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Thank Goodness for Rip Van Winkle

SwinneyBy David L. Swinney Jr.

-- About seven years ago, I went hunting with a friend of mine. His grandfather had some private land that he allowed us to hunt. We were in northeast Oklahoma during rifle season, so it was the week of Christmas. It was a dry and cold morning, and we arrived about a half-hour before sunrise.

I picked a spot on the ground up against an old oak tree, facing south. To the west of me was a 10- or 15-acre open field. I was sitting parallel with the edge of a tree line that went down to the east of me. There was a nice open path that followed the hill to the tree line, with what I call a small island of trees that sat about 10 yards in front of the tree line. And behind me, north, was a cow pasture.

After waiting maybe three or four hours, I was ready to move. But just around the time I was getting ready to change locations, I noticed some movement between the tree line and the island of trees. So I waited to see what would come of it. It was another 30 minutes or so before several deer finally came through the island of trees. There were four does and one yearling.

I would have taken a doe, but I only had a buck tag. So I waited to see if there might be a buck following the doe, because the rut was in full swing. After about 15 minutes of watching the does play at the bottom of the hill, I saw more movement between the two tree lines. Finally, a buck stepped out of the island. I raised my rifle and looked through my scope only to see sun spots.

Luckily, the buck stayed around long enough for the sun to go behind some clouds. I could tell this was a monster - well he was to me - so I locked my crosshairs on its chest. The buck was quartered toward me, so I did not have a good shot. The buck finally stepped to where I could get a good shot. I don't know what happened - I guess it was the buck fever - but I took my shot I missed.

The buck was about 100 yards downhill from me. As soon as the deer heard the shot, it made a straight line up the hill directly toward me. As it got closer, I could fill the ground shaking, which made my adrenaline pump even faster - remember this is my first kill.

When the buck got about 5 yards in front of me, it finally saw me and made a hard left turn. I guess it was the spirit of the wild in me, but I raised my rifle, too close to use my scope, I aimed and fired.

The buck dropped dead in its tracks only no more than five steps from where I was sitting. The deer was so close when it hit the ground, I could literally feel the earth move. After about 20 minutes of my entire body shaking from adrenaline and fear, I approached my trophy buck.

Then I screamed to the top of my lungs with excitement, "It's 13 points; it's 13 points!" After all was said and done, the buck weighed 150 pounds field-dressed, and the taxidermist counted it as a 14-point non-typical.

When I found my partner, he was asleep in the woods. All those deer had walked right past him.

David L. Swinney Jr.
Owasso, Oklahoma

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