The Half-Rack Buck
The Half-Rack Buck
Many years ago, I had a camp and land I owned in the hills around Harrisonburg Louisiana. My camp sat in the middle of a 12,000 acre hunting club that consisted of creek bottoms and hardwood hills.
My sister-in-law was not a liberal as-such, she just feared guns. Her son, my nephew, was a youngster and his uncle (me) had to corrupt him in the ways of the outdoors. I bought him his first .22, shotgun (12 gage pump) and a 110 Honda 3 wheeler. Along with these items, I instilled the safety aspect of hunting and a great love of hunting, wildlife, management, and the outdoors!
When he was about 14 years old, we were at the camp for a week. The hunting was terribly slow with little or no deer movement. One rainy day I decided we would take my 4-wheel drive truck and just "ease" through the hills on the old logging roads and look for ANY deer movement. About a mile from the camp I eased the truck into a saddle on the top of the high ridge I was driving on and saw 8 deer standing farther down the draw. We eased on and rode for a while making a huge circle back to the camp.
That evening after the rain quit, we rode our 3-wheelers back to the area and snuck along the ridge to the saddle. I put my nephew on one side of the saddle and told him to stay there until I came to get him, I would hunt the other side of the ridge in the bottom bellow.
I found where a creek cut off the ends of two ridges and sat on a tree growing out of the side of a dirt bluff on one of the ridges. About 30 minutes before dark, I watched as 7 does waded the creek and slowly fed their way up the draw to the saddle. I was excited because it was doe day and my nephew was about to get his first shot.
The doe's eased out of site when I heard one deer cross the creek, climb up the bank, and step into the top of a downed oak tree. His rack was massive, body huge, and he was focusing his attention up the ridge where the doe's had gone. I watched for twenty minutes and he did not move! The light was fading, his well rubbed rack was glowing white in the fading light. I had my scope on him, watching and waiting, two steps would give me a clear shot.
As the light was almost gone, I heard a 3-wheeler crank up and watched as the doe's came running and snorting down the ridge, needless to say, the buck vanished. I was so mad I could have chewed a 200 year old oak into sawdust!
I kept my cool but chastised him severely! He had gotten scared as it got dark and when he heard a coyote howl, it was more than he could handle!
I spent the next 4 days hunting that buck! I was working in Georgia and had to leave the camp by 12: noon to get him home, then load up my wife and child and drive another 12 hours to Atlanta. I almost did not hunt that Sunday morning.
I got up and sat the tree on the bluff about daylight. I saw no deer all morning and about noon I decided to get down and head in. For the previous 15 minutes, I had heard splashing farther down the creek that sounded like wood ducks playing in the water but I had heard no squealing which was highly unusual. I decided to slip down into the creek and see what was making the noise.
Walking in the soft sand bed of the creek, I quietly slipped around a bend and saw a deer standing in a deep hole of water slashing the surface with it's head. I saw antlers and immediately raised my rifle and dropped it in it's tracks.
Excited, I ran up the creek bed, waded into the water and grabbed the buck by the rack and drug it out of the deeper water. Much to my surprise it was the BIG buck I had been hunting. The only problem was he had only one side of his rack on his head! The other side had been shot off above the brow tine!
The deer had evidently been shot in the face with a shotgun earlier in the day. One buckshot had cut through one of the deer's eye's, blinding it, he had 2 holes in one ear, and a buckshot had hit his jaw on an angle breaking both sides of it, leaving his lower jaw hanging and useless!
I guessed that the buck was trying to get water in his throat by slashing the water so hard. I was very upset that another hunter had taken such a risky shot at a deer as fine as this! Had I not been curious enough to investigate the unusual noise in the creek, this beautiful creature would have died a very slow and painful death!
Had the rack been complete, he would have had close to a 20 inch inside spread and 10 points! (This was determined by center line measurement of the existing side.)
Since that day, I have never hunted deer with a shotgun and buckshot and I wait for the best shot possible with my rifle.