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One for Jeff

Baker
Nathan Uttienger, left, had to bring his friend, Heath Baker, back to reality after the hunters noticed this Missouri brute looking at them from 20 yards away. Baker's arrow dropped the buck in its tracks.
By Heath Baker
 
-- My best friend, Nathan Uttienger, and I have hunted together since we were kids. Jeff, Nate's late father, took me in as one of his own sons and taught us everything we know about hunting.

After Jeff passed away, we continued to hunt and carry on the traditions he taught us. We have taken hunting trips to Kansas for prairie dogs and to North Dakota for coyotes but none are as memorable as an evening hunt we took after Thanksgiving dinner in 2007. Nate's uncle informed us of a big buck he had seen hanging around on his farm. We decided to stalk the buck.

We knew right where the buck was bedding down in the evenings. As soon as we could sneak away from our Thanksgiving dinners, we drove to the farm with high hopes of harvesting this buck. When we stepped out of the truck the wind was perfect, blowing straight in our faces. I nocked an arrow, and we began our stalk.

Keeping low, we moved down a beaten path just on the edge of a thicket that led right to the buck. We closed the gap to 40 yards, ducked behind a bush and waited. Thirty minutes passed with no sighting of the buck. The sun was setting and my enthusiasm was quickly fading.

Nate hit the grunt call one last time. The deep grunt shook the buck from its bed. Suddenly, we heard a loud commotion from our right. It was coming right at us. I cautiously peered around the bush, and there in all, its glory, just 20 yards away, stood our trophy!

As we looked this beautiful animal in the eye, I completely forgot what I had to do. Nate brought me back to reality with a whispered command to shoot the buck. Automatically, I drew back on the bow, the buck turned to run and I let the arrow fly. The projectile connected behind the buck's rib cage and put it down on the spot.

We just looked at each other in silence for a second and then broke out in yells of victory. The buck had 13 countable points and weighted 315 pounds. I will never forget that hunt and while Nate's father was not there with us, I know he had a big smile on his face.
 
Heath Baker
Nevada, Missouri

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