Barry's Lucky Day

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All hunters know that no matter how much they know about the game they are pursuing, how well they know their rifle or bow and how it shoots, how long they practice or how prepared they are for the hunt – there is always one factor that they cannot control – that is the mysterious element called luck. This story is one in which luck played a big part – more than once.

Barry, his son Jim, Steve, Ron and Kay were hunting mule deer in Wyoming. It was mid-October and there had been some snow that year that didn’t always occur at this time of the season. Because of the snow, they weren’t able to get up into the higher country that they had planned on hunting, but they had another area that they liked too, so that’s where they went.

Barry had a bad back and Jim wasn’t real good at walking very far, so they were going to stake out a canyon while the other three made a push through it. The two men walked from their truck through a draw, up a big hill and sat down about 150 yards apart with Jim facing the canyon and Barry watching off to the other side of the hill.

The push proceeded without incident – in fact, it was too quiet, as no deer were pushed out at all. Barry and Steve had been in touch by radio, and it was agreed that the two would go back to the truck and wait for the other three. They had to walk back through the draw and over another hill to get to the vehicle, and Barry had to stop every once in a while to bend over and stretch the muscles in his back. They made it down the draw and up the other side when Barry said, “I can’t go any further until I give my back a rest.” So they sat down. Barry laid his rifle on the ground, stretched his legs out and reached out to grab his ankles with his head down by his knees to really stretch his back muscles.

Looking at the top of the hill from tthe bottom of the draw.

He was in this position when suddenly Jim said, “A buck! A buck! There goes a buck!” Looking up, Barry saw a nice buck with a sizeable rack heading up over the top of the draw. Apparently it had been bedded down there and was finally spooked into jumping when the men stopped and sat down. At this time it was only about 80 yards away.

Barry grabbed his rifle, found the deer in his scope and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened! He suddenly realized that he had never put a bullet in the chamber upon leaving the truck in the morning. He had been sitting there the whole time with an empty chamber! Meanwhile, in his excitement, Jim had picked up his rifle and instead of shooting, had worked the bolt and jacked a shell out onto the ground! So far, our hunters are not doing too well!

Barry figured out what his problem was and put a round in the chamber. By now the deer was about 100 yards away. He fired, but his shot had no apparent effect on the retreating buck. Jim also fired, then Barry fired again. Steve was watching all this through his binoculars from a distance and called to the two men on his radio. “I didn’t see any sign of a hit, guys. I think that one got away.” Barry agreed, but he said that he was going to walk up to where they last saw the deer just to make sure.

He walked up the hill to the place of the last sighting looking for any sign of a hit. Finding none on the rocky ground, he continued on to the mahogany, which still had some snow around them because of the shade they had provided from the sun. He located the tracks of the deer, and as he followed them he saw very small flecks of blood here and there. “Hey Steve, I’ve got some blood here! It’s not much, but it’s blood”, Barry reported on the radio. He continued to follow the tracks through the mahogany until they ran out of the shrubbery and back down into the rocky ground of canyon.

He stood there looking down into the canyon, when suddenly Jim said, “Look, there he is on the other side of the canyon!” Barry immediately sat down and rested his Weatherby Mark V chambered in .270 Weatherby Magnum on the big buck that was standing broadside ¾ of the way up the other side of the canyon. At the sound of the shot, the buck dropped straight down.

Remember what I said at the beginning about luck? Well, lets think about some of the things that happened in the taking of this deer. First, there was the fact that the two men had stopped to sit down to rest that made the buck jump up from his hiding spot. If they hadn’t stopped, he probably would have remained hidden. Then there was the fact that after crossing all the way down the canyon and up the other side, the deer stopped to watch his pursuers. He might just as well have gone over the top and gotten clean away.

But what about the blood trail they were following? Well, that was pretty lucky, too. You see, those small flecks of blood on the snow wouldn’t have been visible down in the canyon, and the deer would not have lain down anywhere because of his wound, either. You see, that blood came from a small bullet hole in his ear! It wasn’t enough to even slow him down, just enough so that Barry followed it through the mahogany so he could see where the deer stopped on the other side of the canyon.

The next time you go hunting, don’t forget to take a little luck along with you!


ndemiter's picture

man that buck had a nice

man that buck had a nice sized body. maybe a little of it is the perspective of the camera, but nice deer!

hey, do you know where i can buy a bottle of that "luck" as you call it? i'm pretty sure Cabela's isn't carrying it this season!

nice story. I wonder if an animal thinks about all the "what ifs" after it's hit? like, "what if I had just stayed in bed today" or "why did I walk over THIS hill?"

groovy mike's picture

Luck is an interesting thing...

Thanks for sharing the story Jerry. I always enjoy your writing.

“Luck” is an interesting thing. Your story really demonstrates my feelings on luck too. I believe that luck follows those who diligently pursue their goals. No amount of “luck” helps you if your bad back had made you decide to stay home or if you had quit trying two hours before. I am not inclined to accept the Hindu philosophy but the word “karma” seems to convey what I associate with luck. What goes around comes around and you get what you give. I guess I feel that you get what you deserve in most cases – sometimes that’s good, often not – but God is in control and has a perspective that we don’t. Scripture tells us that “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” And I know this to be true. It is just that while we are going through something unpleasant – like a hunt with no game seen or shots missed, stalks blown etc. that we don’t often appreciate that it is exactly these experiences which make us a more careful, better (dare I say “luckier” ?) hunter. The same is true in the non-hunting parts of our lives as well. At least that’s how I see it.

Like Barry I made that mistake of not chambering a round once. It was a gorgeous buck that jumped up and bounded away with his rack held high and my sites just behind his shoulder when I heard “CLICK!” Ugh! I feel your pain Barry! I’ve never made the mistake that Jim made – ejecting without pulling the trigger but lots of guys have. He’s not the first and won’t be the last!

Barry definitely made a good call checking for blood after shooting. It would have been an easy thing to get dejected and walk away after that deer disappeared. But then – this story would have had a different ending now wouldn’t it? It would be the same deal if he read those tiny drops of blood as a superficial wound not worth tracking and never followed up on the buck. Being lazy negates “luck” – diligence seems to magnify it!

This story reminds me of why I keep shooting when a deer doesn’t go down. I know too many guys that think that the first shot is good and let the deer go assuming that it will fall over. Often it doesn’t because the first shot didn’t go where it was meant too. I once took a doe that I shot at twice. One shot was a clean double lung hit behind the shoulders. One was a little hole in her ear! It wasn’t too many years ago that I hit a buck that wheeled and ran away. My next shot took him through the hock of a hind leg without touching bone or tendon! Turns out that my first shot was lethal but you just never know for sure. I’ve found that I’m not real good at much, but I am stubborn and sticking with it eventually pays off more often than not.

BTW – thanks for sharing the photo with the story too. Photos always make the story better and THAT is a MONSTER of a muley buck and one I’d be proud to hang on my wall!

numbnutz's picture

Great story, Thanks for

Great story, Thanks for sharing it. I really enjoyed it. Congrats to Barry and his luck. Sometimes (more often than not) luck has everything to do with your sucess. Again Thanks and congrats.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a great well written

That is a great well written story.  That os also a really nice looking buck!

arrowflipper's picture

Loved it

Hey, great story.  I loved it.  Reminded me of so many hunts I've been on and how things just happen.  As far as luck goes, I've heard that the harder I work, the luckier I get.  I agree that the circumstances of this hunt seem like "luck", but they were doing some things right. 

And by the way, that was one nice buck.  I can see why you were shooting at him.  I have never hunted Wyoming much, but I've seen some nice animals there.  It seems to be a magnet for guys from the East wanting a Western hunt.  That and Colorado.  But don't forget Utah.... it has some mighty fine mule deer.

Thanks for a fun story with a good ending.  Luck or no luck, that was a great buck.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it, and the picture too. Congratulations on a very nice muley buck. This reminds me of a hit I had on a doe once. I made a good shot on her. I seen my arrow pass through right behind her shoulder. As much as I looked I could not find a drop of blood. My son and I began making large circles down hill the way she ran. It had been almost 2 hours and we had no sign of her anywhere. I decided to look around the pond because I know wounded animals will head for water. Just as I got to the pond she jumped in and swam across the pond. I waited for her to reach the other side and put one more arrow in her which finished her off. So, yes, luck and persistence both can pay off. 

Deer Slayer's picture

Thanks, I greatly enjoyed

Thanks, I greatly enjoyed your story. Congratulations on that nice muley buck. I remember that hunt my dad talked about with that doe. I remember hearing that loud splash and I thought my dad fell in the water. It was a pretty crazy day.

WishIWasHunting's picture

Good story, and thanks for

Good story, and thanks for posting it. 

Looks like a real nice buck.  A few questions though: Any idea how far the shot was that he connected on?  Do you have any pictures of the deer straight on? How did the other members of the hunting party fare on this trip? 

Congrats to your friend and thanks for sharing! 

hunter25's picture

Another great Wyoming story

Another great Wyoming story Jaybe. That's a great buck in my book and shows once again a little luck can play a big part in your hunt. Of course being in the right area and not being in to much of a hurry played a big part in the success as well. This also drives home the point of always following up on the shot no matter what you think happened when you pulled the trigger.

I hope your hunt this fall is just as successful and expect a full story on it when you get back.