By Travis Starkey
The 2007 Michigan firearm deer season opener is a day I’ll never forget. I woke up that morning, made some breakfast, grabbed my gear and my clothes for basketball practice, threw it into my truck and drove to the blind.
It snowed the night before, just enough for decent tracking. When I finally got my brush blind, I set out some scent, and sat down. I was very excited about the setup. I could see eight scrapes, all within 20 yards of each other.
Around 8:30 a.m., a doe walked by on one of the runs. Nothing else was moving, so I began studying for a test I’d missed that day at school. But I got bored of that pretty quick.
My legs were sore from basketball practice the night before, so at about 10 a.m., I went for a walk. I wanted to check out a field behind me. About 50 yards from the blind was small opening that led to the field. Walking through the opening, I looked up and spotted a deer at the far end of the field.
I immediately stopped, pulled up my rifle and looked through the scope. It was just a doe. Then something caught my eye — something coming out of a swamp right behind the doe.
When it walked out to the edge of the field and turned its head with the sun just shining off its rack, all I could see was horns.
Buck fever kicked in immediately. I looked around for a rifle rest, but there wasn’t one. I kneeled down and tried to put the crosshairs on him. I didn’t have much success with that because I was shaking so bad.
The buck came out, sniffed the doe and started walking straight away from me, out of the field. Then he turned slightly, presenting a quartering-away shot.
It was a now or never.
I tried to calm down, but that didn’t work too well. After a few seconds, though, I was able to get steady. I pulled the trigger, and the buck took off.
I stopped to collect myself. It had been a long shot, so I got up to I pace it off. The distance was around 250 yards. I found white hair were the deer had stood and very little blood.
I cringed, knowing I had some work to do.
Deciding to wait before tracking the deer, I called my mother on my cell phone to tell her what happened. Then I started tracking.
I went for a while without seeing any blood, and finally I found a small puddle next to a log. I decided to call my mom again to have her ask my dad to help me track down the deer.
While talking to her, I heard something behind me. I told her to hold on a second. I looked behind me and saw another buck!
I had two tags and I knew the big deer would qualify for the restricted tag. So I whispered to my mom, “I see another another buck.” I put my phone down on a stump while my mom was still on the line. I grabbed my gun that was resting against the same stump, pulled it up and shot the deer, dropping it instantly.
Picking up the phone, I told my mom “I got another one!”
Both of us started laughing.
It was a smaller buck, but I hunt to fill the freezer, so I was glad.
When my dad came home, my mom told him to come out and help me find the other buck. When he arrived, I told him the story.
We started tracking the big buck and we found where he was bedded. The bed was loaded with blood. Three hours later, we were still tracking, finding a speck of blood here and there and maybe a bed or two.
We crossed an old skidding road, and then it got interesting. We found six beds in small area. I had a gut feeling as I snuck up to the edge of a clearing. The buck was there. I pulled my gun up and pulled the trigger.
My dad and I ran up to him. We couldn’t believe the size of the rack. I counted 10 points. We sat down and enjoyed the moment.
After we figured out where we were, I called my mom to bring her four-wheeler out.
It was a long hike to get back to where I’d parked. We drove to the end of the road, and my dad and I hopped on the four-wheeler. Finally we retrieved the buck and loaded it into the truck.
I went home and got ready for my basketball practice that I had in two hours. We had tryouts that week and the captains were going to be announced that night. Well, I was announced one of the captains.
After practice I brought the 10 point to the big buck contest hosted by our local fire department. We put it on the scale. The total weight was 213½ pounds with a metal basket, so we figured the actual deer weight was about 190 pounds.
Of all the deer brought entered in the contest, mine was the biggest. I ended up winning the contest.
Needless to say, I had a pretty good day.