By Jeremy Lange
-- It was Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, when I took a vacation day to do some scouting for rifle season, which was set to start on Saturday. My plan was to sit by the river and just do some glassing of the bottoms and hills. It was a beautiful Nebraska fall morning with lots of dew on the ground, no bugs, and a little chill in the air with a slight northwest wind. The weather was perfect. I couldn't fall asleep the night before, lying in bed dreaming of the upcoming rifle season just days away.
I have been hunting this same private ground for eight years. We have seen some big bucks every year and have harvested a few with rifle, but none with bow. As you can imagine trying to get some good shuteye before the morning was impossible, and nonetheless, I woke up a little later than was originally planned. I had gotten up a little late in the past, and I know that it fails to pay very good dividends.
It never fails that I either forget a call, arrows, binoculars or another important piece of hunting equipment. As I parked my truck, I could hear the turkeys starting to wake up in the trees. I finished getting my gear bag together and debated if I should take my bow with me for the half-mile walk to the river stand. I decided to take it with me just in case. My intentions were simply to get some good binocular work in and try to pattern a few deer.
I got to the stand and spooked a couple of does and a small 4x4. Some of you down South would call it an 8-point buck. I climbed up in the stand, pulled my bow up, and realized I forgot my binoculars. I sat in the stand for about two hours and watched a few does and some smaller bucks move through the river bottoms. I was too far from the hills without binoculars to be able to tell if the deer 500 yards away were bucks or does.
Shortly before 8 a.m., I decided that I would climb down, walk back up to the truck, and get my binoculars. Then I would head up a big ravine and glass the hills for a while before going back to town for breakfast. I arrived at the truck, put my bow back in the case, grabbed the binoculars and re-sprayed myself with scent neutralizer. I walked up to the start of a big ravine, which was only about 100 yards from the truck, and started to sneak through. I walked in maybe 50 yards where there is a small plateau and a fork in the ravine; I decided that I would walk up to the plateau, which had knee-high grass and good coverage from the sun.
As I peaked at the top of the plateau, I heard a deer blow and then saw it run into the thick cedars on the side of the ravine. I stopped and thought to myself this is stupid, why spook all of these deer just days before opening rifle season. I stood there and pulled up my binoculars to take a look up the ravine scanning the area slowly, when I spotted what looked like an antler just 80 yards away at the end of the plateau in the grass.
I pulled down the binoculars and looked at the grass where I seen the antler, and I saw the left side of the rack and a big body. I could not believe what I was seeing, so I took another look in the binoculars and there was the buck lying there not moving. I was trying to see if it was breathing or not by looking at the left side of its rib cage. I walked toward the buck and got about 20 yards away when it turned around to take a look at me over its shoulder. I immediately put my head down, not wanting to make eye contact, and started to shake like a leaf on a tree. I couldn't help but to keep peeking at the deer from under my cap.
I decided to try and slowly and quietly back out the same way I came and go get my bow. To those of you that have been trying to sneak through the woods before, you know where I'm coming from when I say that. I sounded like a herd of buffalo running through the trees. I never did look back, and when I got to the bottom of the plateau into the big ravine out of the buck's sight, I quickly walked out and then proceeded to run to the truck. When I got back to the truck I fumbled with the bow trying to get it out of the case. I grabbed my bow, quiver, and attached the release to the string while heading back to the ravine. When I got back to the base of the plateau before climbing up the side, I slid an arrow out of the quiver and held it in the opposite hand. I reached the top of the plateau, and to my amazement, the buck hadn't moved one bit.
I got within 30 yards of the buck when I notched the arrow and proceeded to stalk up to it a little closer. This would be the first time I had a chance to draw back on a buck. I got to 15 yards away and I felt very comfortable with a shot from this distance. I pulled back the bow and held it at full draw, then quietly whistled. The buck stood up, gave me a broadside angle, and I squeezed the trigger on my release. The next thing that I can recall was watching the buck run at an angle back toward me with what looked like a red faucet coming out of its left side.
The buck ran down the plateau and started up the opposite side of the ravine and then collapsed only about 50 yards away. I kept thinking to myself there was no way that just happened! I waited about 20 minutes and walked out of the ravine back to my truck. When I got back to my truck, I tried calling my brother to tell him what just happened, and that I was going to need help. I could not get a hold of him so I called my uncle and told him what had just happened, and he just said I'll meet you at your house.
I was on cloud nine! We loaded the buck up, checked it in and a friend of mine who is a taxidermist caped him out and did a European Mount.
Thank you for allowing me to share my once in a lifetime buck.
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