By Jon Bryan
-- On Nov. 11, 2006, my son, Brad, and I went out at 12:15 p.m. to rattle up a buck. Brad is an active duty soldier stationed at Ft. Hood. I am retired and own a ranch five miles southwest of Goldthwaite, Texas. The little cool snap we just enjoyed and the first quarter of the new moon triggered heavy buck movement in our area, and we believed that mid-day offered the best opportunity.
Brad had the first shot this day since he had not shot a deer in almost three years. One of those years was spent in Iraq. The other 18 months was taken up with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to remove a Stage 4 tumor from his right tonsil. He has been cancer free for the past 18 months! Praise the Lord!
Brad had decided on a treestand in some real thick oak and cedar trees in the back of the property. My spot was in a concealed area at the base of the tree that held the stand. The thick cover dictated the weapon he would use. His choice was an iron sight, Springfield M1903, .30-06 rifle. Brad picked out the rifle this past summer from the racks of the Civilian Marksmanship Program in Anniston, Ala. Brad is an excellent marksman and was a member of the Army's Rifle Team.
We parked the Jeep about a quarter of a mile from the stand and began a very slow, careful walk/sneak approach into our chosen hunting spot. On the way in, we saw no deer, and when we reached the stand, Brad climbed up into it. I sat down and made a comfortable spot on the ground. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 12:35 p.m.
As I sat under the treestand, the excitement was building. I waited for 15 minutes and then began rattling and whacking the brush with the horns, while making fighting sounds with my feet, by scraping them on the ground. Because I was in a concealed position, I could make these movements without being detected. I continued the rattling for about 30 seconds then stopped.
Fifteen minutes passed and I performed the same rattling tactic. Less than 20 seconds later, I saw Brad move and heard him grunt. Then "bam!" Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the deer run in a tight circle, drop and then get up and head off into the brush.
Jumping up the ladder, I whispered, "You got him!"
He replied, in a normal tone, "Yes, sir. But it was pretty thick where I shot him, and I think my shot was deflected by some twigs." Walking over to the spot of the hit, not 20 yards from the treestand, we found a lot of blood. Only 40 yards from there, we saw the deer.
Brad had not seen my miniature Dachshund, Spike, track a downed deer. So we walked back to the Jeep to get the dog. Brad said, "The second you stopped the rattling, the deer stepped out from behind the cover by the edge of the trail and looked straight at the source of the noise. I froze and couldn't raise my rifle, but as the deer circled behind some thick brush, I raised the rifle and was ready for him. He was moving to my left when I grunted, and he stopped behind a mesquite. I thought I had a good, clear shot, but I'm sure the round was deflected slightly by a limb or twig. Funny thing, when I shot the buck, it hopped and then made two complete circles before it took off into the brush." This was a new one for both of us.
We picked up Spike and drove to the treestand, stopped the Jeep, let Spike down, and I said, "Find the deer, Spike!" The dog circled the area looking for a blood trail. Several minutes passed, and then Spike found the spot where the deer was shot. In short order, the dog tracked along the blood trail that led right to the deer. Brad thought I had been kidding about Spike's tracking ability. One day we'll have trouble locating a deer, and Spike's nose will become invaluable to us.