Rack Magazine

If Not for the Bark’s Bite

If Not for the Bark’s Bite

By Caley Ediger

Least desirable stand yields most desirable buck!

I raced out of school, where I teach physical education, on Nov. 8, 2010, and drove to one of mine and Dad’s old deer hunting places in the sand hills of Harvey County, Kan.  I wanted to take down one of my treestands and re-hang it above some fresh scrapes on more promising ground.

The sand hills tract has been in our family for more than 100 years, but we’d never shot a big buck there.

As I neared the large pine where the stand was, I noticed a big rub and four scrapes. I also jumped a large 8-pointer from its bed about 40 yards from the setup. I was in shock that a 4x4 of that caliber was bedded so close to the stand, and it made me think twice about moving it.

Turns out, I couldn’t pry it from the tree anyway.

The following Saturday, I made it to my parents’ place about 2:30 p.m., eager to be aloft. Before I left the house, I asked Dad where he was going to hunt. He wasn’t sure because the wind was blowing out of the north, and he didn’t have a good setup for a north wind.

I suggested he go to the old pine tree at Grandpa’s place.

Around 5:00, my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. The caller ID read “Home.” I didn’t want to answer because it was prime time, so I hit the ignore button.

Two minutes later, it vibrated again. Reluctantly, I answered.

I could tell by Dad’s voice that he’d shot a deer, and when I asked how big it was, all he could muster was, “Oh boy!”

That wasn’t like him.

When I walked into the house a few minutes later, Dad was sitting on the couch with a smirk on his face. For the next 20 minutes, he shared the details of his hunt.

Dad was in the big pine by 3:45. At 4:30, he glimpsed a doe across the nearby dry creek bed. A few minutes after that, another doe and her twin fawns crossed the creek. When the little ones stopped to look back behind them, he knew something else was coming.

Seconds later, he saw a shooter buck with tall white tines.

It came in fast and chased the doe in and around the brush 80 yards from Dad. The fawns remained on a trail that passed near his tree. Eventually, the fawns and their mother followed the trail, and the buck brought up the rear.

When the buck was broadside at less than 20 yards, Dad drew his recurve and released the arrow.

I asked him how big the deer was, and he said 10 points for sure, maybe more, and that it was pushing 170 inches. He said he had difficulty forcing himself not to look at the rack.

EdigerDad thought his arrow might’ve hit a little high and farther back than he wanted, but there was a decent blood trail. Still, he didn’t want to push his luck or the buck.

We drove into town for dinner. My father usually gets three plates at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, but he could barely finish one that day. I jokingly mentioned that most of his food fell off his fork because his hand was shaking so badly.

We stopped to get batteries for our lights on the way home. When we got there, my girlfriend’s dad, Kelly, was waiting for us.

The three of us followed the blood into some CRP grass, and we came across the arrow after covering about 100 yards. The feathers were coated in red. Farther on, we found where the deer had probably fallen, which convinced us the tracking job was almost finished.

Twenty yards from there, however, the blood trail ended. Not even a hands-and-knees search resulted in another drop. And that’s when Dad decided to stop for the night.

I could see the disappointment and sadness in Dad’s eyes before he went to bed. I prayed that we’d find his deer.

I hunted the next morning, hoping my phone would buzz, but it didn’t. I joined Dad and Kelly at the house around 10:00. After lunch, we returned to Grandpa’s place to spread out and comb the entire area.

I chose to walk the north side of the property, which was the direction the buck had been traveling. Seeing nothing, I went back to ground zero and started again.

I eventually ran into Dad, who was ready to abandon the search. Dad’s first words to me were that he was going to come back Wednesday, on his day off, and look for crows.

While discussing all the buck sign we’d seen, he mentioned that I’d left one of my stands up on the north end of the block of timber. While walking to it, I happened to see what looked like a big round rock between a couple of cedars. The next time I glanced that way, the rock morphed into a deer’s rump.

From there, my eyes found long white antler tines.

I think I punched Dad three or four times in the arm, saying “There it is!”

The look on my father’s face was priceless. It was all I could do to hold back tears of happiness.

Hunter: Dave Ediger
Official Score: 165 7/8
Composite Score: 185 5/8
Recurve Bow

– Photos courtesy of Caley Ediger

This article was published in the October 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd