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Over-the-Top Buck

By Tab R. Troutman

Tab R. TroutmanI usually take a vacation the last week of the Pennsylvania archery season, hoping it coincides with the rut. During the latter part of the 2006 season, I didn’t see many deer at all, so I decided to watch a clear-cut low on the mountain.

After a few hours of seeing no activity, I moved to a saddle on top of the mountain. As soon as I reached it, I saw a few deer move off into the thick cover.

After I got situated, a small 5-pointer trotted by, followed by a mature doe. I thought, “No wonder I’m not seeing much. They don’t know who should be doing the chasing!”

I heard something moving about 30 minutes later and got my bow ready. A lone doe came running along the far edge of the mountain followed by a mature buck.

They were coming pretty fast. I grunted with my mouth to stop him for a shot. I had to stand to shoot over the brush pile I was using for cover after he passed my two shooting lanes.

The buck either didn’t hear the first two grunts or ignored them. I practically yelled the third grunt. That did the trick. He stopped broadside at 20 yards.

I made a good double-lung shot, and the buck ran down the far side of the mountain before piling up. He was about 30 yards down, but it might as well have been a mile.

It was very steep there. When I tried to move him, I only managed about 10 yards and said to myself, this will never work. I called my son, Justin. He was in meetings all morning at work and told me to wait. He would be there as soon as possible.

It was about 60 degrees. I couldn’t just sit there and wait, so I came up with another plan. We had hunted in Montana, and the outfitter there had cut my mule deer in half to load it on a pack horse. It is actually easy to do if you have seen it done.

It took me a few hours, as I moved all my equipment plus one-half of the deer, then the other half. It didn’t help that the mountain had been timbered off a few years earlier and is so thick with undergrowth and saplings, you can barely get through it on foot.

I called my dad to bring my Jeep up the mountain on a logging road to meet me. I just reached him when Justin called and said he was at the bottom of the mountain ready to walk up to help me. Isn’t that how it always seems to work out?

The buck was a mature 10-pointer with a 20-inch spread. He weighed over 200 pounds and scored about 140.

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