The Icing on the Cake

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It has been a very good year.   Saturday was opening day of the regular whitetail season. 

I left the house at 6 AM.  Went about 100 yards down the shooting range and stopped.  It was too dark to see where I was going.  I just stood still and listened for 15 or 20 minutes counting my blessings that I could literally start hunting when I stepped out of my door.  When it was light enough to see, I went another 150 yards and sat until about 6:30 AM. I heard a shot from the neighbor (1/4 mile away).  By 6:45 AM I decided that nearby stream was so loud that I wouldn’t be able to hear anything coming anyway.  Isn’t it funny how you can arrive somewhere in the woods and think it is absolutely silent, then after a few minutes of sitting quietly hear so much more?  In this case, the trickle of the stream seemed like a roar that would cover the sound of any approaching hoof steps.

I made my way down to the south end of Mom and Dad’s property and sat on an overlook where there is a fairly steep drop off about 20 feet of elevation with a 180 degree view of +/- 75 yards in 3 directions and a rise at my back so I’m not sky-lined.  I guess I settled in there at about 7:00 AM.  The were four gray squirrels to my left, a pair of red squirrels in front and three chipmunks to the right.  When I wasn’t watching the squirrels and imagining that their leaf rustling play was the sound of deer approaching, I passed the time either spraying ‘doe in estrus’ or sounding the doe bleat or buck grunt every 20 minutes. 

I saw a doe working her way toward me at 8:25 AM.  (I didn’t have a doe tag this year).  She came up to about 50 yards away from me, turned broadside and moved off along a stone wall.  About that time I saw the second doe.  And a third doe followed her.  I rested my cross hairs on each of them with the scope cranked up to 6X at 50 yards in the vain search for antlers….  Then there was a fourth, and a fifth flat top deer – all were either does or three quarter grown fawns from this spring.  I thought surely a buck would follow them.  They moved on and the woods got quiet again, or at least as quiet as those noisy squirrels rustling leaves, climbing trees, and gnawing nuts allowed.

I figured that I was in as good a spot as any because a trail of scent layed down by those five does walking within 50 yards was as good a buck lure as I could hope for.  Nothing in a bottle would work any better than live does, so I made up my mind to sit there another couple of hours.

Just a half hour later I picked out a lone deer going the opposite direction at about 75 yards.  It was just at the edge of my sight through a screen of brush and saplings.  I couldn’t see antlers but I figured that any lone deer HAD to be a buck, so I grunted at him with the grunt tube.

Very much to my surprise, he hooked around and headed right for me!  At 60 yards I could see spikes.  At 50 yards I pulled the trigger. 

He took 2 quick steps and looked behind him trying to figure out where that loud, HARMLESS noise had come from!  Between shooting steeply downhill and him being so close to me, I had managed to shoot completely over him.  I worked my bolt and corrected my aim.  The second shot was also a little high, but low enough to connect!  I hit his spine and both lungs just behind the shoulders and he was down and out at the impact without a twitch.

I knelt with my hand on him and thanked God for a successful hunt, then tagged him and went to wake up my son who has helped retrieve deer for the last several years.  That is another added bonus of being able to hunt right out of your back door.  My friend Gene’s 4 wheeler came in very handy  We drove right to the deer, loaded him and brought him home.  It was the easiest ‘drag’ I ever had!  That experience and the labor saving the ATV demonstrated snaking logs out of the woods convinced me to buy one for myself the following autumn.

I had missed the first shot and the deer turned to look behind him, so I was shooting from behind and about 20 feet higher in elevation when I hit him.  The bullet struck the back bone just behind the shoulders, blew up 2 vertebrae (and I think the front half of the bullet), then due to my poor shot placement the bullet tore up neck meat all the way until it lodged near the windpipe.  My shot could have been better for saving meat from damage, but I can’t complain about the bullet performance.

The recovered bullet had shed the front portion in typical Nosler fashion and retained the jacket and back half.  The .375 projectile still held 174 grains of the original 260 after travelling through +/- 24 inches of deer.  I can’t complain about that since 174 grains is the starting load for 303 British military ball and that has taken everything that walks in the last century or so. 

I am happy to harvest any legal deer and that goes for spike bucks as well.  My regular deer season was just three hours long and this tender tasty buck was the icing on the cake to wrap up the 2009 hunting season after helping my son harvest his first game (geese) and harvesting my bull moose.  I am truly blessed.


Deer Slayer's picture

I really enjoyed the story.

I really enjoyed the story. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures. Congratulations on the spike. He should make for some good eating. My dad and I hunt really close to our house, so it's almost like being in our back yard. I'm just kind of curious since you retrieved the bullet is there anything special you are going to do with it?

Rem2arms's picture

I just found this story and

I just found this story and read it Mike. Of course I knew of the deer but never read about it till now. Great job and I know the area well. BTW, I know that wheeler. ;)

ManOfTheFall's picture

Good story and some good

Good story and some good pictures there too. I really like retrieving the bullet, that is pretty cool. I can't walk out my back door and hunt, but I can get in my truck and drive to any of my spots and be up in my stands in less than 1/2 hour from the time I leave my house. So, it's almost like walking out my back door. Congrats on the deer, I'm sure he was good eating.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice story Mike, and

Very nice story Mike, and nice deer!  He's got some thick spikes on him.

One thing I laughed at in your story was about how quiet you think the woods are until you actually sit down and listen.  There's alot going on out there that we don't observe at first sight (Or hearing).

Thanks for the story!

jim boyd's picture

Great story Mike! I love the

Great story Mike!

I love the recovered projectile - that is a great keepsake of a super kill!

Spike or ten pointer, it is a good harvest and in the end, judged a success.

You tell the story in a good, down home fashion and yes, you are very blessed to be able to walk out the back door and start hunting.

Not many people have that and it is a treasure, for sure.

The value of the four wheeler - particularly as we get older - can not be overstated.

I use mine all the time - I try to shy away from it as pure transportation while I am hunting but for going to get a deer, it is supreme!

I use it a lot for hauling tree stands, feeders, etc... it is a life saver as you are working in the summer.

Throw in the fact that I have a small cultipacker I pull with it and I use it to pull a section of chain link fence to pull seed into the ground and it is a no brainer.

Back to your story, I am often amazed how often a deer will stand still when he or she hears a gun go off... we often see large packs of does late in the winter - and this is when we concentrate on filling the freezer... it is not unusual to shoot two or three from the same pack before they get wise and vamoose.... my brother does it all the time.

I am glad this fine young spike decided to stand still - otherwise your story might have had an entirely different "feel" to it.

Congrats, brother, great story - loved it... and you had great photos also.


Tndeerhunter's picture

good one!

Great story Mike. I always enjoy a story that includes family, whether they were there at the shot or not. I've got more than a few tales of my son-in-law helping me drag out deer. Hey if your son-in-law was 6'8" tall, wouldn't you ask him too??...LOL.

I was lucky myself this November's opening day of M/L here in Tennessee. Just a little scouting found me a decent spot for my stand and I set it up the day before the season would open. Only stubbornness kept me on stand after my toes had turned numb, but stay I did!

I was rewarded with a very nice Tennessee buck that was shot while looking for love.

I liked the story Mike!


jaybe's picture

Good Buck


  I would take that deer any day as well.

  Where I hunt, we mostly see spikes, forkies and sixes, with the occasional 8-pointer thrown in.

  Public land and heavy hunting pressure doesn't allow bucks to grow to any major proportions.

  If we ever do find one that is more than 2 1/2 years old, it is a very wary buck, indeed!

  You are hunting private property, but the situation can be virtually the same if all your neighbors also are content to take younger bucks.

  And that's OK - I for one feel that the quest for trophy antlers has been overrated, and in some cases simply causes friction and contention between hunters.

  Yes - it's always great to be able to drive your vehicle right to the downed deer to collect it without a long, laborious drag.

  Congratulations on the great season.

  Thanks for sharing this story.


groovy mike's picture

Happy indeed

I am happy to take any legal deer at all!  No hesitation to take a spike on my part.  Hunting pressure has been high on my property, but I have posted it and the deer herd has been doing steadily better and the racks getting bigger ever since!