By Ray G. Snyder
How even a 65th year of hunting can be the best you’ve ever had.
I’ve been a hunter for more than 65 years, and 2007 was the best season I’ve ever had!
The adventure started two years ago when I was visiting my family at their home near Ashland, Va. I saw a big buck and decided that I had to return. The following year, as promised, I went back to hunt but saw only does. Refusing to give up, I returned in ’07. The area I had chosen to hunt was a large, harvested soybean field surrounded by woods.
The first afternoon, again, I saw only does. The second afternoon, I decided to move about 25 yards away from the field and sat against a tree. I began to use my grunt call, mixing in a little bit of light rattling. Twenty minutes later, I rattled again as hard as I could. The third rattling session paid off, as I saw a big buck coming across the field.
The buck was running in like he was on a mission, and I could feel my heart practically beating out of my chest. In an attempt to calm down, I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me goof this up!”
The buck entered the woods out of range, and my mind was racing. Should I stand? A voice inside me said, “No. Stay calm and stay seated.” I had to do something, so I made a few more grunts with the deer call.
The sound made the buck turn, so I rattled the antlers lightly. It stopped in a clearing at 100 yards. I remember how beautiful it looked in the sights of my trusty old Model 12 Winchester. It jumped at the sound of the shot; and by the way it ran, I felt pretty sure that I got it.
I couldn’t find any blood at first, but I walked to where I last saw the buck. Looking ahead, I saw white! My heart started to pound again, and I could hardly believe my eyes. I counted 6 points on one side as I lifted the rack out of the leaves; the other side matched.
A 12-pointer is an awesome buck for a hunter of any age; but for me, at 80 years old, it’s still hard to believe. Remembering my prayer, I bowed my head and thanked the Lord.
The next thing I had to do was get some relatives to help get the monster out of the woods. Even though none of them are hunters, they seemed genuinely happy to help.
Upon returning to my home in Pennsylvania, I immediately took my beautiful buck to a taxidermist in Allentown. He said, “Ray, you must have been up North hunting.”
I replied, “No, it’s a Virginia deer.” He was shocked.
At my age, I certainly wasn’t expecting to be commissioning another deer mount. But this buck changed that. There was a spot I had reserved in my living room for a desert ram, the last trophy I needed to complete my “ram slam.” My wife, Grace, said, “Let’s put it there.” A man couldn’t ask for a better wife.
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This article was published in the September 2008 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.