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REDEMPTION!

By Robert Little

Whitetail Deer
Bob Little of Edmonton, Alberta, fired at two deer during his 2004 Saskatchewan hunt. He missed a much smaller buck the same day he bagged this strange and very large specimen. Photo by Dave Everett.

Three days into our late-November Saskatchewan hunt, my friends, John and Dave Everett, and I were ready to kick up some deer. The full moon and clear weather had conspired to keep the resident whitetails off their feet and out of sight during the day.

John and I teamed up Nov. 27 to hunt a couple of our hosts' outlying fields that had not been disturbed. When we got to the road allowance between two fields, we spotted a large buck bedded down with a doe and two fawns. We decided to mount a push - with John acting as driver while I crept into position and waited at the edge of the field.

Just as we'd hoped, the deer dashed into the field within rifle range, and I took the broadside shot. But the buck didn't fall; it did not even act as if it had been hit, soon disappearing.

Whitetail Deer
The author's buck might well be the highest-scoring rack on record for a set of antlers with a mere 9 6⁄8-inch inside spread. Photo courtesy of Robert Little.

John and I estimated that the buck was easily a 160-class deer - wide and with reasonable mass.

I couldn't believe that I'd missed. Three days of seeing nothing, only to miss when opportunity knocked. I continued to replay the scene in my head. I envisioned the shot. And I could not understand how I'd flubbed it. I had blown - BLOWN - my chance!

John, undoubtedly tired of hearing me beat myself up, offered me his ground blind for that evening. We had set the blind up the previous day in a spot to intercept deer moving out of a spruce draw and into a secluded oat field. We'd had no snow until that morning, and it was starting to accumulate.

I entered the blind, closed the doors on the southeastern side (I did not expect any action there), and peered to the northwest while thinking about my blown chance that morning. I ultimately decided it was the gun's fault.

I had no sooner reached that conclusion when I heard the snow and grass moving behind me. I made a slow turn inside the blind to peek out of one of the shooting windows and saw an extremely small fawn feeding toward the draw. I looked around for its mother, and there she was: prancing around in short bursts, as if she were performing.

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Today!She was, but not for me.

I watched her for a couple of minutes until she started to crest the hill due south of me. That's when I spotted her audience, a large-bodied deer that was following her, yet keeping to the shadows. Now I was interested.

When the buck arrived at the hilltop, the sun broke through the clouds to silhouette a wonderful rack against the skyline. I spun around immediately, my rifle's "problems" forgotten, and started looking for the window latch. It seemed to take me forever to find it. As soon as I did, I lowered the window and trained my gun on the deer, which was still moving.

I used my grunt tube to stop it. And when it looked my way, I fired.

Fist pumping and the dance of joy ensued.

"Redemption!" I almost yelled.

I waited until John came to pick me up before going to the deer. When we arrived at the spot where I thought it should be, there was nothing.

My heart sank.

But John steered the truck a little downhill, and there it was.

Read More Stories From RACK MagazineCenterfire Rifle
Irregular
Official Score: 188 3/8"
Compound Score: 198 1/8"

-- Reprinted from the July 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine

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