By James Paulson
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, midway through the 2006 firearms season, I was hunting in Becker County, Minn., just north of Park Rapids. The weather was unseasonably warm, with daytime highs around 60 degrees. Deer movement had been slow, and buck movement nonexistent during daylight hours.
I had hunted various stand sites, trying to find deer. Eventually I settled on a fresh spot deep in a remote hollow. The wind was out of the west, which was good for that spot. At 3 p.m., I headed out with a lawn chair to hunt under a pine tree I had scouted earlier in the season as a good ambush point.
I was using a lawn chair because I didn't want to disturb the area by putting up a treestand. The clearing was surrounded by thick oak scrub brush, doghair birch, pawpaw and pines. I got settled in at about 3:30; 15 minutes later, I thought I heard some grunts behind me to the east in a thicket on the ridge.
A few minutes later, I thought I heard more click grunts to the south. I made a few calls with a doe-in-estrus can call. Then I made a few grunts and growl calls. I put the call down on a log and sat back in the chair, not really expecting much.
Two minutes later, a massive-racked buck emerged from the thicket just 25 yards away. My gun was leaning against the tree next to me, and I watched the awesome buck in total disbelief.
It was looking right at me, searching for the deer that had made the call. All I could do was tell myself to stay calm and try to keep my composure. My heart was beating so hard I was sure it would see me moving. I prayed the buck would look away or put its head down as I sat frozen, waiting for an opportunity to reach for my gun.
After what seemed like forever, the monster put its nose to the ground. I reached for my gun and had it almost to me when the buck lifted its head and stared at me again. I froze again, holding my gun in mid-air and telling myself not to screw this up.
The buck finally dropped its head once more and moved behind some brush. I brought my gun to my shoulder and just waited for it to take a step forward into a small shooting lane.
As the shoulder moved into the opening, I put the crosshairs right on it. I don't even remember hearing my rifle crack. I just remember seeing the buck kick and run toward the thicket to the north.
Next I heard crashing through the thick brush and small trees, then all went quiet. I sat there wondering if this was real. Slowly, with shaking hands, I started to pack up my gear.
I quietly made my way out to the clearing where the buck had been standing when I shot. At first I didn't see anything, but I started looking in the direction it ran, and about 10 feet from the opening, I saw a blood trail. I followed it to the edge of the clearing, where there was a small ravine.
As I looked down the ravine, it was easy to see something had blasted through. A few steps farther, and I saw the buck on the ground. I started celebrating as I held his massive rack. I was in awe of the mass of this 13-point irregular trophy.
It has seven points on the left and six on the right with a unique curled point off the base. The rack measures 164 1Ú8 Irregular in Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records.
When you're blessed enough to hold a rack like this, words can't even describe it.
--By James Paulson