Sometimes bucks need a little push to get them moving. This was one of those times.
By Carol Frazier
Weather during last year’s deer season was unusual, to say the least, for us in Virginia. We’d see two days in the 60s to 70s, drops into the teens for a few more, then more temperature spikes. This made the deer hunting nearly impossible at times.
Nevertheless, my husband, David, and I had a very successful season, harvesting several does and a couple of small bucks. Most were taken while still-hunting, and a few others were taken on drives with family and friends. The chances of even seeing a deer on a drive here in the mountains of Albermarle County are 50-50, but getting a clear shot is another matter.
By season’s end, everyone was worn out but determined to spend the last day – Jan. 1, 2005 – in the woods. I invited a family friend, Tommy Rappold, to join me that morning. Tommy arrived at 6 a.m., and we headed out to our stands. Daylight came with temperatures in the mid-40s. Around 7:30, a small deer passed by me, headed toward Tommy’s stand, so I let it go.
Tommy had not seen a deer since Thanksgiving; I wanted him to have an opportunity. After four hours of not seeing any other deer or hearing any shots from his direction, I decided to get him and go home. David, his cousin, Eddie Monger, and his uncle, Claude Monger, were already planning drives for the afternoon. After a quick lunch and a short strategy session, four of us headed out to our stands. Claude was going to start the drive about 20 minutes later.
The property that we were going to drive consisted of a steep ridge covered on the northern side with thick mountain laurels that provide excellent security cover for the deer. Open hardwoods are all around the laurels. David and I dropped Tommy off where he started his climb to the top of the funnel. Eddie was going to watch the corner escape route where we have a ladder stand.
Tommy and I wished each other luck and went our separate ways to watch the lower side escape routes. I had not even reached my stand when I heard two shots from the top of the ridge in Tommy’s direction. Hopeful that he connected, I continued on to my stand.
As I crossed the last blowdowns, I checked the wind and decided to sit about 30 yards downwind of my usual spot. I picked an old log, checked for shooting lanes and settled in to wait. Because the terrain is so steep and thick, this drive takes about an hour and a half.
I had been sitting maybe 5 minutes when I noticed movement above me in the mountain laurel. There stood the biggest buck I had ever seen while hunting or scouting.
Not taking the time to study its rack, I quickly put my gun up to see if I could get a clear shot. I had to keep moving the scope away to see where it was since it seemed to disappear and reappear so quickly. After a few tense seconds, it was nowhere to be seen, and I assumed it had crept back into the mountain laurels, never to be seen again. I had settled my nerves when suddenly I saw movement again where the laurels join the hardwoods.
There was the buck, trying to sneak away undetected as it had probably done in years past. I once again got my gun up, braced my elbow on my knee and readied for the shot. The big boy partially stepped into the opening 30 yards away, far enough for me to get a good look as it paused. A tree blocked its vitals. As I tried to stay calm, I continued to concentrate on shot placement, not headgear, which wasn’t easy when the buck looked directly at me.
Finally, it moved two more steps forward, giving me a clear shot. I squeezed the trigger of my .270. By the reaction of the buck, I knew it was hit. I quickly stood up and watched as it ran, saying, “Go down! Go down!” Finally, about 50 yards later, it stumbled. I kept watching to make sure it was down for good.
I had to cover my mouth to keep from letting out an excited scream. I couldn’t wait any longer. I sat still maybe a minute before going over to where it lay. I approached cautiously as I always do, but the buck was not going anywhere.
If someone had been watching, they would have thought I was nuts. I jumped up and down, danced a little jig and thanked the Lord for this opportunity. As I held antlers in my hands, I heard a lot of commotion in the laurels again. Five does were moving away quickly. “Have a good day, ladies,” I said.
As I replayed the events, I was very happy that I’d decided to move 30 yards from where I normally sit because I might never have seen this deer. It probably would have winded me and disappeared without me even knowing it was there.
A few minutes later, my husband came though the woods, and I whistled to get his attention. He shrugged it off, so I whistled again. Still nothing. I finally held up the big boy’s head. That got a reaction!
He ran over to me and gave me a big hug and let out a holler. We both started counting points. The buck’s rack is a mainframe 10-pointer that had a tine partially broken off in velvet. Stickers near the bases make it a 15-pointer. After admiring the deer for a few minutes, I headed back to the truck with our guns. David stayed behind to field-dress the deer.
I was just about to the truck when I saw Eddie lying on the ground with his rifle pointed down in a creek bottom. I stopped to wait for his shot. He lowered his rifle and mouthed, “There’s a deer right there.” Eddie got up, the deer ran off and I motioned that I had shot a nice buck. After getting close enough to talk, he told me that he could have taken the little deer any time, but let it go in hopes of seeing it again next year.
I told him my story on the way back to the buck. There were still others moving around us, heading back to the safety of the laurels, as we were getting ready to get the deer out. We saw Claude and Tommy on the way out of the woods, and could see that Tommy was dragging a small doe. So we quickly hid the big boy behind a large oak tree and walked up to meet them.
After congratulating Tommy, Claude asked about the shot he heard from our direction. David said, “Carol just got a little scrub buck.” As we walked around the tree, both of them stood there speechless.
This article was published in the November 2005 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.