The Buck StoryAs told to Cecille...
Email To Cecille – December 15, 2009
Hey you! So let me tell you about the buck (Dec.3, 2009 10am). I know, I know. I’m sure you think the pictures are kinda yucky but, Cecille, the experience was incredible.
We had eight guys on this hunt. It was Thursday, four days into only five days of solid hunting. Out before daybreak and back home long after dark.
We figured the bush strategy and placed everyone on their watches. This was the second hunt of the day. It was about 9:30am and wet.
What a week of weather. I only hunted one day that I wasn’t soaked to the skin. One morning we had rain, sleet, then snow so hard you couldn’t see past 25 yards. Then a round of hail, rain and it was sunny by noon. Unreal.
Eight of our guys guarded the perimeter of the bush, a long narrow section of hardwood. I was on a point that jutted out between two fields, a well known escape route for nervous deer. The field to the northeast had standing corn. We had one more guy up in there. The guys headed to the far east end of the bush to start dogging it. The idea is to place men in strategic locations then push through the bush to flush the deer out… hopefully past the guys waiting.
The guys jabbered a bit on the radio. They made their way across a creek and then would start lighting up the air with their barking, dogging the north side of the bush. They run a parallel line throughout. Usually I can hear them right off the hop but this hunt, the bush was quiet.
About five minutes had passed and I heard leaves rustling, snapping sticks and saw a slight movement in the corner of the field to my left. I had already picked my safety zones and shooting lanes. The sounds were coming from within these areas. I quickly calculated they could have reached the section of bush the sounds were coming from and relaxed my grip on gun. I still had it in the ready position when I saw movement slightly ahead of where the sounds had come from seconds before.
I can’t say exactly what I saw first. A rack? His head and neck? They all seemed to appear all at once. The thin line of his back topped the long grass. A buck! Only fifty-five yards out from me.
He was uncertain, milling around the edge of the field in tall grass. The hardwoods forming a gray/black background behind him.
I waited. Closer is better.
A split second lull and I knew he wasn’t coming out into the field. He didn’t want to go back into the hardwoods and he sensed he couldn’t cross the field. He didn’t know it but there were three guys fanned out behind me. I was the hook on the net. Three guys, a two hundred yard span.
He paused. I shot. The crack lit up the woods like a canon on a battlefield. He spun out into the field and gave me a clean second shot. He reeled and plowed head on into the bush. I shot a third time, just as he reached the trees.
I scrambled for my radio and blurted, “I got a buck down!” The answer was immediate, ” DO NOT let him get away. YOU GET TO HIM”. “GET SHELLS INTO YOUR GUN AND YOU GET TO HIM!”. “Ok!” was all I could manage while I reloaded two shells into the mag and checked the safety, keeping my eyes fixed to the spot where the buck hit the bush.
The last thing on earth a hunter wants is a wounded animal. A clean, fast kill is always the ultimate goal. That thought was just screaming in my head. I knew I had hit him hard. Getting to him fast to make sure he was down was another challenge. There was a bridge of four cedar rails laid precariously across a drainage ditch to be crossed and my passage seriously hampered by overgrown brush.
As I navigated the make-shift bridge and jumped into the field on the other side John’s voice came over the radio,” You’re in my shooting lane! Go back!”. What to do? “Am I comin’ or goin’?” I blurted over the radio. “GET TO THAT BUCK”, was the answer.
I turned on my heal and ran as fast as I could. Reaching the hardwoods, branches ripping at me, I ploughed into the bush. “Do you see him???”, the guys in the field behind me were yelling. “No!! Not yet”, I shouted back, frantically scanning the bush for any sign of the buck while being as careful as I could not to trip with my gun.
Ten yards in, I saw him. He had crossed a deep gut creek and was lying just up the bank on the other side. I got on the radio and hollered “I got him!!”. “Is he dead?” was the next question. “Almost” was my answer.
I stood with my gun pointed at him, watching every movement, listening to every breath. All the tiny hairs on my body standing straight up. The stories running over in my head about the hunter that turned his head for a second thinking their deer was down and turning back to find it gone. Others had watched as their quarry sprang to life and bounded off into the bush. The more serious stories were of hunters approaching too quickly and being gored by an antler or hoof. The latter story caused me to take a step or two back and reposition.
He took his last breath and I sat on the opposite bank. He was an absolute beauty. I took off my hat and brought it down to my chest, to my heart. “Thank you”, I said.
He gave me his life Cecille. He picked me.
He was an old deer. He had had a hard go of it. His back leg had likely been broken at some point. One knee joint was much larger than the other. The opposite rear quarter was twice the size of the other to compensate for the injury. The coyotes had tried their luck with him. He had an absess on his front leg probably from them nipping at him. He was missing a bite out of his ear. He was tired Cecille. He gave me his life… what was left of it.
Turns out…and I had no idea… he was huge! Over 250lbs on the hoof. It took three guys to help drag him up out of the creek and over the bank.
I will never forget him as long as I live. He and I are one now. He lives with me.
You know… I still have the scratches on my hand from clawing into the bush to get to him. When I look at them, I think of him. I didn’t realize it until this moment but his wrecked knee is on the same side as my bad knee. Things that make you go hmmmm. My spirit animal.
Luv ya hun… don’t think too badly of me. Merry Christmas to you and yours. :0)) Bye for now. xoxo