By Kyle Schwabenbauer
-- Some hunters might consider Bryan Busse to be a lucky guy. One reason is because he harvested a beautiful 167-inch buck on the second day of Indiana's 2007 firearms season. But an even better reason is that he shot the buck with a rifle he'd won the year before in a Buckmasters online contest. Although luck was surely involved in Bryan winning the rifle, it probably played a much smaller role when he took his largest whitetail to date.
Bryan's good fortune began back in August of 2006 when he received an e-mail from the Buckmasters contest staff explaining that he was the winner of a Thompson/Center Omega muzzleloader. "At first, I thought it was some sort of joke," Bryan said. "I called Buckmasters, and they said I was definitely the winner. I was floored!"
Although Bryan was excited to try his new rifle, he decided that the best use for it during the 2006 season would be to loan it to his father, Marvin. "I was still trying to take a deer with my bow," Bryan explained. Although his father didn't harvest a deer with the Omega that year, he was so impressed with it, that he bought an identical rifle for himself prior to the 2007 season. And after an unsuccessful archery season, Bryan was eager to hunt with his muzzleloader in the upcoming firearms season.
On Nov. 18, Bryan and his father were hunting together in a brushy funnel near some bean fields in Pulaski County. "It was overcast and cold, with a pretty good frost," Bryan said. "We had been waiting for an east wind to hunt that spot, and that morning, it was perfect." Bryan was hunting in one of his early season archery stands, and his dad's stand was about 300 yards away.
As the sky brightened, a few does appeared below Bryan's stand. Then at 7:45, he saw a large deer crossing the harvested bean field.
"I could tell right away that it was a nice buck," he recalled. At the edge of the field, the buck stopped and began working a scrape. Bryan wasn't sure which direction the buck would turn next, so he got out his calls.
"First I tried a doe bleat, but he wouldn't pay any attention," he said. "Then I got out my grunt call and grunted once." The buck looked Bryan's direction, but stood his ground. "I grunted again and he jumped the fence and headed straight toward me."
Bryan knew he wouldn't have much time for a shot in the thick brush.
"I had already decided he was a shooter, so I didn't even look at his rack after that," he said.
When the buck stopped at 20 yards, Bryan squeezed the trigger. The buck bolted, but didn't go far.
"I knew it was a good hit," Bryan explained. "I could see him fall from the stand, and he was down for good."
Even though the buck had expired, the buck's heavy 12-point rack kept its head propped above the ground. As Bryan approached the buck, he immediately recognized its white face from a deer he'd seen during a previous archery season.
Bryan used his cell phone to call his father and tell him the good news. "I didn't want to spoil his hunt, so I just told him I had one down and to come over when he was done hunting." Fifteen minutes later, Bryan heard the familiar report of a T/C Omega. His father had also taken a fine buck from his stand, an 11-pointer.
Not only did Bryan harvest a buck of a lifetime that day, with a muzzleloader courtesy of Buckmasters no less, he was able to share the experience with his father who also scored on a nice buck. There's no doubt that the memories Bryan and Marvin gained from that morning will be hard to surpass in their hunting careers.
Kyle Schwabenbauer is on the PA Sportsmen Portal Field Staff. Visit www.pasportsmenportal.com for more information.