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Best Season Yet

Shawn Adam Miller
Shawn Adam Miller of Lykens, Pa., capped off his dream season with this buck that fell to an arrow on a cold November morning in 2007.
By Shawn Adam Miller
 
-- I'm an avid outdoorsman with a college degree in wildlife biology. My wildlife career has afforded me the ability to work with many animals in a lot of different locations. As a result, I have had the opportunity to go on quite a few hunts.

My favorite hunts were while I worked with Sitka and white-tailed deer on Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland from October 2006 until April 2007. The project was to follow radio-collared deer and capture new deer in the winter months for radio-collars. I learned a great deal about the ecology of these two species living on a barrier island. I archery hunted most of January 2007, and harvested three Sitka deer using my compound bow.

The harvests were not the main highlights from the hunts, however. Hearing the ocean waves and seagulls and then spotting the occasional bald eagle is surreal in itself. This island is also home to a population of 120 wild ponies. While waiting for deer from made-up ground blinds, I had many close encounters with some of these wild horses.

I moved back to my home state of Pennsylvania in the spring, just in time for gobbler season. I hunted all season, chasing strutting gobblers. The last week of the spring turkey season, I took a small gobbler.

Then, one hot September afternoon, I headed out with my muzzleloader to a farmer's land who had antlerless deer tags because the does were eating his crops. Just before sunset, I spotted a nice doe heading into the alfalfa field. I set the crosshairs behind its shoulder, pulled the trigger and the doe went down. I had a week to wait for the archery season to start.

My luck stayed with me throughout archery season. Oct. 29, I shot a fall gobbler that had a 121/4-inch beard and 13/4-inch spurs. During the archery season, I shot three does and the biggest buck of my life.

The hunt for this buck took place Nov. 10, 2007. I was hunting with my brother, Steve, who is my best friend and hunting buddy. We woke to a light snow-covered morning and rain falling from the sky. The temperature was crisp - just 33 degrees. We were in the field well before daylight and heard a buck chasing a doe around my stand.

Around 7:10 a.m., I arrowed my trophy. Steve and I tracked the deer all afternoon but we could not find it. I searched for three hours the following day until I found the buck lying next to a stream. I reached for the buck and it ran off. The buck managed to make it to the top of a slope, waddled and fell. The total green score was 112 inches. As the season carried into the firearms season, I shot another doe with my bow.

After a year of successful hunts, I was proud of my accomplishments. And while the buck isn't a trophy-book deer, it's a trophy to me.

Shawn Adam Miller
Lykens, Pennsylvania

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