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A Second Chance . . . or a Third

October 28, 2006
By Andrew Dew

-- It was Saturday afternoon in October. My dad had taken a button buck and my friend had taken a doe that morning. We were doing our usual weekend hunting in Montgomery County, Georgia, on a leased 85-acre piece of property.  It was me, my dad Bill, my friend Mark and his dad Wayne and Wayne’s nephew Jordan. I was in a stand the guys call my home because I spend so much time there.  It’s a 10-foot high, four by six foot box stand that Mark built in 2005.

That’s where I was when I took my first deer, a doe, with my Winchester 12-gauge. After a very long search, my dad and I never recovered that doe. I was also in that same stand when I saw the biggest buck of my life November 12, 2005, my thirty-second birthday.  I saw him for a split second and wasn’t able to get a shot. 

Earlier in the day, Dad took his buck with his Savage .30-06.  Jordan took his deer at a hunting club about 10 minutes away with Mark’s Remington .30-06 semi-auto.  I’d purchased a .30-30 Winchester 94 from Wayne prior to the 2006 season. 

The afternoon light was fading when I saw five deer come out.  It was too difficult to see well with the iron sights to assess if the deer were legal or not.  Montgomery County antler restrictions require a buck must have at least four points on one side that measure at least one inch in length.  So I waited until they wandered off so I wouldn’t spook them while getting out of the stand.  I didn’t have my flashlight so I got down with just enough light to see where I was going and met back up with my dad.

The following weekend I knew I would be in the stand Saturday afternoon unless Dad wanted to hunt there.  Since he’d taken a deer that morning and knew how much I liked the stand, he told me to take it. I’d already told everyone how difficult it had been to get a good visual on the deer the previous weekend, so Mark told me to use his Remington with the scope. I was sure to be able to see deer well enough to have a chance at a legal deer within legal shooting hours.

 I got in the stand around 2:30 that afternoon. It was fairly warm out which it usually is in the South during the first few weeks of gun season.  I loaded the gun, and used my quad-grunter call on the doe setting. I heard the deer coming out of the woods at 6:10. As usual, I starting shaking and my heart was pounding.  Some call it buck fever, but I call it deer fever because I have the same reaction, whether it’s a buck or doe, large or small. 

A big doe was first out on the trail, followed by another doe and two yearlings.  I took off the safety, aimed and squeezed the trigger.  Nothing!  Then I noticed when I loaded the gun that I didn’t push the receiver all the way forward. The deer were 10 to 15 yards away, steadily moving toward the other side of the dirt trail to enter woods on the other side.  As quietly as I could, I pulled the receiver back and shut it all the way.  SNAP!  The deer took off running.  All I saw were white flags heading into the woods and out of sight. 

To my amazement a fifth deer was in the pack, farther behind, another doe.  I was so upset and frustrated at myself for making such a stupid mistake.  I sat there and started praying, thinking I had missed another opportunity to take a deer. I started calling again with the can and grunt call.  I kept looking at this one particular trail where the group of does from the previous year had come from.  

Lo and behold. Around 6:40, nearly 30 minutes after I’d made enough noise to frighten off the group, they had circled around and returned.  The big doe was third in line this time.  I waited until I had a clear shot and put the cross hairs right on the vitals and squeezed the trigger.  The doe dropped right there, so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to track this deer.  I was so pumped and excited. I immediately thanked God for letting me harvest such a wonderful deer.

I only waited about five minutes because I could tell the doe down for good and walked back to meet up with Dad. I thought I heard a shot near his location and asked if he had shot, but he said it was someone down the road.  He asked if I’d gotten anything, and I could not contain the smile. 

He helped me get the big doe out. It weighed in at 140 pounds.  I called my wife and two kids as soon as I got my cell phone turned on.  They were excited for me, and I was wishing that they could be there.  But whether they knew it or not they had been with me the same way they are with me everywhere I go. I’d worn an old piece of cut off sleeve from a camo shirt that my son gave me for good luck.  That night Dad reminded me this weekend—the weekend of the Florida Gators and George Bulldogs football game—was the same weekend my grandpa had taken a nice 8-point buck in Florida years earlier. It had been three years today that my grandpa had passed away on October 28, 2003, so I’d dedicated this day to him.  Who would have thought that Dad and I would both take deer on this same day?  And, to top off a great weekend, the Gators won.

Allen Dew
Jacksonville, Florida

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