The Thanksgiving Buck
Late season hunting in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York can often be as good as it gets. Cold snowy weather, combined with the rut, will get the big bucks moving every time.
The first part of the season had been tough. Tom and I had hunted hard with little to show for it. We had placed stands in good feeding areas, but had seen nothing but doe and small bucks thus far. The big bucks must have been moving at night, as the area in front of my stand had several large scrapes. The colder weather coming in would force the deer to feed more often. I hoped that this would bring the big bucks into the feeding areas in daylight. It was just a few days before Thanksgiving and we decided not to hunt again until Thanksgiving morning.
It was fun preparing for turkey day, as my family came up each year. I loved having my grandchildren at the house thru the holiday season. They were learning to love the big woods as much I. It was fun taking them scouting before the season opened and answering their questions. They all came up to the lake the night before and listened to Tom and I plan the hunt for the next day. We would take our stands before daybreak and hope one of us got lucky.
As on most Thanksgiving mornings, the weather was poor. It always seems to rain or snow that morning. We had light rain and the cold dampness that comes with late November. Shortly after first light, I had some movement to my right and could make out two doe coming thru the hardwoods. They were feeding deer, taking their time. After about twenty minutes, they disappeared into the early morning mist. Another hour passed with nothing moving. Then a branch snapped behind me, and another.
The stand was placed in some blow-downs, very hard to get through without making any noise. After about two minutes, I eased around to my left and could see a deer about seventy yards out on the edge of the blow-downs. The deer was about as far back as I could see without standing up. I turned back around and waited, as I thought it would come my way.
That was a mistake, as the next time I turned around it was moving away and was now about one hundred yards out. I had no choice, I unhooked my safety belt and lifted my left leg out of the ladder and turned in the direction of the deer. Shouldering my Dakota I found the deer in the scope, and sure enough it was a nice racked buck. I looked ahead of him franticly trying to find a spot open enough for a shot. So many branches and limbs to deal with. That 300 Dakota was going to have to earn its keep today.
Its very dangerous to take a shot out of a tree stand, sixteen foot in the air, with no safety belt, and nothing to put your back against but open air. I wrapped my right leg around the ladder and waited for the buck to reach the open area I had picked. The buck turned short of the open spot and stopped. I put the cross hairs just behind his shoulder, thru the thick branches and squeezed the trigger. The big buck went down hard and I almost did too.
I would not want to do that again. Sitting there, I thought to myself, that was about an unbelievable shot. It was a full hundred yards, thru the hardwood branches, sitting sidesaddle in the stand. Wow, what a rush that will give you. I turned back around in the stand and sat for a few minutes.
The rain turned to snow as I climbed down and over some blow-downs to get to my buck. Arriving I found a beautiful 8 point Adirondack wide body. He would go one eighty or ninety easy.
Looking closer, I couldn’t find an exit wound. That 180-gram Nosler Partition bullet had broken up before hitting the deer but still had enough to put him down for good. I’ve heard all the stories about magnums and over kill, but this is reason enough for me to justify their use.
I put my tag on him and headed over to Tom’s stand to get some help. Tom had heard the shot and was headed my way. There we were, Thanksgiving morning, snow coming down, giving each other high fives on the top of the mountain. After dressing out the buck, we dragged him down off the ridge to the truck.
Arriving back at the house there was lots of excitement with the grand children. I taught them to say a prayer of thanks for the fine buck we had received on Thanksgiving morning. That Thanksgiving will live in their minds forever and mine as well.