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A (Very) Little Vacation Time

Photo courtesy of John Moore

Two points sprout from the forehead of the author's buck, summoning the look of the mythical unicorn

Story and photo by John Moore

Getting time off from work is not easy for me, so, in deer season, I often take a partial vacation day – two hours – so I can go hunting.

Three years ago, on such an occasion, I left the office at 12:30. This gave me four hours to get to my family’s hunting spot in central Ohio and sit the afternoon. When I arrived, I found my brother, Doug, sitting in a small clump of grass in the middle of a clover field. It was a good spot to see deer crossing. He motioned me over, so I slid my hunting clothes on and cautiously moved toward him. We whispered back and forth about the deer he had seen.

Doug explained that our father was over the hill from us. About that time, a shot came from that direction. We waited a while, then we heard dad yell for us. Doug went to check, and I stayed put in case any deer would come out.

I kept hearing noise from the tree line about 50 yards behind me, so I turned to face it. Three does came out to the field. As they went by, I heard yet another commotion back in the woods. I waited, but suddenly it was there. I couldn’t tell much about the size of the rack until the buck looked sideways. Then I knew it was a real trophy.

The deer looked out at the does from the tree line, reluctant to come to the field. It finally stepped out and looked right at me. I took my shot and missed! I was sick. I just wasn’t prepared for a big buck like that.

A year later, I pulled the same trick and took a partial vacation day. When I got to the hunting ground, we stood at the trucks and discussed where would hunt, but I already knew where I was going. It was a small flat on the side of a hill, at the top of the valley where the big buck came out the year before. I would have a good look at whatever was coming up on me.

I sat there for 30 minutes and then saw a small 6-point buck moving up the hill. Since my miss, I had purchased a cantilever barrel and scope for my 12 gauge. I glassed the buck. Suddenly, I heard something behind me. When I turned, I saw an 8-pointer with a wide rack. I moved to get a shot, but it spotted me and ran down the hill. It was at full stride by the time I could get my scope on it. I finally dropped it at 75 yards. What a deer!

Later that season, my brother shot an even better one than mine, but there was still no sign of the really big buck.

Last year, I decided to sit on a rock around the point of the hill. Everybody else got vacation time granted before me, so once again I could only get a partial vacation day on Nov. 29, 2004. When I got there, my brother, cousin and dad were all getting ready to hunt. My brother was smiling big. I saw why when I looked in the bed of his truck: a 12-point buck was in it. We talked for a few minutes about how he had bagged the brute and then we made our calls on the spots we wanted to hunt.

I moved to the rock. As soon as I stepped into the woods, two does blew and ran down the hill from me. I just shook my head and thought, I’ve been here before. I knew I might still see the deer following them. When I got to the rock, I took off my coat and pouch. I put a few cover scent drops out and some deer-in-rut attractant. I sat down and just started to think, Man, I don’t have anything to lean my back against. I’m going to feel this in an hour or two.

Subscribe Today!About a half-hour later, I heard noise from around the point and moving up the hill just out of sight. I stood and positioned for a shot. I was looking through my scope when around the hill stepped an awesome sight: a very big 8-point buck. In fact, it was THE ONE I’d shot at two years before.

I waited for a good broadside shot. When I had the angle, the buck looked right at me. I was already on its vitals. I let a round go, the deer lurched forward, and down the hill it went. It looked like it wasn’t even hurt. When I went to see if I’d connected, I found no blood. I couldn’t believe it, so I combed the area and finally saw another set of tracks. There was blood, too.

Now I was excited. The more I followed, the more blood I found. I tracked the deer for about 100 yards and there it was. And there was a very unusual point growing out of its forehead.

My cousin, dad and I pulled the deer into the field. The locals who were hunting in the area all came out to see the deer. One actually pulled his truck in the field and gave us and the buck a ride to the top of the hill to our truck. Turns out folks had been watching the deer for about six years and had nicknamed it the Unicorn Buck. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw him.

The deer is very popular with people, and it amazes kids. After all these years, I’ve finally got a trophy buck of a lifetime. I’ll never top this one.

This article was published in the November 2005 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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