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The Dempsey Buck

SheldonBy Seth Sheldon

-- On opening day of the 2008 deer season, Jim Dempsey, a good friend of my grandparents, passed away. He had been battling cancer for more than three years. Jim and my papa were good friends and even better hunting buddies.

Jim had an old deer house on my papa’s land for over 15 years. When I learned of his passing, I decided I would get in his stand, shoot a buck and dedicate it to him. I never would have imagined the buck I would take would be a Missouri monster.

After the first day of the Missouri rifle season, I had seen a bunch of does and little bucks, but nothing I wanted to take. I decided to try my luck again the next day. After numerous hours of sitting in the stand with no action whatsoever, I was beginning to get a little frustrated. At around 4:30, I looked behind me to check a little patch of timber, and saw a heavy rack barreling through the thick brush.

I turned around quickly and grabbed my .25-06 out of the corner of the stand. Preparing to shoot, I raised the rifle and looked through the scope, but I couldn’t find the deer! I was only turned around for three seconds, and already the buck had disappeared.

I anxiously glassed the spot where I’d seen the huge deer. I didn’t take my eyes off of the spot for 5 minutes. Then I noticed movement a bit farther up in the timber. It was him! A hot doe was with him and took off running out of sight. The big buck was sure to follow. 

I quickly put my crosshairs on the buck, but the only part that was showing was his head and neck. I knew I had to shoot right then and there. I aimed for the neck, and slowly squeezed the trigger. The buck immediately dropped in its tracks. I smoked him!

I couldn’t wait to put my hands on that big rack. After waiting about 15 minutes, I couldn’t take it any longer, so I got down and headed towards my buck. I knew there wouldn’t be any ground shrinkage on this one.

When I got up to him, I knew I’d taken something special. I picked up the antlers and was amazed by this huge 10-point buck with split G2s on both sides. I noticed that the right brow tine was broken. A non-typical tine on the left side had broken off as well. That would have made him a huge 12 point. I knew he had been the dominant buck in the area and was fighting a lot.

I’d hoped to take a buck to honor Jim Dempsey. The heavens must have sent that buck down for me. 

Rest in peace, Jim Dempsey. We miss and love you.

--Seth Sheldon

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