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Chronicles of a Deer Hunt: Part II

Chris PeddicordBy Chris Peddicord

-- 5:30 p.m. - After dropping my dad's deer off at the processors, we head back out for an evening hunting. We decide to sneak into position in a ditch near the alfalfa fields where we had observed so many deer the night before. Although we have some concern that the hunting events of the day will keep the big bucks from coming down to the field, we decide to give it a try. We establish a couple of lookout positions about 20 yards apart. We can't see each other, but we can watch separate spots on the fields.

6:30 p.m. - I've been watching nothing but does and fawns walk onto the fields for the past hour. I'm beginning to think our concerns were well founded and that the bucks are staying away until dark. Then I hear my dad coming toward me. I know the sun sets in about 10 minutes, and it's legal to hunt until about 30 minutes past that as long as light allows it. I assume he hasn't seen a thing and is coming to get me for a last attempt at a different area. The look on his face tells a different story.

"There's a hell of a buck that just came out of the trees over here!"

Really? Holy smokes, this could be it.

I walk quietly with him to a vantage point overlooking the buck that just came out of the trees. All I see is antlers. Wow, it's a shooter! I definitely need to get closer, he's way too far off, but he's heading toward us slowly. Unfortunately, we don't have more than a few minutes to make this all happen. I start sneaking on my knees and my butt making incremental movements along the ditch embankment.

This is going to take awhile. I grab the laser rangefinder, but I can't get a reading off the deer. I paint the laser on a large tree behind him and figure he's about 100 yards in front of it. The reading comes back as 456 yards. That's a loooong way. I need to make more progress toward him.

I continue scooting up the embankment a few more yards until I reach a bit of a flat clearing about 3 feet across and 4 feet long. This might give me a shot. I steady the rifle on my bipod and get a good look at him through my 4x12 Leupold. The buck has a nice, tall rack. Not quite as wide as the deer my dad took earlier in the day, but it has more height.

The light is clearly waning as the sun has set. Now is the time. I have a choice to make. I've put 40 rounds through my new Winchester Classic Stainless .270 WSM with Mossy Oak Obsession Dura Touch stock. Even at 200 yards I've been shooting excellent groups. I've memorized my ballistics table and I realize I feel totally confident in the shot I'm about to make. I take another look through the scope and realize I'm shaking a bit. Calm the nerves can make this shot. I gather myself and take a few deep breaths as I think through what I'm about to do. I think about my ballistics table, 350 yards with a 140 grain bullet at 3200 fps puts me at -10.1 inches. I want a chest shot, no gut shots here. It's not long before dark; I don't want to wound this deer.

I look back through the scope ... good ... it's steady. I pick a point right at the top of its back above the shoulder. Deep breath ... it's time. I click off the safety. My dad, who has been watching from a few yards back, suddenly realizes I'm going to shoot and tenses up. I look back through the scope and concentrate on holding steady ... deep breath ... let out easy ... squeeze ... BOOM ... WHACK!

The bullet seems to take forever to get there. I recover from the recoil just in time to see the deer fall in its tracks. No question, the deer was dead before it hit the ground. As I jump up and look back I see my dad with his mouth open. "You got him! That was an incredible shot!"

As he walks up, I realize my hands and legs are shaking. Talk about an adrenaline dump. Dad gets the pickup as I walk right up to my deer. The buck literally fell directly in its tracks. From the deer I look back to my shooting position through the laser rangefinder, which registers 330 yards. As I attach my hunting license to the buck in the back of the truck, I realize this is the perfect end to a perfect day of hunting.

Chris Peddicord, Elk River, Minnesota

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