Blessings in Disguise: A deer hunting story

This was originally written in October 2011

As some of you may or may not recall, after a lot of health problems and a Kidney transplant, I took my Dad hunting with us this year. He drew a cow elk tag, and a Buck tag, myself and my brothers had similar tags to go along.
Well, this year things were a bit off. Everything that has ever worked for me in the past didn’t work, we were always in the wrong place or something else happened to screw it up. My elk hunting honey hole seemed to have plenty of elk, but never any close enough for Dad to feel comfortable with. We usually get a bull or two, and always the cows. But this year we didn’t get a thing, I felt horrible because Dad was so excited to go, and there was simply nothing that could be done. We still had as good a time as we could, and enjoyed the time out.

After a dismal elk hunt, the deer hunt started. I had high hopes, but I was worried after the elk hunt turned out to be a bust.
The deer hunt turned out to be quite the same, the first four days we didn’t even see a buck. I gave up on that spot and we left and headed home, I asked Dad if he wanted to try another spot a little closer to home. The next day we went to another of my old standby hunting spots, that was a bad move. Not only did we not see a single deer but on our way out, we were climbing up an ugly hill on the 4wheelers and Dad hit a rock just right and knocked his machine over. His pride and joy Grizzly rolled over the top of him and end over end for a hundred yards or so until it luckily stopped in a tree. Had it not it would have been gone forever. I stopped to see what was keeping him, and I thought for sure he was dead when I heard his bike rolling down the mountain behind me. He wasn’t hurt too bad, just scratched up and a bit bloody. I was working in a panic to get his bike out, gather his stuff that was scattered all over the hillside, including his broken rifle, just in case he needed medical attention, but by the time we got out it was pretty clear that he was gonna be ok. After that mess, Dad was pretty much out of excitement for hunting, and I had pretty much given up as well.
My brother in law called me Friday night and asked me if I wanted to go out with him Saturday morning, I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I’d never get a deer sitting home doing honey do’s.

So I went out with him, we saw a lot of this kinda stuff:

But we kept after it, and went on looking. After a couple hours and a good nap, we found a bunch of does out on a brushy flat. Several more kept appearing in the distance. I kept watching, and at the end of the flat I saw a deer that was too heavy to be a doe, I looked hard and quickly put antlers on him. I couldn’t tell how big he was, only that he was a buck, and that was good enough for me at this point in the game.
I hit him with my rangefinder, and he was around six-hundred and fifty yards moving just fast enough in the wrong direction. I watched him go into some deep and tall sagebrush, my brother in law sat and watched, while I sprinted towards the brush patch. On my way there, four more doe’s jumped out and started running towards the buck’s last known position. I knew they would tattle on me as soon as they got there so I kept running. The fleeing does seemed perplexed that I continued running but not after them. As I moved, I scanned the terrain ahead for a good shooting position. I found one, a clear spot in the grass slightly elevated with a good view of the patch where the buck was still hidden. I laid down and ranged the doe’s as they began emerging on the far side of the brush patch, just shy of four-hundred yards, one after another they came out, I figured he would be last. He came out of the brush like a ghost, he just appeared, I had already dialed my elevation, I was doping the wind which was left to right. I held my wind correction and pressed the trigger, the buck reared up on his hind legs as though I’d hit him, I listened for the familiar smack sound to return to me, but it never did. I settled back upon him and to my surprise he was still there, I ran the bolt fast and sent a second shot. I watched through the recoil and saw only his shape settle in the tall grass, his feet up in the air. My brother in law was still four-hundred yards or so behind me, and didn’t even know I had taken a shot. I had to do a victory dance with my hat in the air for him to start making his way down.

I made my way to the buck, still unsure of how big or small he was. I was quite surprised when I saw this:

He was definitely past his prime, his teeth were about to fall out. I was nonetheless happy to have found him, and we took him home happy as we’d been in weeks. It was a rough hunting season, and he is perhaps the ugliest buck I’ve ever seen, but he was a blessing in a very ugly disguise.

-CBM

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