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Tommy M. Cauthen • 11/25/2013 • Elmore Co , Alabama • Gun

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Imagine the patience required NOT to go to the very place you believe the buck of your dreams, the one you've skewered, has taken its last breath. Imagine setting an arbitrary 24-hour, chill-out period on the off-chance your chip shot wasn't as lethal as it should've been.

Then imagine logging into Facebook and seeing someone else's smiling face behind YOUR buck.

Mike McCabe doesn't have to imagine these things. He lived this up-and-down tale, literally UP and DOWN, last fall. But at least the paraplegic from Eaton, Ohio, finally got the buck that took him 105 sits to find in his peep sight.

He'd nicknamed this deer Stickers. It was one of two shooters his trail cameras photographed in 2012. He saw both that year, too, but one had broken off most of one of its beams, and Stickers never gave him an opportunity.

When Stickers began passing in front of trail cameras in 2013, Mike was astounded at how much more antler the deer had gained. He waited until the camera yielded daytime photos of the buck before he went after it.

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One Good Turn

When Mark Owen decided to help a fellow deer hunter get back in the game, he expected nothing in return for his kindnesses.

He certainly didn't expect to be handed the Holy Grail.

Mark sells bull semen for the artificial insemination of dairy cows, and he has customers throughout northern Ohio. While visiting with a client in June 2013, they discovered a mutual love of deer hunting, but the man - who made it clear he was a meat hunter - confessed that he wasn't very hip.

"I volunteered to see what I could do to help," Mark said.

They scouted together, and Mark brought him a couple of trail cameras. The first time he checked the units, there were hundreds of photographs of deer.

They tried some different camera setups after that. And in late July, they collected photos of a huge buck with a substantial drop tine.

"We nicknamed him Mr. Caveman because of the huge club of a drop tine," Mark said. "We even joked that he was a magazine cover deer."

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Why Randy Brown Wants His Stand Back

Nick Brown thought he'd caught a break when the buck passed behind a tree, which allowed him to draw his Mathews Drenalin. But that was before the animal stopped, forcing the 28-year-old bowhunter to hold both string and breath.

Nick wanted that deer like Democrats wanted a regime change throughout the Bush years, like the Republicans have wanted to unearth a Kenyan birth certificate ever since 2008.

He knew that Campbell County, Ky., buck with the velvety rack. He'd been watching it take shape for more than four months via trail camera photographs. That's how Nick, a firefighter from Alexandria, Ky., came to place a stand right there, overlooking the deer's regular travel corridor.

Nick and his father, Randy, have access to several farms. The one Nick hunted in 2013 was actually his dad's longtime honey hole, a little 15-acre parcel between bedding and feeding areas.

"I kind of stole it from him," Nick grinned.

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Squirrel's-Eye View

Unlike the dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies, unlike the great white shark in "Jaws," and unlike the brawls between TV's professional wrestlers (with apologies to believers), the buck whose photograph appeared on Shawn and Nikki Bechtel's trail camera in 2011 was very real.

Husband and wife - it was she who taught him how to hunt - were instantly smitten with the deer they named Bullwinkle. Shawn had more time than his wife, and he had a slight advantage because he bowhunted from treestands. Nikki, afraid of heights, always hunted from ground blinds.

Nikki's time afield was mostly during weekends, since her drive home from work didn't allow any time for late-afternoon sits.

Regardless of how much time the two of them spent waiting, separately or together, Bullwinkle never once appeared while the sun was overhead. Not in 2011; not in 2012.

Shawn would not get to hunt in 2013, and Nikki lost her enthusiasm for it.

"My husband died in January of a serious and ongoing heart condition, and I nearly gave up hunting after that," she said.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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