By Justin Vee
I am 22 years old. I grew up in New Ulm, Minn. I absolutely love hunting. I take advantage of both rifle and muzzleloader seasons here in Minnesota, and I also hunt as a nonresident in Wisconsin.
On opening day of Wisconsin's 2008 rifle season, I was in my stand about an hour before sunrise. The land near Wausau belongs to my father-in-law, and the stand is on the edge of a big woodlot flanking CRP.
I saw only a doe during the first couple of hours, but I was holding out for a buck. At about 9:30, I heard what sounded like a truck door slamming. I figured my father-in-law was coming to pick me up -- way early -- possibly because the other hunters in the group were getting chilly.
"Wimps," I thought.
Soon after that, I saw a buck running toward me (from the road's direction). It stopped about 30 yards from my tree, though I had no shot. Moments later, I saw a ball of orange (my father-in-law) walking my way. He'd seen the deer on or from the small gravel road, stopped, and was trying to push it to me or his son, who was hunting nearby.
I didn't know what he was up to. So, worried that he might spook the buck, I panicked. If he walked to my stand, he'd pass within 30 yards of the deer he didn't even know was there.
While he was walking across the field, I began waving my arms around like an airplane traffic controller, trying first to get his attention, and then to steer him in another direction that might push the buck in my lap.
Somehow, by the grace of God, my father-in-law realized what I was trying to do and changed course. About five minutes later, the buck decided it had better slip out of there. Probably thinking it could outsmart the old gentleman behind it, the buck took its time and simply walked away from the oncoming threat.
When it reached a small clearing behind me, I knew that would likely be my only opportunity. Though there were a lot of branches and brush between us, I raised my 7mm Mag and squeezed the trigger.
I quickly chambered another round and tried again, dropping the deer. Afterward, I was doing arm pumps and high-fiving myself. I was a cheerleader in my stand.
A few minutes later, my father-in-law reached me. I pointed to where the deer was lying, but he didn't understand. I finally resorted to yelling, "He's down. I dropped him!"
"Where?" he yelled back.
I pointed, and he walked over to it. "ALLLLLLRIGHT JUSTIN!" he exclaimed. "It's a real nice buck."
As soon as I got down the tree, however, he told me we needed to drive the woods because everyone else was waiting for a chance at a deer. I didn't even get to see my buck up close.
I was fidgeting and whining the whole time we walked those woods. Finally, about two hours later, I got to see my deer up close. It was a sight and a hunt I'll never forget.