I have hunted deer for most of my life and have had my share of exciting hunts. Last January’s outing with my stepson, Jake, ranks among the best.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching Jake, now 13, how to hunt and what it means to be a hunter. We’ve been going together for five years.
Jan. 19 was the last weekend to hunt the 2012-13 season, and it also happened to fall on Jake’s birthday. Because I’d been fighting an upper respiratory infection, I was not overly enthusiastic at the prospect of getting up at 4:30 in the morning. I told Jake the night before that we would hunt, but he had to be the one to wake me.
If he woke me up, we’d hunt. If he slept in, we wouldn’t.
When I heard, “Come on, Bob, WAKE UP” at 4:30, I was proud to see the determination and love of the hunt in the boy I had been teaching. Jake continued with, “It’s perfect out today … the perfect wind for us.
Southwest, just like you said we needed!”
I sat up and said, “Let’s go,” knowing it would probably be the last day we would hunt that season.
Jake dragged me to the computer room after I got dressed so he could show me the wind and temperature. It was extremely warm for January.
We left the house about 5:30. We decided not sit in our favorite box blind, The Hilton. We’d sat there the previous season and found deer tracks on top of our boot prints while walking out afterward.
Jake knew the fallen log I suggested. He practically led me to it. We took our seats about 6:15, at least half an hour before legal shooting time.
About 7:10, Jake looked at me and said he had to go to the bathroom ... and that he couldn’t wait any longer.
I cringed, knowing it was prime time, but I certainly didn’t want to ruin hunting for him by making him suffer.
I told him to sneak over to a tree about 30 yards from where we were, to do his business and then to go to the pine tree about 50 yards in front of us. He could sit there for the rest of our hunt, since there was good cover.
I told him that once he got situated in his new spot, I would use the wind in my favor to circle around and get along the south end of the property in hopes of pushing some deer to him.
Soon into my push, I spotted about 20 does heading northwest up the ridge, not in Jake's direction. I knew the bucks would not be far behind them.
I rested my muzzleloader on a tree, zoomed in to the area behind the does, and spotted two bucks 200 yards behind them, coming toward me. Fifty yards beyond them was another, much bigger one.
As fate would have it, Jake would not end up getting his chance at a deer that morning.
He and I had been after this big boy, and neither of us would be happy if the other passed on the opportunity.
Our chance was here, and I was going to take it, for both of us.
I knew I had to gain some ground to feel comfortable taking the shot, but I couldn’t move without one of the deer spotting me.
I waited, trying not to let go of the cough building in my chest.
Finally, all three bucks started up the ridge and I was able to move closer ever so slowly. When the big buck bedded down and looked in my direction, I was trapped until it looked elsewhere.
It was my lucky day.
The buck didn’t lie there for very long. It rose and began ambling off, browsing, which gave me the opportunity to move closer. When I was within 60 yards, the thing looked right at me.
It felt as though we were in a staring contest that lasted hours, though probably for only a few minutes. I was certain it was going to bolt at any second.
For some reason, however, it looked in the direction the other deer went, giving me the one and only chance to make the shot. To make things even better, the buck took a step forward, exposing its entire right side.
I took a breath and squeezed the trigger. As the smoke cleared, I saw it running off, its head low to the ground.
Afterward, I walked back to Jake to tell him what had happened. As I neared my stepson, the cough I had been suppressing all that time finally erupted. Jake laughed and said, “You sound like John Coffey from ‘The Green Mile,’ hacking up something fierce!”
He asked me how big our buck was. He knew I wouldn’t shoot a doe without first trying to push her toward him.
I told him I really wasn’t sure how big it was, but it was huge.
We talked for a while, did our high-fives and thanked the Good Lord, as we always do. We then walked out of the timber to wait a few hours before taking up the trail.
Around 10:30, a couple of buddies and I returned to track the deer. I got nervous when I didn't find any blood, even though the shot felt right. Any doubts were short-lived, however, because it hadn’t gone far.
As we walked up on it, I couldn't believe my eyes. The buck was much bigger than I’d thought.
After taking a few pictures, we hauled him out of the woods and took it home to show our waiting friends.
Hunter: Bob Weber
BTR Score: 233 7/8”
– Photos Courtesy of Bob Weber
This article was published in the November 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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