By Raymond Reed
November 15, 2011, was the fifth day of the Missouri rifle season. My hunting partner, Billy Botos, had taken a nice 10-pointer earlier in the day, so I was on my own for the afternoon hunt.
I chose to spend my time on one of my club's leased properties. This place featured large cow pastures, CRP fields and bean fields that had been harvested.
I had a good feeling of anticipation as I drove through the gates entering a bean field. My truck struggled to make it up a particularly steep, muddy hill. Thankfully, it hadn't rained or my truck would have slid down the hill in that gray, Missouri mud.
I parked at an abandoned barn around 3 p.m. and made my way down a fencerow alongside the bean field which bordered CRP. It was a 300-yard hike to a great ambush site my brother and I had scouted months earlier. The spot overlooked a brushy draw that extended almost all the way across the bean field.
I walked along the fencerow until I got to the hotspot. I backed myself into the thick brush, set up quietly on the ground and waited.
There was no doubt deer were bedded in the thick draw, so I ranged the likely spot where they'd come onto the field at 175 yards.
I spotted movement on the other side of the field at 4:45 p.m. when a small 8-pointer emerged into the CRP. I let him walk, hoping two years from now, he'd be a very nice buck.
As the light faded, 10 more deer entered the bean field and began to graze, but none were bucks.
I decided to ease out and stalk toward the truck. I had gone about 100 yards when I noticed a deer standing on a hillside, looking in my direction.
I raised the binoculars and saw it was a doe but 50 yards behind her was another deer standing in the main road through the field. It had its head down and was quartering away to where I couldn't see if it had a rack.
Once it picked up its head, I knew immediately it was a buck. It had a big, square rack. I said to myself, now THAT'S a shooter!
The way it was positioned in the brush, the only shot I had was a neck shot. It wouldn't be an easy one at 200 yards, but I trusted my 7mm mag and gave it my best try.
After the shot, the buck didn't move at all. I couldn't tell if it had fallen or if was still standing there, so I chambered another round and shot again. It disappeared out of sight.
Now, at age 70, I don't run anymore, but I promise you this, I hustled over to where that big buck was stretched out on the hillside like a sprinter!
I called Billy and told him to get himself there and not to worry, because it had fallen in the road. There would be no tracking required to find my hog.
I later had my buck scored by Buckmasters, and its official BTR score is 149. Its composite score, with inside spread added to the official score, is 167 2/8.
A few minutes later, I saw headlights in the distance. Soon, Billy and our friend, Russ Colosi, arrived to help me celebrate the moment, as well as help me lift the big buck onto the tailgate.
Maybe this is the way I should retire from deer hunting, in my 19th year in the club, making a 200 yard shot on a great buck that fell where it didn't have to be dragged at all.
Strike that. God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be right back in Missouri for the 2012 season!