By Ed Waite
-- I had been in the woods since 6:15 a.m., and it was cold and windy. Ten hours had passed, and I had 50 minutes of legal shooting light left. By that point, I had decided that enough was enough. Another storm front was coming in, the woods were getting dark and I was cold and tired.
Plus, I had a mile hike back to camp with half of it uphill. So, I decided to still-hunt my way back to the comforts of camp. My day was not too exciting as I only spotted two does and two other deer, and I could not tell if they were bucks or not.
My pack was hanging on a nearby tree, so I retrieved it and was putting it on when I saw movement about 150 yards away. I still was unable to determine whether it was a buck or doe, but it was coming my way at a leisurely pace. If it stayed on track, it would pass about 75 yards away.
I was hunting with a .308, as I had loaned my .30-30 to a friend for this trip. I shouldered my rifle and tried to catch a glimpse of head gear. After several attempts, I saw it was a legal and quite nice buck. I was on to looking for an open shooting lane. There were several small openings, but the buck never stopped moving.
The track the deer was following would bring it to about 75 yards out and to a small opening. This would be my last chance. One step beyond would put the buck behind a large pile of slashings from the last timber operation, and I would likely never see it again. There was no chance I could stop the buck by anything short of a gunshot because the wind was very strong, and he was upwind of me.
The last opening was about 5 feet wide, and he stopped to take a quick bite of browse. This proved to be a very fatal mistake on the buck's part, as I was able get on him and squeeze the trigger. Remember the .308? Well, it was sighted-in for 300 yards. Therefore, it would be about 4-5 inches high at 75 yards, or so I thought. I held low and fired. The impact was just about where I held the crosshairs.
The buck must have jumped eight feet in the air, and when it came down I could no longer see him. A few seconds later I heard what I thought was a crash, but with the wind, I couldn't be sure.
I held my ground and continued to watch for movement. Nothing! I moved to my right about 10 yards, which allowed me, through the scope, to see what I hoped was bright red on the ground where the buck landed after the high jump. After 10 more minutes it was getting very dark and the snow was coming down. Meantime, I called my son who was about a mile away, and informed him to come my way after dark and help me retrieve the deer so we could get it back to camp.
Cautiously, I moved forward for the first 45 yards and saw the heavy trail left by the buck. However, I did not see the deer on the ground. I wondered, could it have somehow continued on through the woods? No way! Fortunately, after a few more yards, I could see into the bottom of a ravine and there lay my prize. It was a respectable 10-point buck, which is not considered a bad deer at all for western Pennsylvania.
Editor's note: Ed Waite is a Master Scorer for Buckmasters Trophy Records. To find out more about Ed, visit www.thewaitegroup.com.
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