Remembering to cock the hammer is as important as keeping your powder dry!
Rob Thies must’ve sounded like Troy Landry from “Swamp People,” only without the South Louisiana accent.
Instead of wrestling an angry alligator on a line, Rob and his 9-year-old son, Trey, were deer hunting in Indiana, and they were staring at huge buck just 17 yards away that was about to leave in a hurry.
Rob couldn’t understand why the boy, usually quick on the trigger, was just sitting there.
“Shoot it ... shoot it,” he urged.
It’s a good thing the deer wasn’t one to ask questions later. It stood frozen in place, cartoon eyes staring at the duo atop the ladder stand.
“Finally, I looked over and saw Trey squeezing the muzzleloader’s trigger like mad, and then I realized the hammer was not pulled back,” Rob said. “I told him to relax for a second, and then I reached over and cocked the gun.
“‘Shoot, shoot, shoot ... now,’ I told him, and then there was smoke,” he added.
It was Nov. 14, the second day of Indiana’s 2010 firearms season, and the Thies were hunting the 100-acre farm owned by the boy’s best friend’s dad. Trey had already opened the season with a bang, drilling a fat doe on opening day while he and Rob shared a stand on his grandparents’ farm near Aurora.
Had they thought to reload after Trey shot the doe, he might’ve also tagged the buck that had been several minutes behind her.
The next day, a Sunday, dawned warm and with a light drizzle. As father and son exited the truck, they realized Trey had forgotten his boots. Rather than drive the half-hour back home to retrieve them, the boy hunted in sneakers.
After settling into the double ladder stand, Rob loaded the T/C Omega and covered it to keep out the rain. The stand was a favorite of Trey’s buddy, Blaize, who called the area Buck Hill.
Blaize and his dad had seen a huge buck on a different ridge a few days earlier, so they’d offered this setup to the Thies.
Rob and Trey were wearing rain gear, but their butts were wet, which made it difficult for the boy to remain still.
“Since there were no deer in sight, I told Trey to try and get some rest,” Rob said. “While he drifted into a restless sleep, I stood and leaned against the tree for a while.
“I was facing uphill, trying to keep the rain to my back, when I heard something and saw a very big bodied deer top the ridge, heading toward the bottom. I quickly sat back down, grabbed the Thompson/Center and shook Trey,” he continued.
“What’s goin’ on, Dad?” the kid asked.
“There’s a big deer coming off the ridge. Get ready,” Rob answered, stuffing the gun against his son’s shoulder and twisting him around to face the buck.
At that instant, the deer turned and started toward them.
“It wasn’t running fast; just moving along,” Rob said. “But it wasn’t exactly presenting a good target.
“When it was at 35 yards, I gave out a quiet ‘urrrppp,’ but it kept coming. Then I did it much louder, and still it kept coming. Finally, I gave a quick and loud ‘Hey!,’ and the buck stopped and looked up at us,” he continued.
That’s when events began resembling an episode of “Swamp People,” but Rob’s quick thinking saved the day.
“Because the smoke obscured my vision, I lost track of the buck after the shot,” he said. “I told Trey to listen, and then, after what seemed like hours, I heard a very distinct crashing sound on the other side of the ridge. At that point, I was pretty sure it was dead.
“When I looked at Trey, he said, ‘Dad, I didn’t miss. I put the crosshairs right on the shoulder and was real steady when I shot.’”
Although Rob knew the rain would make following blood difficult, he and Trey remained aloft.
“I decided that since we were sharing a hunt with Blaize and his father, Dennis, we would stay in the stand until lunchtime before getting down,” he said. “I sent a text message to Dennis, letting him know we had a deer down and that we could wait until they were ready to break for lunch.”
When Dennis and Blaize arrived, the foursome spread out to look for Trey’s buck. There was no blood, but they found tracks and began following them over the ridge.
“After we’d covered about 50 or 60 yards and found no sign, I told Dennis to continue while I backtracked to see if we had missed a turn somewhere. A few minutes later, I heard Dennis exclaim, ‘Holy mackerel, Trey! Rob, get over here!’
“I rushed back over and looked down the hill to where they were pointing,” he added. “There was the deer, snagged by its antlers between two trees. If the rack hadn’t been so wide, it probably would have slid the rest of the way down the steep hill, and we might never have found it.”
Trey’s shot had clipped the top of the heart and one lung.
“I’ve waited my whole hunting life to get a buck in that close while bowhunting, but I’ve had no such luck,” Rob said.
Hunter: Trey Thies
BTR Official Score: 162 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 183 2/8
— Photos Courtesy of Rob Thies This article was published in the September 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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