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News Flash: Big Buck Down

PotterBy Richard Potter

-- It was November 19, 2005, opening day of gun season in Wisconsin. My 19-year-old daughter Melissa was with me, just as she has been since she was 8. Melissa loves hunting and always has.

Melissa and I have an opening-morning tradition of sitting together. Since 2001, we had taken a deer home on opening morning before noon. Melissa is the one who started our tradition when her grandfather passed away in 2001. It just so happened that his funeral was on opening day of gun season that year. Melissa said, "Dad, you have to go hunting in the morning. Grandpa would want it that way."

Her mother and grandmother agreed, so I went out and got a doe at 9 a.m. It was 60 degrees that morning, so I had to take the deer to the funeral with me so I could get it to the cooler right after. Melissa said, "Grandpa sent that deer to you, so we'll have to go every year and get another one together."

Back to opening day of 2005. We live in the southern part of Wisconsin, which is limited to shotguns or handguns. I prefer a little more of a challenge, so I use a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Magnum with a 10 1/2-inch riffled barrel. Melissa uses a Remington 870 Express shotgun.

We had been sitting in our usual stand until about 9 a.m. We were getting cold and decided that our luck had finally run out and that it was probably time to try something different. We stayed together but moved down to a marsh. We made our way to the new stand and climbed up the tree only to realize it wasn't nearly as big as our usual stand. We were cramped!

We made it about an hour before I had to use the bathroom. I said, "Let's go to town, use the bathroom and get something to eat before we come back for the afternoon." She agreed, so we got down and started for the truck.

We were walking slowly but not very quietly, talking about our strategy for the afternoon. Next we stopped in our tracks with our mouths hanging open. Standing 30 yards away stood a beautiful, 8-pointer. It looked right at us and stared us down, seeming to take forever.

PotterI slowly raised my Ruger. Without any kind of rest, I was struggling to hold the gun steady when Melissa whispered, "Dad, shoot!"

That sure didn't help, but I finally felt good about it and squeezed off a shot. The buck immediately took off, so I fired twice more, but both were clear misses.

After I calmed down, Melissa and I walked over and found my deer just a few yards from where I had shot it.

As if that wasn't awesome enough, the story gets better. We loaded the deer into the back of the truck and headed down to the DNR station to register it. We pulled into the parking lot, and the local news stations were there to cover the opening-day hunt and get hunters' opinions about how safe we felt out in the woods after the shootings that had happened up north in Wisconsin.

As soon as the news crews saw a young lady pull in with a large buck in the back, they immediately pounced on us. They asked a couple of questions about the hunt, but then the DNR guys told me to keep the line going. I went into the building and fill out the paperwork while Melissa was remained out with the news Crew.

When I finally got back to the truck, the news teams were waiting to ambush me with huge grins on their faces. Apparently Melissa is a good hunter, but she stinks in the story-telling department. I would have made up a great story about how I stalked the deer all day until I finally got it, but she went and told the truth! We ended up on the news telling the world how I had to go to the bathroom and just happened to shoot a big buck on the way.

Richard Potter
Whitewater, Wisc.

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