. I didn’t have a doe tag. He was just eight years old. I went home and asked if he wanted to see some deer and bundled in our boots, mittens, jackets and snow suit; I brought him within sight of those does. The first he had seen in the woods. We watched them for long minutes and he took several pictures with a cheap disposable camera I carried in my day pack at that time.

The camera didn’t have a zoom feature but if you look closely, you can see at least two deer in the picture (attached). One is to the left of center and one to the right of center.

The Unicorn:

The hunting that year was somewhat frustrating. It seems that my neighbors on three sides had not only decided to hunt the same land that I was hunting, but to invite their friends and family to do the same. I did bag a buck that was just barely legal. To be legally harvested as an antlered deer, a buck in NY state has to have a three inch antler. I was standing still in some thick saplings that had sprouted up after the land had been logged off a year or two before. I heard something approach and watched as another hunter passed +/- 75 yards away unaware that I was there. The sound of his footsteps had no sooner faded than I heard something else from the same direction that he had come.

I expected to see one of his hunting companions following him. But instead I saw a deer following right in his tracks, it would occasionally stop and smell his footprints. This deer was actually following the hunter I had seen walk through. When the deer put its head down the next time (at about 75 yards), I got my rifle up and put my scope on the deer. When he picked his head up, I saw a spike antler. I couldn’t see the other antler, but this one was enough to make him legal game. I let him keep coming toward me until I knew the tracks he was following turned away. Then I sent a bullet through his chest. He ran uphill just out of sight and collapsed against a downed log.

The other hunter came back some surprised at the sound of my shot only a few hundred yards away from him. The buck turned out to have only ONE antler. The other was just a nub. It had apparently broken off or been otherwise damaged when the antlers were growing and it had never developed. So I harvested a unicorn.

I am glad for any deer so I was not disappointed with the buck at all and his one horned rack is proudly displayed on my wall along side the larger sets of his two antler kin.

The hunt ended safely and with success for me, but it convinced me that we had too many hunters in that small patch of woods, so the next fall I began putting up posted signs and the hunting there has improved every year since.

Comments

Deer Slayer's picture

Congratulations on your

Congratulations on your "unicorn" buck. I enjoyed the story and the pictures. Thank you for taking your son out to experience that. My dad always did that with me and now I am starting to do that with my son. In a couple of years my family will be going on 3 generation hunts.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks, very nice story.

Thanks, very nice story. Great job on getting your son out there and getting him involved. That's what more people need to do instead of letting the kids play video games all day. The world would be a much better place. I know there are all kinds of people in every crowd. But, most people I know that are involved with outdoor activities generally seem to be more honest and respectable people. Has anyone else noticed this? Anyways, congratulations on your unicorn buck. Yes, younger deer equals easier drag and better tasting.

jim boyd's picture

I call it a successful

I call it a successful hunt!

I say this all the time... you came, you saw and you conquered!

I wil second what Jaybe said - young and tasty and easy to carry or drag out - make that EASIER - all of them can be a pain in the backside!

The invasion of hunters - what a nightmare - I am telling you - I would give away a few deer if I could just hunt unmolested... I HATE it when someone walks in on me or past me when I am hunting.

Now, in spite of that, you turned that disadvantage into an advantage - what a great payback for the guy that walked past you!

I am never that lucky - I always feel as if they screwed up my hunt and some of the wind goes out of my sails when that happens.

I actually took a unicorn this year also... very unintentionally, however... I was hunting with my new slug gun and a nice fat doe came out...

I even glassed her with my binos - at no more than 60 or 65 yards away.... put the shotgun on "her" shouler and the deer hit the dirt... when I got over there it was a small buck with the antler missing on one side and on the other side, the antler had turned and grown downward.

I guess, then, I actually took what they might call a "modified" unicorn!

Congratulations Mike, nice story and a nice deer.

I thought it was going to be that the child took the deer - but maybe that will be a "story to come"!

Great work - keep it up!

Best of luck....

Jim

groovy mike's picture

next year!

My son will be old enough to hunt deer in NY NEXT year. 

Hopefully we'll get THAT story, NEXT season

jaybe's picture

Them's Good Eatin'

Hey, I like that kind of deer.

They're usually young and very tasty.

They're also easier to drag out of the woods than a big ol' tough one.

I also have taken two bucks that have only had one antler.

Our rules in Michigan sound the same as yours: 1 antler at least 3" long.

We also have some areas and some licenses that have either a 3 on one side or 4 on one side restrictions, but I usually don't hunt in those situations.

My family likes venison, and I learned a long time ago that nobody likes the taste of antlers.

 

groovy mike's picture

thanks

Thanks Jaybe. You are exactly right.  Roast antler is a lot like track soup!