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Backyard Bruiser

Luis T. FernandezBy Luis T. Fernandez

-- I started hunting deer in 1966 and have hunted every year since then, excepting 1971-1973, when I was in the U.S. Army. Not having the time and finances to hunt in another states, I normally hunt close to home. I’ve have taken some nice bucks over the years, but nothing has come close to the one I shot on November 17, 2007 during the Michigan firearms season.

Opening day began cold and rainy. I had fired at a doe about 45-50 yards away, but somehow missed. Although I’d searched for almost an hour, I could not find any sign of a hit. 

Monday, the 17
th, found me sitting at my favorite spot. It was colder, and some snow was on the ground. I have made it a practice to take the time to pray for my family while I sit in my blind, waiting for legal shooting time (and enough light). I'll bow my head and pray for a little while, then look up, even though most of the time it’s too dark to see, then I'll go back to praying.

One of those times when I looked up, I spotted a 4- or 6-point buck 15 yards in front of me, walking into the brush. I waited about 30 seconds and grunted twice, hoping to draw him back, but never saw him again. I was elated that I’d seen a buck that early, but bummed because I hadn't been able to react quickly enough. So I just sat and waited.

About 8:30 a.m., I spotted a larger buck walking down the same path the other buck had taken. I immediately drew a bead on him, but did not shoot because he was in tall grass. His path took him across the mowed area I keep in front of my blind. I mouth-grunted to stop him, which he did, and I shot, hitting him in the shoulder. He took off like a freight train, tearing a 2-foot path through the brush.

He fled up the side of a gully and over a ridge. I went to check for blood and found some right away. The sign led to the ridge where I last saw him. I walked a few more yards and found him, piled up. I knew he was a big deer, but I didn't know just how big until I started counting points. The buck had 16 legal points!

I called my wife on my cell phone to tell her. Later, I found another legal point, making it a total of 17 points. The buck was approximately 5 1/2 years old and weighed 187 pounds, field-dressed.

This is my largest buck ever, truly the trophy of a lifetime. Where did I get this buck? Right in my own backyard! I own 4 acres, but it is surrounded by 195 acres of Christmas trees, hardwoods and wetlands. My nearest neighbor lives a third of a mile away, and neither one of us had ever seen this buck in the wild.

My taxidermist guesses he'll score 140-150 points. I feel blessed by God, having been allowed me to take such a beautiful buck. My family will definitely enjoy the many meals he will provide.

-- Luis T. Fernandez

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