By Jeremy Wead
-- In October 2004, I received a call from a friend who had arrowed a buck on private property but was unable to recover it. Another friend and I set out to find the buck for him.
All blood signs were good and heavy, and then we came upon the rear half of my friend’s arrow. It, too, showed good blood sign. We found the front half of the arrow in a cut bean field. The broadhead was still attached. After three more hours of tracking, however, we lost the trail.
A second trip the next morning yielded the same blood sign, but then it played out. We decided we’d done all we could to find that buck and hoped the injury wasn’t fatal.
I continued to hunt with my friend and alone that year on both public and private land, taking three deer with my bow by the time the rifle season began.
My hunting buddies and I decided to return to the private land where the wounded buck had escaped a month earlier.
I found myself a little exposed in the first spot I chose, so I moved into a thicket, sitting on a portion of eroded ground. Soon, a bunch of does being followed by a nice buck moved through the area, but too quickly for me to get a shot.
I heard two quick shots over the hill, and was certain that one of my partners had taken deer from that herd.
I sat quietly. The wind was in my favor, I was well-hidden and near a rub line. After 5 minutes of daydreaming about hot coffee and pancakes, I caught movement to my left and slowly raised the rifle. It was the buck I’d seen earlier.
The deer had apparently been turned around by the gunfire. He quickly covered 75 yards in his approach, limping heavily on one side as if wounded badly.
When the deer was 50 yards in front of me, I squeezed the trigger of my Winchester rifle in .30-06, sending a 150-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip handload through his shoulder. He fell in a heap.
When I met with my friends later, I found out one of them had shot two nice does, but the other friend saw nothing.
I explained what I had seen, and that I knew we’d agreed to harvest only does, but the buck was walking with a severe limp, so I had to put him down for good.
We walked up to the buck. As my friends congratulated me on a nice 4x4, I reached down, felt the shoulder and found a healing wound that was on both sides of the animal. It was the same buck my friend had arrowed but lost during the archery season.
It was my first rifle buck. My friend was the original shooter, but he did not hit any vitals. The buck was mine.
My friends and I spent the rest of the morning dragging him and the does uphill, and taking them to be tagged and sent to the butcher for processing.
The friend who hadn’t seen a deer filled a bonus tag later that day using my rifle and reloads, and he later purchased the gun because he liked it so much.