A bird’s-eye view isn’t necessary to pay a taxidermist
Prior to last November, Chris Denniston had little use for and practically no confidence in pop-up blinds. Satisfied with climbing stands, the 33-year-old construction shop foreman and raiser of beagles would’ve never bought one of the tent-like contraptions for himself.
But what was he supposed to do when his dear mother gave him one for Christmas? Sell it in a yard sale? Give it to his 5-year-old son or 9-year-old daughter to use for a backyard camporee?
He might’ve handed it off to his brother, whose busted hip kept him out of treestands, but their mom bought him one, too.
When Chris went deer hunting on his grandfather’s Harrison County farm on a cold Nov. 14, opening Saturday of Kentucky’s 2010 rifle season, he took his climber. The tract is just a couple of miles from his Cynthiana home.
His father and uncle hunted there as well that day.
Chris saw four small bucks and as many does that morning. He couldn’t hunt the afternoon because his daughter Madelynn’s school was having its fall festival.
Before leaving his Papaw’s farm, he set up his Christmas present just in case one of his kids or his wife wanted to accompany him in the couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, when the final bell sounds for firearms season.
The next morning, although he was alone again, he decided to christen the blind. Before that day, he’d never sat inside one. He knew the persistent below-freezing wind would be blowing in his face.
Two hours later, Chris saw the first and only deer he would see that day when a buck wafted out of some cedars, jumped a fence and began slinking across the grassy field less than 100 yards in front of him.
The deer was acting as if it knew being in the wide open was a mistake. It wanted nothing more than to be on the other side of the field, which dropped off into a deep hollow. So it was moving quickly, tail tucked, but not flat-out running.
At first, Chris thought it was one of the two large bucks he and his kids had spotted the previous week while checking on cows. One of those wore a tall and narrow rack; the other’s was shorter and wider. They were the reason he’d gone to that corner of the property.
But this rascal was wide and tall, which meant it was a different buck. Regardless, it was a dead deer walking.
“I tried to whistle to stop it, but it kept going. So I swung out in front of the buck and waited for it to come into my crosshairs,” he said.
After the shot, Chris immediately crawled out of the blind in order to stand up and keep an eye on the fallen animal’s distant white belly. He watched it for 15 minutes, ready to shoot again if it rose from the dead.
When Chris reached the deer, which had collapsed in the field it was trying to cross, no more than 10 feet from where the bullet struck it, he was speechless. A hundred yards closer than when he first saw them, the antlers were far larger than he thought. He set his 7mm Mag on the ground and paced like a man waiting for news from the maternity ward.
“A thousand things were going through my mind,” he said.
The first call was to Mandy, his wife, who knew from his hyperventilating that her husband wasn’t joking. Afterward, he called his Papaw Bobby for assistance.
“Papaw had just finished feeding cattle,” he added.
The buck is a 20-inch-wide mainframe 6x6, boosted by eight irregular points totaling 19 inches. The 20-pointer’s BTR composite score is 202 3/8 (official 182 3/8).
“I’d never seen that deer before that day, and I’m there almost every day from September through November,” he said. “Nobody had. Nobody was talking about it.”
This is his first deer mount.
“I always figured if I was going to spend the money to have one mounted, it would have to be a good one. It would have to be THE ONE,” he said, adding that his best prior to this one was an 18-inch-wide 8-pointer.
Usually, the antlers of the deer he takes or the sheds he and his kids find wind up in one of the many piles at their home.
Chris isn’t ready to trade his climbing stands for more pop-up blinds, but he’s gained a new respect for them.
“I can’t hear as well in them,” he says. “I prefer to be up a tree, but I’m sure glad I was sitting in one that day.”
Official Score: 182 /3/8
Composite Score: 202 3/8
– Photos Courtesy of Chris Denniston
This article was published in the October 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.