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My Best Arrived on Squirrel Paws

RansfordBy Mike Ransford

-- During the first week of November 2008, 10 of us went to Altoona, Kan., to hunt with Paradise Adventures. We were greeted with 80-degree temperatures, which kept deer movement to a minimum the first couple of days.

On day three, the outfitters decided to move us -- largely because a couple of real mega-bucks had been seen by a road department crew half a mile from where we'd been hunting.

My stand was in a river bottom surrounded by bedding area, two soybean fields and a cornfield. The first time I sat in it, I saw only a couple of does. The following morning, I watched seven does and a young 9-pointer. And that afternoon, I photographed an 8-pointer at close range.

At daybreak on Nov. 4, the same 4x4 I'd photographed the previous evening crossed the river. Twenty minutes after that, four does filtered in and began snuffling up acorns while I photographed them.

While preoccupied with the dinner party, I heard a noise I almost dismissed as squirrels. But then I slowly turned to see the big buck standing a few yards from my tree. It walked behind me as I hung my camera and grabbed my bow.

When it sauntered past a small tree I had ranged at 23 yards, I grunted softly and stopped it before releasing the arrow.

The deer ran about 60 yards after the shot.

It was later taped at 146 6/8 inches, both my greatest and the largest taken during our hunt.

--Mike Ransford

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