It was a cool and clear autumn evening. The shrill sound of the referees whistle signifying the end of the third volleyball match was quickly drowned out by the cheers and applause from the parents and friends that all had come to support their teams. The R-P girls had done it again, proving that team work triumphs over individual efforts every time.
The girls had come out on top in three of three. I had not planned to hunt this evening, knowing that the game was going to take up most of my time, and I was on the hook for a taco supper. My 11-year old son Steve and I quickly made for the exit. As I passed my wife MJ in the bleachers, she asked if I was planning to hunt. I played it calm and casually said I would play it by ear. I blew her a kiss, and headed for the door. I was going to hunt.
Steve and I arrived at the farm at 5:30 pm. I quickly took a Navy shower and threw on my hunting garb in a near panic. I raced through the woods for a couple hundred yards, then slowed to a squirrel's pace as I approached the stand that Steve, my friend Kizzy, and I had put up days before. I climbed into the stand and got comfortable. It was a few minutes before six, and the golden hour was about to begin.
Leaves rustled behind and to the left of me startling me back to attention. I quickly scanned the oak woods for what must be a deer browsing the forest floor for freshly fallen acorns. I saw nothing. As I turned to focus my attention on the well travelled deer trail, there he stood. The wide antlered monster stood on the trail only 15 yards from my stand, and had both eyes pinned right on me. He had me dead to rights. As he took a step back, I quietly thought... well, nice seeing ya... adios.
Much to my surprise the buck simply turned broadside and began a trek straight up the hill in an effort to move downwind and establish what the awkward lump in the tree was. As he moved behind some slender birch trees, I quickly got my bow in position and went to full draw. He slowly and cautiously tested the air as he moved into a shooting lane that Kizzy and Steve had cleared when we set the stand just days before. I took careful aim at the bucks vitals, and let the arrow slip from my fingers. The buck exploded through the heavy brush and disappeared over a small oak knoll, taking out everything in his path. The arrow had found its mark. As I stood in the treestand looking at my bright crimsom colored arrow sticking in the ground only 15 yards away, I asked myself, "Did that just happen?" I could not believe that the buck that I had missed only two days earlier had given me a second opportunity. It was ten minutes after six.
The calvary arrived shortly after 7 pm, and we started on the bucks trail. The trail was clear, and we followed it with ease through several pockets of brush and across one ravine. We had been on the bucks trail for nearly 150 yards when we climbed out of the ravine with Steve in the lead. The buck piled up just out of the ravine as if the climb had taken all the buck had left in him. I looked at the buck and simply could not believe my eyes. The twenty inch wide eleven pointer had two good splits in his back tines and had a couple of sticker points just to add character to his already magnificent rack.
After the photo session, and the deep woods celebration, the hard work was about to begin. The buck weighed just under 200 lbs and it was not going to be an easy drag to the logging road more than a quarter of a mile away through heavy brush and downed timber. The calvary which consisted of Jared, Sanford, Matt, Kizzy, and Parker took control of the situation and began what would prove to be a very tough drag. I left them and headed back to the farm with Jaclyn and Steve to get the ATV's that would carry the buck out once the boys got him to the logging road. I heard the groans, loud snorting and wheezing from the thick stand of prickyly ash from the now exhausted calvary as they pulled the massive buck the final one hundred yards and onto the logging road.
As we loaded what was sure to be my buck of a lifetime for the trip back to the farm, and shared our thoughts and excitement about the evening events, it struck me. I had my family, my friends, and I somehow had got that buck. I too, went three of three.
Money Creek, MN