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A Long Story


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Wow, nice Tim! Congrats!!!

This is an edited post... Lots of strong emotions on how this played out, I think Tim got screwed, others think he damned near won the lottery... To each their own.

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Sorry, guys. I've been busy with getting the deer taken care of and trying to help my son and camp buddies get one of their own. I just got home last night and am on the road today for work. I'll get the story posted as soon as I have time to do it justice.

Thanks for the interest and the congratulations.

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You driving to South America? That's a long time on the road. Maybe you started a new thread. I'll go look. Congratulations. What'd he weigh?
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I don't understand why after shooting an illegal deer you get to shoot another?  Pretty messed up system you have going on over there.

Congrats on the deer though.

I had to watch the biggest deer of my life walk away last week because I didn't have any New Hampshire buck tags left.  Whish I could have called a game warded, told him the last one was illegal, paid a fine, and freed up a tag for the monster.

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Okay, sorry all. I've had a very busy week and have just been too beat after my long work days to sit down and tell this story.

Thanksgiving morning dawned with some very light snow falling on top of the previous evening's snowfall which had been almost enough to cover the leaves, but not quite. It sure wasn't ideal tracking snow, but there was enough on the ground to get a read on what was going on in the woods and I knew it was going to be a good day. I had a gut feeling about where I wanted to go that morning and started still hunting up hill to the northwest of camp, finding tracks only after climbing up to the secondary snowmobile trail that wraps around above and behind us there. Following those tracks up higher, I had to make a decision to break off of them when they turned and went in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go, but by that point I was sure they were made by a doe, so I left them and moved on.

The leaves were not quiet and I was moving very slowly the whole time, three muffled crunchy steps and stop, look, listen, think, feel, then three more steps. I kept going up, heading toward an area no one from our camp had hunted yet this season and eventually found another, larger track that looked like it was laid by a small buck. I followed those, going even more slowly and found a bed in a small flat area on the steep hillside. It was a large bed that was devoid of snow and the tracks leaving it were fresh. They were very fresh, with none of the morning's snow in them. I slowed down even more and before long found a fresh rub on a three inch striped maple tree. Every little crumb of bark that had fallen was laying on top of the snow and the tracks of his forefeet were almost three feet away from the rubbed tree; this was getting good now.

RubonTrack.jpg

Slower, breathe, look, listen, breathe, feel. Now there were doe tracks and both doe and buck had been pawing the leaves under the beech trees to locate their fallen nuts. In places it was hard to distinguish which tracks I wanted to follow, but I was eventually able to pick out the buck as he continued up, always up and always in the thicker cover. There was more feeding sign close in, next to a large spruce blow down that the needles had long ago fallen off of. All my senses told me I was getting very close now and as I surveyed the higher terrain ahead I saw a ledgy step up, only about thirty feet higher than where I was standing and it appeared to flatten out to a wide bench with more beech trees on it. My gut, my instinct, my heart, or whatever it was that was guiding me, told me to stop or risk bumping the buck and miss any opportunity to tag him.

I saw a large, flat beech stump that was tucked in behind the blow down but to get there without exposing myself I had to get on my hands and knees and crawl the last ten feet. I did and then carefully sat down, laid my rifle across my knees and focused on slowly scanning the woods and keeping myself calm. I used my bleat can to make one doe bleat and scratched in the leaves with my foot to imitate feeding. I wanted him to come to me now. Nothing happened. I then realized I'd left my grunt call in camp. Damn, a grunt might have brought him in running. My stomach was growling so I quietly got a half of a ham and cheese sandwich out of my backpack and quietly started eating it.

Now I heard something in the leaves up on the bench. Feeding? Another bleat with the can. Nothing. I kept eating my sandwich until I heard something in the leaves again, more to the right this time and much more like footsteps. Two bleats on the can this time. Nothing. Another bite of sandwich while watching and listening intently. There! A deer moving off the bench seventy yards out and angling away to my right. I eased my body and my butt around to face that way, turned the scope up to 5x and made sure there were no horns. She was coming in and out of view behind ledges and trees, but I could see that it was a doe.

Now I heard loud, heavy footsteps in the leaves up where she'd come from. A big bodied deer appeared ten yards closer to me and following a line parallel to the one the doe took. Seeing antlers with my naked eye at sixty yards told me this one was a legal buck. The next view of antlers looked like a high fork horn, but he was running downhill and in and out of view while he watched where the doe had gone; I had no shot. I bleated with my mouth and watched him slam on the brakes to stop. By the time he did, all but his rump was hidden behind a large sugar maple and he was quartering away from me at a strong angle, now downhill from my hiding place. Up came the rifle, the reticle centered on his spine near its base, the safety eased off and I touched the trigger. I saw him go down and disappear behind the maple tree while I cycled the bolt and watched for him to get up, ready for another shot.

Twenty or thirty seconds later he appeared to the right of the maple, using his front legs to pull himself along. He was facing me now and while I knew he wasn't going to get up again, I wanted to end it so I centered on his chest and fired again. Nothing happened. Another round, again, nothing. At the next shot, his facial posture changed and he slowly dropped the rest of the way to the ground. Done. I finished my sandwich as I made my way out from behind the blow down and tried to pick a line to walk to the deer, excited, but with that little bit of melancholy starting to make itself apparent too.

It wasn't until I got within twenty yards that I could see the rack. "Wow," I said quietly to myself. "Wow."

FirstViewofRack.jpg

"Wow. Thank you."

CloserViewofRack.jpg

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You driving to South America? That's a long time on the road. Maybe you started a new thread. I'll go look. Congratulations. What'd he weigh?

He weighed in at 175 pounds empty, after hanging for over twenty-four hours. 110 pounds of venison is waiting for me to pick it up. :)

He wasn't huge, but a good deer for sure. I roughly measured the spread at 19 inches and the taxidermist estimated the rack at 110 inches +/-.

Yes Bob, I've had a pretty good year and I'm grateful for it. Thanks to all for the kind words.

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