By Jason Miller
-- My story begins with a very good but unsuccessful bow season, during which I missed a trophy buck by misjudging the distance and shooting under the buck. My attitude was down a bit after this experience, but I knew that I would have a great chance at a trophy buck during gun season.
The first week of gun season came and went with only one sighting of a decent buck, but a shot never presented itself as there were other hunters in the vicinity. Luckily, Ohio added an extra weekend to the 2006 gun season. I was ready to hit the woods again the following weekend.
The hunt started with deer running in all directions as our deer drives had great results for others in our group but not for me. We had called it quits for the day, and my cousin and I had decided that enough time remained to check out one of our honey holes that had had very little hunting pressure.
As we approached this area, we could see at least four does feeding out in the field and we decided to stalk a little closer and take a doe. Our hopes for a big buck would then hang on muzzleloader season to fill our tags. We crept over the crest of a hill, and I quickly told my cousin to lower down because I spotted antlers. We were on our stomachs as we peeked over the hill, and there stood a nice 8-point buck with a tall rack and average body. The wind was in our face so we knew we had the upper hand.
I began to crawl along the ground and closed the distance to around 75 yards. I was in a prone position with my 1100 aimed just a hair over the buck's sweet spot. When the shot rang out, the buck never moved a muscle. So I looked to fire again but my gun had jammed. All I could do was watch as the field came alive with does running in all directions. The four or five does somehow turned into 20 does that looked like cockroaches running when a light is turned on in a dark room.
The buck finally began to move. I could tell that my shot was a bit low. I watched as the buck entered the thicket and disappeared. I did not want to run to the buck as I figured it would need some time to expire.
I slowly approached where the buck entered the thicket. I heard something move and hoped it was not my buck. I told my cousin that we should leave and come back first thing in the morning. Talk about a long night of wondering if I would find my buck before the coyotes. We spoke to a few friends that night and had a small group searching at first light.
It didn't take us long to find the buck's trail because it was much easier to follow in the daytime. I began walking up a small knoll and there it was up against a tree. I let out a small, "Wahoo!" and gave my buddies high-fives as we approached. I quickly grabbed the buck's antlers and held him up.
This is another classic example of letting a deer lie down and expire. This is a rule I will never forget.
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