Rack Magazine

Double Take

Double Take

By Mike Handley

Brian Miller knew a shooter buck was among the many deer gallivanting inside the little pine thicket. At least three bucks, in fact (the other two were forkhorns), and 10 does had entered the copse during the two hours he’d been aloft in his ladder stand on Nov. 29, 2012.

Soon after the last trio wafted into the trees, all the deer began shuffling around in there while Brian frantically scanned the gaps for a head with antlers. When the 48-year-old oil deliveryman spotted a rack, he raised his scoped shotgun for a better look.

What appeared in his optics was so outlandish that he lowered his gun and closed his eyes for a second.

“I couldn’t believe … refused to believe … what I saw,” he said. “But it was still there when I opened my eyes.”

Even though he was looking at the back of the buck’s head, Brian could tell it was a fabulous specimen, far bigger than anything he, his father and brother had seen in the three years they’d leased that 17-acre tract on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Brian had hunted closer to his Millington home that morning and seen nothing. Afterward, he called his brother, Jerry, who usually gets off work at 3 p.m., to see if he wanted to join him for an afternoon hunt on their lease bordering Still Pond Creek. Jerry didn’t have his gear with him, so Brian offered to bring some and leave it in the truck.

Brian got there about 2:30 and, as they’d planned, went to the 15-foot ladder stand on the back side of the property so his brother wouldn’t have to walk past him later. The stand overlooks a 40-yard-wide open space next to some pines.

Shortly after 3:00, Brian heard noise. He initially thought it was Jerry arriving, but it turned out to be seven does and a buck. When he got a better look at the buck, his pulse quickened.

“I was excited,” he said. “I was beginning to think there wasn’t anything in the woods except 4-pointers.”

Double TakeAll eight deer disappeared into the pine thicket. Shortly afterward, a forkhorn left the crowded thicket and bedded down within 25 yards of Brian.

At 4:15, another 4-pointer appeared. It and the first one eventually melted back into the pines. When they’d gone, Brian, who had been unable to move when the little buck was bedded so close, stood to stretch his legs.

“I’d been a statue for an hour, afraid to move,” he said. “Then three more does passed through and went into that thicket. I thought, ‘Man, those pines must be getting full.’”

He was apparently correct.

When the deer began filtering out and walking toward a nearby pond – behind Brian’s stand – the lead doe passed within 20 yards, as did the second one. The third deer in line was the enormous buck.

Purely by chance, Brian had taken the time that afternoon to look behind him and imagine a few shooting lanes. He says he normally doesn’t even glance that way.

The buck stopped in one of those exact spots, at 30 yards, and Brian was ready.

After the kaboom, the deer fled toward the pond. It ran over a canoe and two aluminum boats, turned around, and ran over them again, and then Brian lost sight of it. The racket must’ve sounded like the local high school’s drum corps.

Brian was slack-jawed. He didn’t even eject the spent shell from his 12 gauge. That was the first time he’d ever stoked his Winchester pump with Federal’s Fusion slugs.

A bit later, a concerned Jerry yelled out, “What was that noise?” He thought Brian might’ve fallen from his stand.

When he arrived, he asked “What did you shoot, a doe?”

After Brian told him what happened, how big the buck was, Jerry thought his brother was joking. He didn’t believe him until he saw the dead buck behind one of the boats.

Jerry immediately fell to his knees and began counting points.

“Man, this thing’s incredible!” he shouted.

Double Take“There were so many points, it was hard to grab hold of the deer to drag it,” Brian beamed.

When Brian called his wife, Cathy, she thought he was kidding. So did his father, Harold, who didn’t want to cancel dinner plans until Jerry corroborated the story.

By the time Brian and Jerry got the buck out of the woods, the occupants of six or seven vehicles were waiting to ogle it. His sister-in-law, Patti Eason, was there with a camera, and there were others snapping photographs.

“It was unbelievable,” Brian said. “Me and the deer had sunburn from all the camera flashes.”

While all this was taking place, Brian received a congratulatory call from a buddy in Salt Lake City, Utah, who’d seen someone’s Facebook post.

When they took the estimated 4 1/2-year-old deer to a friend’s nearby welding shop, 10 more people were waiting to see it, and they kept coming. Some even arrived in their pajamas.

“I shook so many hands, my hand was tired,” Brian said. “But it all meant a lot to me.”

He worried all night long about the deer. When he arrived at the shop, the owner, Calvin “Boogeyman” Bladen, told him the spectacle had resumed at sunrise.

Even the taxidermist had heard about the buck long before Brian took it to him.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Brian said.

Hunter: Brian H. Miller
BTR Score: 206 4/8”

– Photos Courtesy of Brian Miller

This article was published in the November 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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