By Jason Crawford
On the morning of Dec. 2, 2003, I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock telling me get up and go to work. It was a beautiful morning here in Madison County and it was certainly a nice day for hunting. Unfortunately, I had to drive to town for another day at the job.
As I drove to work, I was thinking I should be headed to the woods for a chance of taking my first deer with a pistol, which my stepfather let me borrow. This is a new Ruger 44 magnum that was dressed up with a new scope and freshly reloaded bullets.
All I could think about was being in the woods. Usually this kind of thinking comes and goes, but for some reason it was haunting me all day. Once I made it to lunchtime, I had decided that tomorrow would be a different story. As lunchtime ended, I made a trip to see the supervisor. As I approached the boss, he could tell something was up by the look on my face. While I was asking for the next day off, he interrupted me and said, "You want to go hunting, right?"
The word "yes" rolled out of my mouth. I couldn't wait to get off work so I could hang my climber.
I had plans of taking a mature doe with the pistol, which I thought would be an awesome trophy harvested with a pistol. I had a spot in mind where I had seen nothing but does every afternoon. Later that day, I got back to the house, grabbed my stand and off to the woods I went. I had about a 10-minute ride to where I had seen the does, with the intention of maybe getting a shot at them the next morning.
The terrain where I was hunting was mostly hardwoods. At this spot there were several very small rubs and some deer droppings; nothing major that would get a deer hunter excited.
After the stand was on the tree, I headed back to the house to get a good meal in me and wait for the morning to come. As 4:30 a.m. arrived, the alarm clock sounded. It wasn't like getting up for work where you hit the snooze button several times and lie back down. This time when the alarm went off, there was no snooze button involved.
The night before, I left a drag rag soaking in doe-in-heat estrus to hide my scent walking in. I threw on my camo, as well as the essentials to stay warm due to the chilly morning. Off to the woods I went with the pistol.
Once I arrived at the location, I got out and made sure I had everything I needed including my grunt tube. With the drag rag following close behind me, I slowly headed out, thinking about how this might be the first time for a pistol deer.
When I arrived at the stand site, I took the drag rag and tied it to a limb so that it was hanging about 2 feet off the ground. I then climbed to a height of about 15 feet so that I could position myself for a good view.
Around 6:45, I spotted the first deer movement. As I watched with chill bumps and a runny nose, I saw three does coming straight toward me about 45 yards away. I then decided that this was the moment of truth as I picked out the biggest doe in the group, which was within 15 yards of me by this time.
I turned slightly to my right with the pistol sitting in my lap. At this point, the deer were within 10 yards of me. I easily pulled the pistol up and was trying to take aim when out of nowhere a buck came running out, chasing one of the does off. This was a nice 8-point buck that I hadn't previously seen. Before I could get the gun on it, the buck, along with one of the does, was gone. By this time, I was so nervous I had to catch my breath. I was hoping to get a chance to see the buck if it would run the doe back out. With all this going on, the other two does were acting spooked, as if they would flee any moment.
I sat still with my heart beating fast and watched the two does step off into the thick cover. During this time, I thought that maybe the buck would come back. I decided to use the grunt call twice and wait. Within seconds, off in the distance, I heard a twig break. This really got me shaking and the adrenaline was pumping. I did not even know if it was the deer or not.
Within a few seconds, a different buck stepped out of some thick cover. The buck was 35 yards away broadside. I picked up the pistol and tried my best to find it in the scope, but couldn't as I was shaking so badly. I brought the pistol back down, tried to catch my breath and relocate the buck. By this time, the nice buck has taken three steps but was still broadside. I brought the pistol up again, but I still could not get the deer in the scope. I knew that my timing was crucial. The monster buck had now taken another three or four steps. I raised the gun up, aimed and waited for him to move into the scope.
Finally, I saw movement in the scope and I located the deer with the crosshairs on its right shoulder and squeezed. The deer hit the ground right in its tracks.
My nerves were shaken, and I barely could hold up the gun. I sat for a minute before laying the gun down, thinking about how big this deer was. But it was more amazing that I actually took it with a pistol at 35 yards.
In 2004, I took and entered my pistol deer in the big buck contest at the Atlanta Buckarama. My buck won biggest deer in the pistol category and scored 133.