Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dad and I got going early this morning. It was 28 degrees and snowing when we headed into the woods. I left earlier than Dad because I was going to an area I haven’t hunted in this year. I knew it would take about two hours to get to the place, but something in my gut told me to go there. I’m not sure why, but I had a good feeling that I should be sitting there before daylight.

  I got to the place just as it was getting light. I didn’t cut many tracks on my way in, but I still felt good about it. Dad called me on the radio around 8:30. When I keyed it to talk to him, I noticed something moving out in front of me and a little to the left.  My eyes instantly focused on a giant 10-pointer, and he was a no-doubter. I desperately tried turning the radio off so Dad’s voice didn’t come crackling across it. The buck was only about 40 yards from me. When I looked down to turn the radio off, I lost sight of him. Holding the gun, I couldn’t locate him and began to panic. I knew he was right in front of me, but I couldn’t see him. There were all sorts of thick saplings and small spruce trees. I knew he was behind a clump of them but didn’t know exactly where he was standing. I knew he had stopped because he would have been back in the open if he had continued walking. 

  That’s when I realized the wind had changed directions, and I could feel it on the back of my head. A few seconds later, the buck raced up the ridge in front of me. When I pulled the gun up, I realized that the paper towels I had put on the scope lens were still there. I put them there to keep the snow out of it. That was probably my best opportunity to shoot the buck. I’m fairly certain that I would have put him down if I hadn’t forgotten about the paper towels. Unfortunately, I had to pull the gun down and clear the lens to see out of it. After doing that, the buck had made its way to the top of the ridge. 

  Although I could see it, I didn’t feel the least bit comfortable with the situation. I fought emotions, and in the end, my ethical side won the battle. I decided not to pull the trigger. I felt like it was way too thick, the distance would be too great, and the best shot I would have would be at his ass. 

  Tonight, I sit here writing about the experience, wishing that I had pulled the trigger. I’ve made much harder shots, and I could have easily tracked him in the snow if I had gotten a bullet into him. I’ll see that buck for as long as I live. It was the largest Adirondack buck I’ve ever seen while hunting……….and to have it a mere 40 yards from me without getting a shot will eat at my craw for the rest of my life.  The buck was a giant 10-pointer. I’ve seen enough large deer in the Midwest to be able to judge a deer in the field. It was surely a once-in-a-lifetime buck. 

  I sat until noon before heading to another area to finish off the day. The wind picked up and the blizzard-like conditions continued. It was one of the most miserable days of hunting that I can remember.  The bad weather doesn’t seem to want to let up. I made the most of it and let it be.

  As I got close to the place where I wanted to sit for the afternoon, I rested my backpack on the ground against a tree so I could get a bite to eat and a quick drink. Looking up, I saw a small buck cruising on a runway. It’s nose was on the ground and it appeared to be in hot pursuit of a doe that may have passed through a little earlier. 

  Looking the deer over, I saw that it was a nice 5-pointer. When some movement caught my eye in the direction where the buck had come from, I noticed a larger buck was also in hot pursuit of the doe. I quickly saw that the buck was an 8-pointer, and I was pretty sure it was a shooter. I centered the crosshairs on it and followed it through a couple of small openings. I hemmed and hawed about shooting it when it stopped. Finally, I chose to let it live. I could have easily shot it at 30 yards. I was hiding behind a tree and neither of the bucks had a clue that I was there. 

  When they got out of sight, I called Dad on the radio and told him they were headed toward him. Within a few minutes, they were in his lap. He was also on the edge of shooting the 8-pointer, but he let it walk too. Dad passed up another small 8-pointer this morning as well as a 6-pointer, a 4-pointer and a one-horned spikehorn. 

  It was another incredible day in the woods. I’m thinking we should have tried this area out many years ago. We overlooked it for far too long. Although we always talked about hunting there, we never made the effort to do it. I guess that shows you what can happen when you ignore the little things.  I’m also wondering if this is just a fluke, as that sometimes happens in an area when there are a few hot does running around.

  I’m guessing I’ll probably never see another buck in the Adirondacks as large at the one I saw today. It shows you what a five-second change in wind direction can do. I was that close to putting this buck on the ground. Although I can’t say for certain, I’d be willing to guess that this buck would have easily made it above and beyond the highest scoring deer I have on my wall.

  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. It’s supposed to be well below zero. The weather just won’t let up. We will see what tomorrow brings. I’d love to see Dad get a crack at a good one. If anyone deserves it this year, it’s definitely him. He hasn’t been able to hunt too much due to illness.


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