Dad always said not to shoot unless you have a clean shot.
During the 3 1/2-hour trip north to my brother-in-law’s camp, I wondered if this would be my year for a trophy. If it wasn’t for my father, who taught me to enjoy the outdoors, I wouldn’t be driving among the thousands of cars full of drivers and passengers heading in the same direction and probably thinking the same thing.
Welcome to the opening of the Wisconsin gun season.
I have a beautiful 9-pointer on the wall that I shot in southwest Wisconsin, but I always believed there was a bigger buck to be had up in the northern woods. My brother-in-law Roger and his family have harvested beautiful 8- and 10-pointers, and I had visions of something big.
We were up by 4:30 a.m. on opening morning, and I was set to leave camp and be settled by 6 a.m. That would give me time to hang my Tink’s in a tree and get situated before daybreak.
The morning sun was just starting to show its face when I noticed the wind was perfect, coming out of the swamp up toward my ground blind. Around 8 a.m., I heard crunching sounds to my far left. I saw a huge deer walking into the swamp and away from me.
I immediately raised my .280, trying to locate the animal with my scope. It was only in an opening for a fraction of a second, but I knew I had seen several white tines. I watched the buck’s silhouette as it walked farther into the swamp, never presenting a shot. Then it bedded down.
I could just see the buck’s outline with my naked eye, and every once in a while it would move its head, and I would get a glimpse of an antler. I began to shake, knowing this could be the monster buck I had been dreaming of.
No matter how I moved, I couldn’t find a hole to shoot through. This went on for two hours until I finally decided to just relax and hope the buck would eventually get up and head my way.
Around 10 a.m., I heard a deer snort in the distance. Immediately, the bedded animal rose and headed farther into the swamp. I tried several times to get him in my scope for a clear shot, but to no avail. All I could do was look to the sky and ask, “Why me? No one is ever going to believe I had this opportunity but couldn’t get a shot.”
Within 15 minutes, I heard a gunshot in the distance. I secretly hoped it would be enough to spook this animal back toward me. I heard loud crunching in the snow to my right, and my heart began to beat faster. As the noise got louder, I realized it was not coming up the hill behind me, but that a deer was walking the trail right below my blind.
I waited for a few seconds before the buck appeared in the open about 20 yards from my stand. I put the crosshairs behind its shoulder and pulled the trigger. It made three big leaps and fell. With a sigh of relief and a look to the sky, I knew I had a beautiful buck.
I sat in my stand for 30 minutes but couldn’t wait any longer before going to see how big the buck actually was; I counted 14 points. It is the biggest buck ever taken by anyone from the camp.
I couldn’t believe how quickly my fortunes turned from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. It’s great to know that there are monster deer still roaming the public-hunting lands in Wisconsin.
When I was young, my father always told me, “Don’t shoot unless you have a clean shot.” He was right, and I was rewarded for being patient. Read Recent Articles:
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This article was published in the November 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.