By David Rehrig
-- Opening week of Georgia’s general gun season was warm — too warm for deer to be moving much. But even a bad day hunting beats a good day at the office, so I was sitting in a low box tower underneath a power line right of way, feeling the wind blow over my bare arms.
Two stray dogs came trotting down the deer trail I was watching. This only added to my thoughts of "This is not going to be a good day." I glassed the dogs and watched how they played without a care in the world as they ran directly under my stand.
A half hour before dark, a large male coyote stuck his head out onto the power line. Our club has a policy of shooting coyotes, but at more than 300 yards distant, this one looked like a dot on the horizon through my scope. I let him pass. He meandered around, as coyotes do, and then started loping directly towards my stand. When he got close enough for a shot, the 7mm WSM found its mark. He dropped very close to a deer crossing, which only added to my doubts of seeing deer.
Minutes before the last of safe shooting light, I took one last look before unloading and heading to the truck. Just past the coyote, I could see the head and shoulders of a nice buck. He stood perfectly still, as if posing for a picture. Whether he was trying to figure out the coyote, or looking me over, I’ll never know.
The shot would be a little over 200 yards, not easy, but doable with the 7 mag. Without further delay, I pulled the trigger. It looked like a good hit.
I sat for a few minutes to let my heartbeat return to normal. As I packed up my gear, it occurred to me that it would be dark by the time I reached the downed buck. The darkness, coupled the thought that I had to find the deer, kicked my heart rate back up and put a little worry voice in my head.
Soon, I found where his trail entered the thick underbrush, which was loaded with beggar’s-lice. You could park a truck there and not see it from 20 feet. It was a good thing I hunt Georgia whitetails and not Cape buffalo. Not finding any blood and losing the trail, I kept circling through the brush, all the while catching in the tangled vegetation and getting covered with those little seeds. After 15 minutes of this, I was wore out and stopped looking, figuring a small dose of that sweet Georgia breeze would help. But then I picked up that whiff of buck you catch when you are on the animal. It took me a minute figure out what was happening. Which way is the wind blowing? After stumbling through the brush into the wind, there was my "trophy," not 10 feet from where I stopped to rest.
I burst through the brush with the buck, and got him out to the power line road. Finally getting a good look at him in the truck’s headlights, I saw he was a 4 by 3, with his right-side antlers much smaller than the left. As our family hunts primarily for meat, this was indeed a trophy for me.
Heading back to the camp in the truck, I realized that I’d not put on the protective seat covers, as I figured I would be sitting in a nice box stand. Turns out the deer, the truck seat and I were covered with beggar’s-lice. I spent three hours digging them out of the truck. So when I look at this small "trophy" rack, I can laugh out loud as I say this is my "Beggar’s-Lice Buck."
-- David Rehrig
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