|Gary's Hunting - Adult Years
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2007 Spring & 2007 Fall Hunting Seasons
Me (Gary) above left with a big Tom that came into my call the second Saturday of
the season. To the right a nice 8 pointer I took with my bow. In 2007 as in all past
years I was a non-user of an ATV and this one was way...way back in the woods.
After a experiencing a severe herniated disk , I am considering using an ATV in the
2006 Spring & 2006 Fall Hunting Seasons
My dad ,Walter, and I proudly showing off a pair of huge mature Toms taken on opening day. It was dad's first
turkey and the largest bird I have ever seen taken by any hunter. My father has since become hooked. Both
turkeys were shot with #6's to the head. To the right is a hefty 9 pointer I took on opening day of the
traditional gun season in Virginia. Shot distance estimate was at 45 yards.
2005 Spring & 2005 Fall Hunting Seasons (Fishing season too!)
Above left is the scrawniest turkey I have ever taken. Turkeys were few and far between and I wasn't
going to pass up even the smallest of them. It never gobbled but did head straight for the decoys where it
was pulled down with a load of #6's with my newly purchased Benelli. In the middle is an 8 pointer I
took with my muzzleloader at about 40 yards on opening day. My buddy Joe hunted with me that day, but
Joe was already out of the woods and back in bed before I even pulled the trigger on this one at 10:36
AM. To the right, a fantastic blast and cast day. It doesn't get much better than that for a combined
hunting/fishing day of activities.
2004 Spring & 2004 Fall Hunting Seasons
On the left, a nice fat Tom came in to my call and decoys. To the right are two photos of
the same deer - a 6 pointer taken with my 30-06 Remington Woodmaster at about 75
yards late one evening. I thought I was shooting an 8 pointer, but it turned out that it
didn't have the typical brow tines. It was a very nice 6 pointer just the same.
To the left, perhaps my biggest tom ever. I didn't have it weighed, but from past observations and of other
turkeys taken, it no doubt fell well over the 20lb range. I initially set up in one location early one morning,
using decoys and a steady yelping. Having no response to his calling, I left my decoys in place and started
walking the next ridge . By late morning I returned to my original starting point, I found that a big Tom had
attacked one of myJake decoys and tore it to pieces. After about 20 minutes of calling, the Tom returned to
the scene to perhaps lay some more punishment on the Jake and I took it with a load of #6's.
In the middle photo, a nice 8 pointer that bedded down about 65 yards away just over a noll while I was on
my stand. All I could see were the deer's antlers & nose moving from time to time as the deer lay bedded.
After waiting an eternity I got out my grunt call and it accidentally banged against my gun which caused the
buck to stand up. I fired and smoke bellowed out of my muzzleloader. As the smoke cleared , I could see
two deer running through the woods. I got off my stand thinking I had missed, but found my deer laying just
where he was standing when I pulled the trigger. I looked down and saw three deer beds next to each
other. I never knew the other two were there.
The deer on the right is a 6 pointer I took one evening as it was running through a field at roughly 125
yards away. My first shot at the stretched-out deer hit the deer's left antler just below the brow beam,
causing a clean break. My second shot (with my Remington 30-06) was true through the lungs. I found the
deer's left side of its rack laying in the field.
Left photos are of my Spring turkey - taken very late in the morning on the second day of Spring Gobbler
Season. I had already hunted the spot earlier in the morning, moved on to other spots and returned to my
starting spot one last time before giving up for the day. To the right, a nice 10 pointer, my second 10
pointer in a three year period. The 10 pointer was taken the day after Thanksgiving at about 65 yards as
it was chasing two does through a field late in the evening.
2002 Spring & 2002 Fall Hunting Seasons
2003 Spring & 2003 Fall Hunting Seasons
2001 Winter, Spring & Fall Hunting Seasons
2000 Spring and 2000 Fall Hunting Seasons
1999 Spring and 1999 Fall Hunting Seasons
1998 Fall Hunting Seasons
2001 was a fantastic hunting year. Big game included a bob cat, 2 spring turkeys, an 8 pointer and 1 fall turkey.
Top left is a huge bobcat I took with my muzzleloader on the very first day of the season. The second photo was
taken while the cat was still at the taxidermist who by the way, told me he had to use the largest bobcat mold
available to mount the cat. I took the male grouse that the cat is jumping for on the very last day of grouse
season. The mid photo is a nice Tom I took with my over and under 12 guage/223 rifle. Bottom left is a fat 8
pointer I took with my muzzleloader which was chasing a doe. The deer was taken at about 90 yards at 9:50
am, after pausing to investigate a loud grunt I made with my grunt caller. This was the second consecutive deer
took (check out 10 pointer in 2000) I took with an unusually long shot using a muzzleloader. The very next day
after I took the 8 pointer, I watched another 8 pointer from my cabin bathroom window (have him on video). In
2001, you can only take one buck with your muzzleloader during early black powder season in Virginia so I
simply shot him with the camera. Bottom right is a fall turkey I took just off the roost.
1997 Fall Hunting Season
1996 Fall Hunting Season
Above left, I am holding my very first Gobbler. The long beard came in very early in the morning with
another gobbler walking with him stride for stride. I waited patiently for the two to separate before pulling
the trigger, dropping the bird with a load of #6's to the neck and head. The exact same situation took place
the following Spring. I took the gobbler to a taxidermist who took the plumage out and gave it to my wife
Gina and then mounted the bird in a attractive flying mount. The bird now permanently resides at my
To the right the second consecutive 8 pointer I took. This one came in grunting right behind a doe that was
keeping about a 30 yard gap between herself and the old buck.
I didn't do any Spring hunting in 1998 and this fall was my first year deer hunting at my cabin in Carroll county
Virginia. I took this 8 pointer 2 days before Thanksgiving late in the morning, while hunting from my portable
tree stand on top of a ridge loaded with hardwoods. The deer was trotting through the woods and was only about
25 yards away when I pulled the trigger on my Savage over & under 30-30 / 12 gauge combo. One shot through
the shoulder with the 30-30 brought the deer down.
To the right, I am holding my very first Turkey. Although it was only a hen, this bird sparked my interest in turkey
hunting which led to my very first Spring hunt the following year (1999).
Above, me with two 6 pointers I took in back to back hunting seasons from the Axton, Virginia area. The deer
were shot on the same land where I hunted quail and other small game with his father when I was a boy. After I
purchased my cabin and land in Carroll county, Virgina I haven't been back to the Axton area much, due to the
land being timbered. However, I plan to do more hunting there in the upcoming seasons (perhaps in another 10
years or so) as more growth occurs.
To the left, me with my first grouse, taken in Highland County, Virginia. Since I purchased my cabin and land in
Carroll County Virginia in 1997, I have taken a grouse or two most years. The middle photos are me getting ready
set his portable tree stand up to hunt for deer in a good snow. To the right is a typical scene of me getting my
hunting gear ready inside the cabin for one of my many hunts.
|Click pictures below to see enlarged image.
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2008 Bow Season 1st day and last day of season are productive
Gary and his dad with Gary's buck taken on opening morning of bow season. On opening
morning of bow season, a doe walked right under my stand and headed out to a field about 40
yards away to graze. After about 20 minutes of grazing the doe came bounding back into the
woods, seeking safety (ironically stopping directly under my stand again). She was looking over
her shoulder and I felt certain either another deer (hopefully a buck) or hunter spooked her. Sure
enough, the buck came dashing into the woods and at a full trot right for the doe which took off
again. I counted three tines on the left side of the rack and released my arrow. It was a clean
kill as the deer ran only about 25 yards and dropped. The story didn't end there. Within 30
seconds after I connected with the buck. A very nice 8 pointer with a better than average spread
(I saw and counted all 8 tines - 4 symmetrical on each side) stepped into perfect view just yards
away and stood broadside as to be teasing. As much as I wanted to release another arrow, I bit
my lip and held back. I had one already down and that was that. My dad, Walter, drove up to
help me skin out the buck and take it to the butcher. My dad and I have been skinning deer
together for decades and we look forward to it year after year.
The photo to the right is another 6 pointer I took on the last day of the regular bow season in
2008. Though its a small rack, it will provide good tasting venison promised to a couple of
friends. My good fortune on the first and last day of season enabled me to extend my
consecutive seasons of taking a 6 point or better, each year.
2009 Black Powder Season- Gary and his dad Walter with The BEAR deer
THE BEAR DEER...PART I
The 2009 season wasn't one of my most productive in terms of harvesting a nice rack. But the excitement made up
for it. One Sunday morning during Black Powder deer season I decided to take a remote walk up a mountain that
sees very little human activity. It's steep and its thick with mountain Laurel. The night before we received heavy
rains and the morning was wet, damp and foggy but with an eerie silence that dampness brings to the woods. As I
was walking up the mountain, I noticed on the small trail there appeared to be human foot indentions in the
leaves. I thought to myself, isn't that just swell, I'm after a solitude type environment and I have a fellow outdoors
man who has beat me to the punch. As I moved up the trail, the footprints seemed a bit odd and I pushed some
leaves aside to get a better look at the impressions in the dirt, but the trail was had a base of stone. The track
seemed a bit short and wide to be a person and then it dawned on me it had to be a bear. Wow, I thought, a bear
had walked up this trail only hours before me. Long story short, I topped the mountain, took a few steps toward the
middle of the small flat ridge and caught a glimpse of something through the heavy fog. There in front of me no
more than 30 yards was a hefty size black bear. Just standing on all fours staring at me. I was thrilled, I had my
backpack on and just as I was to grab my camera, I remembered that I didn't bring it on this particular hike. Oh
well, I'll just have to take a mental note and enjoy the moment while it lasted. My initial impressions of wow, neat,
cool etc. only took about 20 seconds to evolve into thoughts of Hmmm! ,this isn't quite right, what's wrong with
that bear. All bears I have previously seen in the area, scampered away soon after spotting me. This one just
stood and stared at me. Being Sunday, I wasn't hunting so I didn't have a firearm of any sort with me. Not even a
protective pistol. I thought, maybe this bear is having a hard time seeing me as the fog is rather thick. So I yelled
"get out of here" as I wildly waved my arms over my head. No movement from the bear...just a cold stare. It was
at this point in time, I convinced myself that I had encountered what I deemed as an "aggressive bear". Was he
coming at me - no. But he sure wasn't frightened which should have been his reaction. My heart started racing, I
wasn't about to turn and walk away broadcasting messages of being submissive and passive. My instincts were
telling me I needed to hold my ground and if the bear sensed fear he was going to make a move fast and I was
convinced that move wasn't going to be heading away from me. OK, I have to do something quickly before the
bear deems its time to do something. I raised my leg in a marching formation and stomped the ground as hard as I
could and yelled to the top of my voice "Go on ...get!" I'll never forget that bear's reaction as long as I live. He
slowly and casually turned his head to his right and just as slowly turned it right back at me in that cold stare. My
mind was racing in terms of what to do next. Do I make a short mock charge at the bear with arms waving wildly.
Do I go start backing up slowly while keeping my eyes locked on the bear? Surely I don't turn my back and start
walking away or running away. I still had not made up my mind when the bear turned slowly and starting walking
away from me in a slow trot. Perhaps it was a foolish decision but I stayed on that mountain top that morning to
finish my hike and exploration. Granted every dark stump I saw was a bear and the thought of that bear did not
depart out of my mind for not even a few seconds the rest of that morning.
THE BEAR DEER...PART II
A couple of days later, at the base of the mountain that I had met my bear, I took the young buck shown in the
photo above. I drug the deer about a 100 yards to the ATV I had parked and tucked away against a laurel bush and
drug the deer out. I normally hang my deer right next to my cabin steps (see other photos below of past deer taken
and hung). If the weather is cool (in the mid to lower 40's or even below) I like to let the deer age a few days. The
buck had been hanging a couple of days and my wife and I were in the cabin late one evening and had just started
watching a movie around 11pm. We agreed we'd watch the first hour of it and hit the sack and continue watching
the video the next evening. No more than 10 minutes into the movie I heard a tremendous "thud"/"crashing and
banging" sound outside. My reaction was to turn to my wife in a puzzled look and say "What the Hell?"
I jumped to my feet looked out the window and noticed my motion sensor spotlight was on. I quickly glanced
toward my deer and well...it wasn't there. In a startled and confused tone, I proclaimed to my wife "my deer is
gone! ?" I then headed out my front door onto the porch to get a better grasp of what had happened and as I looked
toward where my deer "should have been hanging" I quickly noticed that not only my deer was gone, but the two
inch thick metal pole it was hung on was missing too! As I opened the screen porch door, I glanced down and saw
the pole had been snapped near the base (I'm pointing at the demolished pole in the photo above) and it was
laying in my yard . Then something caught my eye. Our driveway and a private dirt/gravel road run right in front of
my cabin. Well, caught in the spotlight there was my bear friend dragging my buck away right down the middle of
that dirt/gravel road. I took off down my steps and into the front yard and before I could even yell at the bear, he
saw me and dropped the deer and high-tailed it up the mountain behind my cabin through the dense mountain
laurel. I grabbed my black powder rifle, gave it to my wife to hold and told her I'm going after my deer, if that crazy
bear charges me, pull the hammer back and shoot at him. Fortunately for me, the bear did not reappear. I don't
think my wife would have been a threat if that bear had come back for his dinner, so in afterthought, that may not
have been the wisest move that evening. Oh well, it worked out. He fortunately didn't maul the deer at all. I
noticed my Hang 'Em High hoist system was laying in the yard and I had assumed it was destroyed. To my surprise
and delight, I tested it the next day and somehow someway, the hoisting system came out unscathed, although I
had to purchase a new metal pole. It must have taken a great deal of courage for that bear to make that move, as
he could assuredly hear the tv though our cabin walls where my wife and I were sitting and chatting no more than
10 yards from where he was standing (thankfully a thick cabin wall separated us). I spend a great deal of time in
the woods pre-scouting before the deer season opens. Next year, I think I may just have to look into doing a little
bear scouting....we shall see.
2010 Spring Gobblers # 1 & #2 and Black Powder Bucks #1 & #2
For the 2010 season I used a new turkey gun set-up (click here to see details). I fired the gun twice in the
field to bring home two fine gobblers that dropped in their tracks. Did I say I love my new Benelli? Deer
hunting was not the best in the Va mountains in 2010. The winter of 2009 killed off approximately 35% of
the herd according to a number of sources (hunters, meat packers, taxidermists, etc.). I took the 8 pointer
late one afternoon in Nov after a very hard downpour earlier in the day. My father, Walter, at nearly 80
years of age and in better shape than many men half his age, helped me drag him out...much appreciated
dad! Black Powder Buck number two (far right) was taken Dec 29th, 2010. Just days before the season
ended. I believe this one was the latest in the season I've ever taken one. Well, 2010 was good, I hope in
2011 I'll be as fortunate!
|Want to make your deer hunting more enjoyable? More
challenging? Have you established your personal
hunting goals and started tracking your success?
Scroll Below and Learn More
If you want to sharpen your hunting skills and see improvement, I suggest you challenge yourself.
Set personally hard to achieve goals in the field and don’t bend your convictions. In the mid 1990’s I
thought to myself, deer hunting just isn’t quite as enjoyable as it was when I started out as a boy and
I had to ask myself why is that so? The answer became obvious to me. It was no longer much of a
challenge. In the 80’s, I would go hunting opening week and easily take my buck in the first few days
without exception. Deer were just getting downright plentiful in the counties I hunted at the time
which included Highland and Henry County.
I noticed I wasn’t as thrilled with my hunt after downing a spike or even deer along the lines of a four
or five pointer. What’s the saying….”the thrill is gone”. Well I wanted the thrill of the hunt back so
I set personal goals. In 1996, I told myself from this year going forward, I will only shoot 6 plus point
bucks and I referred to them as my “goal” bucks. My hunting seasons became longer, I started
watching and observing more and more deer. Granted the first few bucks that I let walk by without
shooting was initially painful to do. But soon, I was astonished at how many bucks I would see each
year. Over the last twenty years, I have learned more about deer behavior by being selective than I
would have learned in a lifetime of hunting and shooting anything that comes my way.
So start taking notes and records of your hunts. I go a step further and keep all my antler sets. Set
some personal goals and stick to them and like a fine wine, you’ll see improvement over time. In 4
of my last 8 years I took not one but two goal bucks each year. Also, since keeping records in 1996,
I have maintained without exception a cumulative average of 1 (or more) goal bucks per year. For
me personally, if any given year my cumulative average for goal bucks ever drops below 1, I will likely
interpret that as a calling for me to retire from hunting.
No doubt some of you do this already and I suspect there are some of you who have set your bar
higher than I have. That’s the fun of it. We all know what a challenge is to us personally and this will
differ from individual to individual. Simply reflect on it. Set your goal and don’t waiver or start
settling for less.
I guarantee you will ultimately make each season more fun and improve your hunting skills beyond
the average Joe Blow who walks into the woods, takes whatever he sees come along first and is soon
done for the season. For fun, keep historical records including pics, videos and a brief summary story
regarding the taking of your game. Happy Hunting.
2011 Spring Gobbler
Well all streaks eventually come to an end. I let my "goal" buck slip by this year. I saw 7 bucks in
2011 with only one stirring my interest. I got a shot at that one. Not the type of shot I was hoping
for. I wished I could say I missed him cleanly, but I didn't. I connected and tracked blood until I
lost the trail. It was the first deer in which my shot was misplaced in many, many years - but it
happens. All hunters will have from time to time a frustrating hunt. Despite this disappointing
deer season, I still maintained my ongoing average of at least one 6pt+ buck per season since
1996 (thanks to several 2 buck seasons). Oh! I did bag my spring gobbler.
2012 7 Pt Henry Co Deer
2012 6 Pt Carroll Co Deer
Following a disappointing 2011 deer season (read below), 2012 was much better to me. On
opening day of black powder Season, it was late morning, with the wind picking up considerably. I
finally saw the rascal walk out of some pines into a small strip of hardwoods approximately 50
yards from me. I pulled the trigger and he took off. I was relieved to find him about 40 yards from
where he was standing when I pulled the trigger. My second deer, a 6 pointer, was taken with my
black power rifle as well. This time it was the "late 2nd season" of black powder hunting. The
ground was half covered with snow and he was grazing for food late in the afternoon. I was still
hunting from the ground on this day which I don't do very often.
2013 Spring Gobbler
Carroll Co. Buck
|2013 9pt. Carroll Co. Buck
2013 was a very good year to me. I called my Gobbler in late one May morning. He was rushing to
beat two other gobblers in to my decoys. On opening Saturday of black powder season, it was late
morning, I had not seen a thing. Though through the mountains it sounded like I was in a war zone.
I thought...now how can that be. Deer must be everywhere and chose the one lousy spot. It was
approaching 10:30 am and I happened to turn around in my tree stand and there he stood about 70
yards away. I made a clean shot on the 6 pointer.
I took the 9 pointer exactly one week later, with only about 30 minutes of light left to hunt. He was
following a doe. No less than 175 yards away. I raised up, put my sights a short distance over his
back and squeezed a shot off. It was a clean miss. He spun around and stood there. I knew I had
not adjusted enough for the velocity drop. I wasn't shooting a high caliber rifle, but an a modern
day muzzle loader fully capable of bringing him down at that range. After fidgeting around a while,
I got the rifle loaded a second time. If we had not been separated by such a long distance, he
would have spotted me for sure, but that wasn't the case. It felt like a full 5 minutes had passed,
but surely it was quicker. For my second shot, I held higher in blue sky over his back, pulled the
trigger and brought him down.
2014 6pt Opening Day Black Powder Buck
2015 Opening Day Spring Gobbler Season
It was early in the spring Gobbler Season of 2014 I was hunting on my land in Carroll county. I had
set up a camera on a tri-pod and was determined to get my hunt on film. I was sitting in a small
tent blind and had 3 decoys sitting about 20 yards away upon which my camera was focused upon
perfectly. For the heck of it, I sat up a decoy behind my tent, just in that rare case one approaches
from the less desirable terrain behind me. After lots of calling throughout the morning, nothing
...not a peep. It was mid morning and time for a snack. I dug deep into my backpack to find a
granola bar and as I was unwrapping it I cast a glance behind me out of my back window and
couldn't believe my eyes. A huge tom was in full strut in front of that one lone hen decoy. I had
two problems. First, to get a shot I would need to turn my whole body - something you just can't
do and expect to get a shot - if you have wide open tent windows and a turkey a stones throw away
and secondly, I had recently had problems with my hearing and had made a promise to myself I
wouldn't shoot my gun without ear muffs. The big tom started to walk away slowly and placed
itself between me and big oak. That was my opportunity, I quickly turnaround, grabbed my ear
muffs put them on and raised my gun, just waiting for that big boy to step outside of the path in
which the big oak was blocking my view. I waited and waited and waited. He had vanished. I
couldn't believe it. I was somewhat frustrated. But I couldn't make up my mind if he had seen me
or not. So I finished my mid morning snack and started calling. Wouldn't you know within 5
minutes here he comes back again and in full strut. This time I'm all set. Just as he approached
my hen, I pulled the trigger. It turned out to be one of the biggest toms (if not the biggest) I had
With my camera faced in the wrong direction, I didn't get the hunt on film....but I did get some film
right after bringing him down. Some day when I find the time, I'm going to put that clip and many
others on this site.
The 2014 deer season was a year in which I did limited hunting. But what hunting I did do went
smoothly...well sort of.
It was opening day of Black Powder season and I was hunting on my land in Carroll county Va.
By mid morning from my tree stand I had not seen a thing. I happened to turn around and behind
me on a knoll was a buck with a rack. I glassed it with my scope and could see it was at least a 6
pointer. It was roughly 75 yards away and headed my way. Then it stopped, turned around and
was heading back up the knoll. In about two more steps it would be heading down the knoll on the
other side and out of sight. Not the shot I preferred, but I took it. Pulling the trigger, the gun kicked
back and the scope caught my nose just right. I was bleeding profusely. I climbed down my stand
and tried to stop the bleeding. Blood was every. On my coat, on my gun on my tree stand. I
thought to myself, I can't go tracking that deer now, I wont' know which is his blood and which is
mine. It just wouldn't stop bleeding. After it slowed quite a bit, I headed to the knoll to find my
deer. When I crest it and looked on the other side, to my surprise he wasn't there. That was
disappointing. I thought I had made a good shot. I then walked about 75 yards through the woods
and just before the flat area was to take a turn to head steep down a mountain, I saw him standing
broad side to me. The second time this has happened, I had not reloaded. So I just stood there
staring at the deer and he stood there for what was an eternity. I decided to pull my cell phone off
of my belt to snap a pic and when I made the motion he simply took some fast steps and headed
down the other side of the mountain. By the time I got to the edge of the flat area, he was gone
again. I looked down the mountain and no deer. It was getting hot and I was dressed in layers and
sweating like a pig. I had enough, my nose was still bleeding. I decided to go back to my tree
stand, collect my gear and head to the cabin. After all that time had passed my nose was still
bleeding when I entered the cabin, as I left a trail of blood from the door way to the bathroom.
Anyway, I finally got my bleeding under control. I stripped down to jeans and a flannel shirt and
headed back to look for my deer. I made a grid and starting walking it as I was determined not to
loose the deer. It took over 45 minutes of searching but I found the rascal, he had left the woods
on the mountain entirely and had died in a field of briers. Gina wasn't at the cabin so once I had
him on the "meat pole" I snapped a picture and also snapped a "selfie".
2014 Opening Day Spring Gobbler Season
On the left is the jake I took on opening day of the Spring Gobbler season. Two jakes came in side by
side and I almost never got them to separate for a clean shot. Finally one scooted about 3 to 4 feet to
the right of the other and I took the one to the far right and the other took off flying. This was the
second year in a row that I had to deal with two Toms coming in to my call together step by step and had
to patiently wait until I could takeone without harming the other.
The middle photos are of my nicest deer thus far. This is a big 10 pointer that I took with my Thompson
Center muzzleloader. At the time I was using TC's Black Diamond with a 3 x 9 variable scope. I was on
one mountain ridge when I spotted two palomino deer (not quite albino) across the ridge from me. I had
seen the two deer before and simply raised my gun to view them out and into my scope-view stepped
this 10 pointer!! It was mid- afternoon, with a strong wind and I had only one bullet with me and that
was the one in my gun. After all, I was only going to be out for a few minutes to place a stand in the
woods for the late afternoon hunt – little did I know what was about to happen. I always recalled the
box TC was shipped in had huge bold letters promoting the gun was "Lethal at 200 yards". I estimated
the distance between mountain ridge I was on and the one the 10 pointer was standing on to be at least
210 yards, easily more. I knew I would not have an issue with sighting left to right on the deer, but had
to take my best estimate on how high to hold. It’s hard to know for sure, but I recall holding at least 3
to 4 feet over the back of the 10 pointer. I recalled placing the cross hairs on his shoulders then slowly
raising the gun up to 4 feet above his back line, then pulling back on his shoulder and repeating. It was
hard to convince myself to shoot at thin air with the deer not actually in the scope, but I knew that was
my only alternative ....or not shoot at all. I repeated the sequence one more time and raised the cross
hairs in thin air over his back and pulled the trigger. Smoke bellowed out and I didn't see a single deer.
My first instinct was to reload...but with what? I had nothing with me. I walked down the mountain and
started up the next mountain toward where I had pulled the trigger on the 10 pointer. As I was climbing
the pasture land, I looked up and there he stood broadside to me about 35 yards away and he was
staring in the distance, not even noticing I was there. With an empty gun in hand, I just stared at him.
He slowly turned away and started walking up the mountain out of the pasture land into the tree line. I
couldn't believe it! How disappointing, my heart sank to my stomach. I had missed my shot and then
had a fantastic second chance but no ammo. Saying that I was upset with myself was an
understatement. I gave the buck a few minutes to make his way into the woods and then I headed up to
where he entered, hoping and praying I would see blood.....but found nothing. The big boy didn't look
that spooked so I made my mind up that I would spend the rest of the evening on the ridge he had just
climbed with hopes he would venture back into shooting range. I raced to my cabin which was less than
a 1/2 mile away, got my flashlight and some powder and bullets, loaded up and drove back to the
general area where the big buck entered the woods. I looked for blood again, still nothing. As I started
up the mountain, I remembered I had left my flashlight in my truck and I wasn't planning to come out of
those woods until dark so I headed back down the hill to my truck, got my light and once again headed
back up the mountain. As I was approaching the tree-line, I cast one last casual glance down at the
ground in the general area I had last watched the buck and I saw a speck of blood. I immediately took
off my hat to mark the spot and started crawling around looking for more. I saw another drop or two,
then more, then I entered the woods and saw a large pool of blood where he had obviously laid down.
My heart was racing. I knew I had some orange tape in the seat of my truck to mark the blood trail. I
started out of the woods and into the field toward my truck, but as I popped into the open field I looked
in front of me and there he laid. I thanked the good Lord repeatedly as I counted the points. I had to
just shake my head at how fortunate I had been to connect with the buck at that distance. Every hunter,
if he's hunted enough years has made some shots (whether at dove, turkey, duck, deer or what have
you) that he or she will remember and reflect on for a lifetime. For me, that has to be my personal
favorite. What an emotional roll-a-coaster as well. From feeling sick and frustrated, particularly after
the deer was standing broadside to me at 35 yards ....and standing there helpless with an empty
firearm. Of course at the time, I didn't know that my bullet had passed clear through him about 2 inches
below his heart. The deer didn't even know he had been hit. I suspect when he was standing there his
blood pressure was dropping and he must have just felt queasy. Then 30 minutes later, I have the rack
in hand that earlier I had felt certain I'd missed. I was smiling all week. To the right is a fall hen that I
took and gave to some great neighbors of mine....Chuck and Diane who later had it for Thanksgiving.
2015 6pt Buck
I'll write up the The how's and when's and where's behind the 2015 season
sometime .....soon at least before Spring 2016 Turkey season, anyway!
I hunted fewer than 7 days in 2015 - and only saw only 3 bucks including 1 spike,
a 4 pointer and the 6 pointer I took above.
Hopefully, 2016 I'll get more hunting time in.
Thanks for visiting...Gary
*Note: 2012 earlier listed as 6 & 6 which has been corrected to 7 & 6 after reviewing & confirming pics, write-up, game tag most importantly my antlers
labeled from 2012.