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No Ground Shrinkage

By Jeffrey Rutkowski

Jeffrey Rutkowski

It was opening day of the 2007 muzzleloader season in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It was the first time I’d set foot in this vast mountain range.

There were eight of us hunting. The day started off slow. We split up and went on different mountains in search for white-tailed deer. We met for a lunch and talked about what we’d seen that morning. There were a few sightings, but no shots were fired. We decided to hunt new areas again.

Rob and I decided to take a mountain to our east. We began to slowly work our way up it. Sign indicated plenty of deer feeding there.

Working my way across the mountain, I found a good bottleneck. I decided to stay and watch from that vantage point. After about 20 minutes, I heard a stick crack behind me. I turned slowly to see a flicker of a deer tail coming through the undergrowth.

A deer was moving along a ridge to the north. I slowly cocked the hammer of my Thompson/Center Encore Pro Hunter muzzleloader and brought it to my shoulder.

I lost sight of the deer when it stopped behind a knoll. I wondered if it was a buck or a doe.

All of a sudden, it began to move along the ridge. I picked up the movement through my scope. Just then, I realized it was a buck. He had some decent tines. I carefully followed him as he moved at a fast trot through the thick vegetation.

I placed the crosshairs on his shoulder. As soon as he came into a small opening, I fired. The air filled with thick smoke. I felt it was a good shot.

I caught a glance of the buck as he dropped over the edge of the ridge. I heard a lot of crashing, and then all was quiet. I quickly reloaded and walked in his direction. As I walked, I found a small sapling that my bullet had struck.

My heart sank as I thought the worst: I missed him.

I proceeded to walk to where the deer had stood. It was about a 50-yard shot. Immediately, I came across hair and fresh blood. I began to follow the trail.

Now, excitement was pumping through my body. I went about 25 feet and looked at the bench below. The deer was lying there! While he seemed big, I didn’t know just how big he really was.

The closer I got, the bigger the buck became. When I reached him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never had seen a buck of this caliber. I was so excited, I was jumping up and down. I still couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing.

I had to wait for someone to help me get the deer off the mountain. It didn’t take long for my friends to arrive. Rob couldn’t believe the size of the buck. He said he had never seen a deer of this size come out of these mountains. Soon, the rest of the men arrived. They all congratulated me and we took photos.

We had a long drag back to camp ahead of us. We were three miles from camp, but with my adrenaline pumping, it didn’t seem like more then 100 yards.

At camp, we weighed the buck and took more photos. The buck weighed 195 pounds, field dressed.

My hunt in the Adirondacks will always be in my heart. It will be one I will never forget.

The deer had a gross score of 157 5/8 and netted 152 2/8, making it into the Northeast Big Buck Club. It has 10 points with a 17 6/8-inch inside spread. What a dream buck! God willing, there will be many more hunts to come.

Whether you come home with your quarry or not, it’s about being in the great outdoors with close friends and having good times.

I want to thank my friends for helping me live a dream, Rob, Rick, Donnie, Ben (Pokon), Bob and Ben (Peters) aka the Rack Pack. A special thanks to the Fields family for welcoming me to their cabin and making me feel like family.

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