BUCK OF A LIFETIME
By Jeff Myers
November 26, 2008
When you write a deer-hunting story it should evolve things like dressing for the hunt. Facing the cold at the break of day as you watch the sun slowly rising. Hoping that it would warm you as you patiently watch the woods come alive. Wondering if your tree stand is up the tree high enough or if it is in the right tree all together. In my 37 years of actively hunting the grandest big game animal on the earth I have done that on many mornings. This ain’t one of those days!
The day before Thanksgiving found my beautiful wife Sandy and me at home. We were enjoying a relaxing morning reading our paper and drinking coffee. I was piled up in my recliner in the living room and she was in her sunroom. She enjoys it there as she can watch the birds and squirrels play and eat from the birdfeeders. She also watches for an occasional deer to cross the old pasture behind the house. In the late afternoon, she will put a coffee can of shelled corn out at the back of our lot for the deer. These deer are what I call an “urban herd” as we live in the community of Oak ridge NC, just northwest of Greensboro. It is a community that is over populated with deer. It also has its share of housing developments. It is not unusual to see a dozen or more deer every evening behind our house. Most of the time it is just does, but as the rut was in full swing we were also seeing some bucks. I had watched a small eight pointer and a high racked six on several occasions. My friends kidded me about baiting them to kill. Yes it is legal in my state and I have done so many times in the past at other places. But I didn’t want my wife mad at me for shooting her pets. Her attitude changed about a month earlier when we had a massive nine-pointer buck come up after dark one evening. I guessed at his rack being 20 inches wide and ten to twelve inches high. It was the largest buck I had ever seen alive! As I told her this would be a trophy for anyone she seemed to bend to my way of thinking. She agreed that if I had the chance I should take it. I also pointed out that there was way to many does and they should be thinned out but she would hear nothing about that.
So as black powder season started, I was spending my evenings setting in the upstairs window of my garage. Unfortunately this only allowed a view of the backyard and a small part of the pasture. Still I enjoyed scooping the small bucks and a number of large does as the came to the corn and the birdfeeders. Monday night of Thanksgiving week we say the buck I wanted chasing does. He was in the backyard at 9:30 pm. With the porch light shining on his antlers enticing me to shot him. I could not bring myself to such a blatant breaking of the game laws. Still, I drooled for this buck.
Wednesday started out as a typical morning as we read our paper, passing it back and forth from the sunroom to the living room when I heard Sandy call out. “Your handsome friend just ran across the pasture following a doe.” I came to look and was rewarded with the site of two does going from the big timber near the pond to the thicket they claim as their own. She told me to get my rifle, as he would probably come back across later. I went to my safe and pulled my Ruger bolt action 300 Win-Mag from the safe. Then I chambered three 180-grain cartridges and stood it in the corner of the sunroom. Sandy soon left as she had some things planed for the morning and I sat and did some paper work in preparation for a lunch meeting with my brother.
With my binoculars I could see him moving around in the thicket chasing a doe. Soon the two does I had seen earlier went back across the opening. A third doe that hesitated and looked back at the thicket before she continued soon followed them. I let the top of the window down and waited with my 300. As he stepped from the thicket I raised the rifle fearing I would not get a decent shot as he walked out to the middle of the opening. I tried to make a doe bleating sound with my mouth. I don’t know if I fooled him or if he was wondering what that crazy sound was. Never the less he stopped and looked at me. When I squeezed the trigger the recoil keep me from seeing his reaction, but I did see him and go straight back down the little rise he was standing on. I looked at my watch and saw it was 10:47 am, and I had just taken as shot at the buck of a lifetime in my bedroom slippers. Had I hit him? Was he dead? I watched and waited. Nothing moved. I knew better than to go immediately and look for him, as I didn’t want a wounded deer running off. I WAS SHAKING LIKE A LEAF IN A WIND STORM! My buck fever seems to always attack after the fact. The adrenaline pumping through my body made me think of a heart attack.
Calming myself I went to my lunch meeting with my brother. I told him and the men who were with him about the deer I had shot. I thought lunch would never end. Back in my truck and back home. I drove into the pasture halfway between the house and were he had been standing. I reloaded my rifle and walked to where I expected to see a blood trail. NOTHING! No blood. No hair. No deer. I took three steps and slowly studied the ground and the area around me. Three more steps search and look. Three more step search and look. Still no deer, no blood, tracks everywhere. It looked like a deer highway with trails crisscrossing back and forth. I looked into the thicket on the right and a doe jumped and ran. Now I am beginning to doubt my shot. Was I high, low, left or right? Three more steps search and look. Three more steps. I look straight ahead and I see him. A large horn and then his body. I touch his eye with the barrel of my rifle knowing he would not flinch. I stood a moment looking at the biggest buck I had ever seen alive. I silently thanked God for something I didn’t need but I sure did want. Then I let out the best rebel yell I could muster, trying to let all of Oak Ridge hear me.
I tried to drag him and knew right off I needed help. Walking out towards my truck I saw my neighbor’s wife riding in the back of her brother’s pickup as they were moving some things out of storage. Calling to him they arrived with his grandson in tow. I moved the truck as close as possible. He and I dragged it to the back of the truck. We both have bad back and we prudently waited till my neighbor sent her husband back with a friend. It still took four of us to put him in the back of my Chevy truck. I didn’t know where to get it weighed, but I feel a conservative estimate was 160 pounds. After I got him to my garage and hung him everybody seemed to come by, neighbors, volunteer firemen, and friends. Finally my son Jason came and we finished the work.
When I got the rack back from the taxidermist I took it to Ramon Bell, the president of “The North Carolina Bow Hunters Association”, for scoring. I know he would have rather I had taken it with a bow, but he graciously gave it a green gross score of 159 4/8 points. The net score was 154 1/8 B&C points. It has 20 6/8” inside spread with 27+ inch main beams, 12” and 13 2/8 G-2’s and 11 7/8” &11 5/8” G-3’s. Base circumferences are 3 6/8”. In my home state of North Carolina this was a large racked deer. We don’t have the monsters of the north or the huge racks of Texas but we have some that are this size and bigger.
Will I continue to hunt from my house in my bedroom slippers, probably not? Will my wife let me take some does from her pet herd? Ha! Ha! Yet he was chasing a doe and if she has a buck come spring and say in five years... maybe!