By Clint Anderson
-- It was the second night at deer camp. We gathered around the fireplace, allowing its warmth to embrace us as we shared stories of the previous day. My uncle had harvested a nice 10-point whitetail, which was still in the back of his pickup after checking it in.
His truck was older, but reliable. Its blue exterior had faded to a light grey. As we talked, we heard the truck start. We looked around at each other. Then realizing that everyone in our camp was in the cabin, we ran for the door
My uncle’s truck was heading through the field, buck and all! Then as suddenly as it took off, it came to a stop after traveling about 100 yards.
Wide-eyed, we continued to watch, not believing what we’d just witnessed. My brother frantically searched for some flashlights. Our eyes strained to become adjusted to the night, trying to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator(s).
The air was cold. Flashlights now in hand, we headed for the truck. But there were no footprints, no tracks leading to or from the driver’s door. Shining the lights through the windows also revealed nothing.
The truck was empty.
Spooked, we decided to go back to camp and assess the situation. The desire to run back to the cabin was strong. However, fear of ridicule outweighed the dread of the unknown
Back in the safety of the cabin, we pondered what had just happened. Our theories and explanations carried us deep into the night. Finally, we decided to hunt the following morning and look at the truck at noon.
I woke up 30 seconds before my alarm was set to go off. My uncle was already at the table, and I could hear moans and shuffling as the other hunters began to stir. One by one they came in, raspy voices and crazy hair.
After a quick breakfast, we went over our plans once more. After a prayer for safety, and wishing each other good luck, we headed out.
As I approached my stand, I could see the stars shining through the trees and glistening off the snow. The wind was calm, and the only sound was the crunching of my footsteps.
I climbed into my stand, and immediately my thoughts went back to the previous night. Who or what had moved that truck? I was anxious to get back to explore the possibilities, but for now all that was behind me. I was after a buck, and that was where my focus needed to be.
The woods were still. Nothing was moving. After an hour, I heard snow crunching in the methodical rhythm of a deer walking. As I strained to pinpoint the location of the noise, it stopped. It was directly behind my tree.
Worried that my pounding heartbeat would betray my presence, I slowly turned. First I saw the nose, and then an eye, ears and a bald head. It was a doe! She fed on past me.
Suddenly ears went back and she glanced to the left. I followed her gaze and watched a buck emerge from a nearby thicket.
I slowly raised my rifle to my cheek and looked down to adjust my objective on my scope When I looked back, he was gone. Like a ghost, he’d vanished in the timber.
My eyes searched until they ached and watered. I was afraid to move for the fear he was watching. Minutes later, I caught a flicker of white. I looked hard into the brush and made out an ear. I put down my binoculars and raised my rifle again.
Looking through the scope, I caught a glimpse of antler, and then he stepped out. It was a nice 8 point, but I knew the bigger one was still in the area. I watched as the 8 point fed back into the thicket.
Two minutes later, he was back, munching on acorns. I had kept my rifle resting on my leg with the barrel pointing in the air, so just for fun, I sighted on the buck again.
It was HIM! Somehow, the smaller buck had worked his way up the hill, and the bigger buck had worked his way down to the bottom of the thicket.
I didn’t have time to get nervous, I aimed at the buck’s vitals and fired.
I started shaking uncontrollably. Even though I could see the buck 65 yards away, I didn’t want to climb down that ladder shaking so badly. I waited for 30 minutes, and then went to claim my trophy. It was a 10-pointer with long tines and lots of mass.
After field-dressing the buck, I headed for camp. I couldn’t wait to drop the tailgate and watch as the other guys forced a smile, telling me through clenched teeth what a nice buck I had. Two years earlier, I’d returned to camp thinking I had the biggest buck of the week, only to see an 11-point on the rack of a four-wheeler. Hopefully, this year would be different.
When I reached camp, my uncle and brother were admiring a nice 8 point my brother had taken. There were four or five other deer at camp, but mine was by far the biggest.
Then we decided to go check out the truck. We couldn’t find any footprints other than our own, and could not explain the truck’s strange journey.
We found out later that bare ignition wire had shrunk because of the sudden drop in temperature, allowing it to make contact and start the vehicle. The truck was in gear, so it just kept lurching forward until finally the wire was knocked loose.
It did provide for some interesting theories that night in the cabin, and earned the truck the name "The Grey Ghost."