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Stay on Target

Shotgun Success

Sun, November 23, 2014

When dawn broke on Friday morning, I was filled with emotions and anxiety. This, my 25th year of hunting, was just like many before. I am primarily a bowhunter, but I enjoy wearing the orange for a few days each fall. As shots begin to report through the air, I both inwardly smiled and cringed. With every shot, I fear that big buck I am after has fallen, but after a disturbing lack of shots last season part of me welcomed the noise.

Early on, I believed my hunt was doomed. My entire family was seeing deer, and lots of them. I had seen nothing. Then a small fork horn showed himself. A few minutes later, two adult does wandered by. As time wore on, a doe and two fawns made their way down the steep hollow. The final deer of the hunt, another small buck eased past me at 9:30. At 10:00, I decided to leave the woods and meet up with my family. At that time, I turned off my smartphone counting app. I had heard 69 shots. I was not disappointed with my outing. 7 deer, including 5 antlerless and 2 small bucks was not a bad morning. It was not the 4 bucks and 7 does that my wife viewed, or the 2 large bucks that my dad saw chasing a doe, but it would do.  My mom graciously offered to stay in and babysit for me until it was time to take my daughter to daycare so she was limited that first morning.

The afternoon hunt was approaching, and my wife and I arranged more plans for my 14 month old daughter’s care. My sister-in-law would pick her up from daycare and keep her until my brother came in early from hunting (due to a previous engagement) and watch her until dark. I know some might argue, but I have the best family in the world.

For the afternoon, I chose a different location a few miles down the road. My parent’s had repeatedly seen a mature buck in this area during bow season. I had played cat and mouse with him a few times. Twice he showed up on camera during daylight in a spot that I had almost chosen to hunt. But now that gun season (the great equalizer) was here, perhaps his luck would run out. At 3:37, I heard leaves shuffling. I turned to see a good buck headed my way. I grabbed the gun, and I almost blew it. While watching the deer, I attempted to cock the hammer. However, I hit the wrong thing and ejected the slug into my lap. I quickly grabbed it and stuffed it back into the gun. This time I watched myself cock the hammer. I found him through my scope, and I waited for an appropriate clearing. When the old 9 pointer hit the clearing I stopped him and promptly squeezed off the shot.

I knew the hit was good as the buck wheeled and ran. Twice, he almost went down in sight. I knew he had gone down just out of view. I waited a few minutes, collected my thoughts, and descended down the tree. I had not even made it to where the buck was standing before I saw him laying dead ahead of me.  When I approached, I realized it was the buck that I had so desperately tried to shoot with my bow. The same buck that my parents enjoyed watching several times. I experienced both joy and sadness as I so often did. I was amazed at the deer’s hocks. His tarsal glands were pure black and streaking all the way down his legs. He was old. I think he is either 6 or 7 years old in fact. I believe him to be a buck I passed up 4 years ago from this very tree.

The story would not be complete if I left out the retrieving of this old deer. I field-dressed him and then went to my parent’s house. When their hunt’s ended and they returned home, we shared stories. Remember how I said I had the best family? My dad prepared to help me get my deer out of the woods. This would not be easy. A mere 2 hours later, and many bruises and sore muscles later, we were stringing him up (the deer, not my dad).

I plan on sending the incisor’s to a deer lab to have him aged. Like I previoudly stated, I think he is either 6 or 7. I am very blessed to have been able to hunt for 25 years and the experiences shared with my family are better than any I can imagine. I have to say a special thanks to Dad and Mom (this was her 50th year hunting), to my brother and to my wife for helping make this tradition so fun.

This is a shot of the deer’s hocks. The tarsals are almost jet black.

I believe this is the same buck. The trail cam photo is from 4 years ago and at the time I thought he was either 2 or 3 years old.


Congrats Darin! Nice buck and a great story!

Posted by RussJames on November 23

Awesome story and deer!!!Congrats

Posted by WhitetailFreak on November 23

Nice one!!

Posted by cuttnstrut on November 24

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