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Once in a Lifetime

BakerBy Tyson Baker

-- This is one of the best and most bizarre days of deer hunting I have every experienced. It was the opening day of bow season in Kentucky on Sept. 2, 2006. The temperature during August was miserable. Then on the last day of the month, the temperature bottomed out. I knew the deer were going to be on the move so nothing was going to keep me out of my stand opening morning.

I had my hunting clothes drenched in fresh earth scent the whole off season. My arms were sore the entire month of August from practicing with my bow. I was more ready than I have ever been. Even with all of the images I had seen from my deer cam, I had no idea what was in store for me that morning.

Filled with so much anticipation, I was out of bed an hour before time to go. Going back to sleep was not an option. I had barely slept anyhow. I had plenty of time to make sure everything was in order for the first hunt of the year. After replacing my field tips with some new Muzzy Broadheads and filling up the quiver on my Bowtech, I was ready.
It was only a mile drive to where I hunt and about a half-mile walk to my treestand. I slipped into my stand, and after settling in, I noticed that it was deathly quiet. However, the quiet didn't last long. About 30 minutes into the hunt, I heard footsteps slowly approaching. I couldn't tell if they were coming from in front or behind me. It was so dark and the sound was constant without an interruption for what seemed like an entire minute. Then I suddenly understood why I couldn't determine where the footsteps were coming from - they were all around me.

There was just enough sunlight to give me an outline of my surroundings and allow my eyes to play tricks on me. When there was enough light to reveal the small pond I was hunting over, I could see that there were definitely deer surrounding it. After a few more minutes, I could see that the deer on the right was a nice buck. Of course, a doe stood next to the buck and blocked a perfect broadside shot. And she showed no intention of moving.

My nerves were about to cause me to fall out of the tree. I slowly looked around and tried to get a count of the deer and make sure that this was the deer I wanted to take. The buck was a 7-pointer with about a 14-inch spread and was in full velvet. This was the deer for the wall.
Finally the doe moved, but I had to be careful because there were six other deer by my count that could potentially see me draw my bow. As soon as I had an opening, I pulled my bow to full draw. Once I had the 30-yard pin on the buck, it bolted like I had already shot. But before I could even begin to feel let down by not being able to make the shot, the deer had flipped itself over into a three-strand barbed wire fence and became entangled around its neck and antlers. Its front right leg was also wound up so tightly it began bleeding almost instantly.

What was going on took a minute to set in for me. I still had a shot at the deer, but it didn't seem right, it would be like shooting a deer tied to a tree. So I began to think of how I could help the deer get free without getting mauled in its frantic flipping and kicking. A few minutes passed and the buck calmed down a little as I sat in my stand. I decided to get down and head back to my truck for a pair of wire cutters.

But when I looked again at the tangled deer, I was shocked to see a giant buck standing between me and the deer in the fence. The giant was about 10 yards closer to me. I drew my bow, anchored my 20-yard pin on the center of its rib cage since it was quartering away and pressed on my release. The arrow flew true and passed through the deer. With lightning speed the deer disappeared down the hill and through the trees. With no crash shortly after, worry set in. Did I not hit any vitals? Did I get in too big of a hurry and rush the shot?

I set out for my truck after quickly scanning for my arrow to no avail. I made it to my truck and drove back to the stand. I grabbed the wire cutters and went to the fence where the deer was wrapped up and decided to cut the wires one post down from the deer just to be safe. After the second wire was cut the deer leaped forward, faced toward me and sounded as if it were hyperventilating. Thankfully, the buck turned and went the other direction. I was so worried about getting run over, it actually took my mind off the fact I had just shot the biggest buck of my life.

Then I was on a mission to find a blood trail. I eventually found the buck 60 yards away from my stand. The giant had lain on the ground as if it simply went to sleep. 

Its antlers, wrapped in velvet, were perfect. As a bonus, it even had a drop tine. I couldn't help but yell out loud and thank the good Lord above. That will probably be the greatest yet strangest day of hunting in my life.

Tyson Baker
Austin, Kentucky

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