By Richard C. West
It’s great to finally see the buck of your dreams, but don’t get too excited.
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 2015, an Illinois buck tested my heart. It was the second day of the firearms season, and I’d spent my first day – all 12 hours – on the stand with nothing to show for it but a couple of song birds, a red squirrel, two gray squirrels and a lot of leaves floating down to the forest floor.
On the second day, it was pouring rain. It seemed nobody was in the woods but me, because I didn’t hear a single shot. The wind was strong at times, and it was pretty loud in the woods. It was much nicer once the snow arrived, so I leaned back on some logs halfway up a slight hill and tried to stay dry.
After some time, I stood and used my doe/fawn bleat to try to rouse some action. Nothing.
A half hour later, I changed to a doe grunt, hoping I might lure in a buck. I was just putting the call away when I saw antlers rise above the bushes.
When the buck came up the hill, I realized I had two windows in which to shoot. I grunted at first when he reached the first opening, but he didn’t even pause. When he got to the second, I shouted! When he stopped, I pulled the trigger. That’s when my heart was genuinely stress-tested.
I put me gun down and then picked it back up. I did that several times. I suppose it was my body’s response to my mind wanting to do something ... anything other than just sitting and waiting.
When I couldn’t take it any more, I threw my pack over my shoulder and went to the top of the hill to take look for sign. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find it, or the buck.
I wanted to take a nice photo, but my hands were shaking too badly. In the 15 years I had been hunting whitetails, I had never seen a deer like that.
I thank God for my deer of a lifetime.
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