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The Buck That Almost Got Away

Scott FordBy Scott Ford

-- It was a clear, cold October morning. I crawled out of bed, grabbed my bow, kissed my wife goodbye and patted the dog on the head before heading out the door to my hunting spot.

Secluded in a little patch of woods surrounded by a trailer park and a new housing development, it doesn’t look like much. But when a friend and I scouted it a few weeks earlier, I found fresh scrapes and rubs and knew where I would hang my stand. I had taken a buck on the property the previous season, so my hopes were high.

When I got to my chosen area in the dark and unshouldered my treestand, I struggled to try to get the stand set up. I might not be a genius, but it didn’t take too long to realize I was at the wrong tree. Not happy about the extra noise and time, I found the correct tree and made the climb.

Not long after, the sun began to break the skyline, and the woods started to show some color. I made a few calls on my grunt tube, and was immediately interrupted by the sound of brush breaking.

I knew a buck was on its way, but I was caught off guard by how quickly it arrived.

I stood up, clipped the release on my bow and drew. Despite my quick action, the buck was already at 15 yards and still closing. My heart was pounding and my legs began to wobble a little with anticipation.

At about five yards, almost directly under my stand, the buck slammed to a halt. Of course it was right behind the first tree that I had started to climb earlier that morning. All I could see was a head with a nice rack and a hind quarter that would make some nice steaks and roasts.

The buck turned its head and looked right up at me. I didn’t have a shot, so I held my ground at full draw. Then, just a quick as he came, the buck hopped backwards and started back on the trail he came in on.

I thought, “Oh no! You have to be kidding me!” Then, at about 30 yards the buck stopped to look back one last time. I judged the distance and released, only to watch the arrow fly right over its back. Having seen and heard enough, my trophy took off into the brush.

My heart sank to my ankles and I sighed in disbelief. Feeling miserable, I dropped back into my seat. I replayed the shot in my head a few times, and it didn’t make me feel any better. Not wanting to even be there any more, I decided to head home.

I figured I should at least try the call one more time before I lowered my bow down, so I pulled out the grunt tube and sent a few notes in the buck’s direction.

Imagine my surprise when he showed back up right where he had disappeared and started to circle in toward me.

Not wasting any time, I nocked another arrow and got ready. This time the buck came in from my left and started to cross in front of the stand. He was slowly high-stepping through the leafy undergrowth at about 20 yards and was heading right into a good shooting lane.

Just as its shoulder hit the opening, I let out a “baaa” and stopped it. I put the top pin right where it needed to be and let the arrow fly a second time.

After watching the buck run and hearing a crash, I knew it was down. I was out of my tree in a flash, gathered my gear and packed up my treestand. I quickly called my friend and got him out of bed to come help me get my trophy.

The buck is a nice, even 8-pointer about 16 inches high and 16 inches wide.

Scott Ford
Carlisle, Pa.

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