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The One That was Meant to Be

Nelson SmitherBy Nelson Smither III

-- A few years ago, my wife gave me a snuggly pair of slippers for Christmas. The slippers are of the low-end K-mart variety. You know the type, blue corduroy outers with white imitation terry cloth insoles. The kind that aren't broken in good until the funky foot stains have matted up the fake terry cloth lining. So funky, the dog wouldn't even consider putting one in her mouth to chew on. Man, I love those slippers!

The 2001 bow season had been most uneventful for me. Worse yet, my job and honey-do chores had kept me largely out of the woods altogether this hunting season. I'd seen a few deer here and there, but nothing close to resembling an ethical shot had presented itself to date. My middle son, Dillon, and I had spent the better part of the weekend finishing off the construction of a sidewalk leading to our front door. We managed to get in the woods for a few hours Saturday afternoon but the gale-force winds resulted in chapped lips and ringing ears.

Oct. 29, 2001, was a relatively cool fall morning. I was pretty bummed about the lack of hunting action this season. To make matters worse, my best friend, Dave, and his father were tentatively scheduled to turkey hunt on his property that adjoins our 100-acre Stonewater farm that morning, while I had to work. I was in the midst of my normal routine of driving kids down to the school bus stop, when I heard a shotgun blast, originating from what I thought was Dave's property. It was simply too much to stand.

Since it was only 7:15, I had a solid hour that I could technically hunt before starting my work for the day. So, that's just what I did. I rushed back to the house, donned my coveralls and boots, grabbed my bow and slipped into the woods by 7:30 a.m. After observing the majority of Southern Virginia's squirrel population, but not a single whitetail, I returned to my home office around 8:30 and officially began my work day.

About 9 a.m., still in my hunting clothes, minus the muddy boots, which had a half-hour earlier been replaced with my snuggly blue corduroy bedroom slippers, I grabbed another cup of coffee and headed to the royal chamber for a little rest and relaxation. As I was about to ascend my throne, I noticed a buck feeding in the apple orchard 150 yards from my bathroom window.

Ahh, that must be my 6-point buddy, I thought to myself, taking another delicious slurp of java. I fished out my binoculars to take a peak at the little guy. A millisecond after the binos reached my eyes, I massive rack clouded the field of view, and I realized, this deer was NOT my little 6-point friend, but instead a very large bodied, very large racked typical 9-point Virginia Mountain Buck!

Sheepishly, I will admit, that for a couple of seconds the thought crossed my mind, that an easy way to deal with this situation would be to grab my trusty .30-06 and make light work of the gift bestowed upon me by the hunting gods.

I grabbed my bow off the dining room table, let Pearl, the dog, in the front door and slithered out and to the west side of the house, onward up the mountain due opposite the monster buck, to my east.

I trekked 150 yards up the mountain, turned and began to track down through a ravine parallel to my house, and the buck. About 200 yards into the gully, I realized that my release aid was still on the front seat of my truck and that I was still wearing my cozy, blue corduroy bedroom slippers.

After thoroughly cussing at myself for the situation I had put myself in, I expected the buck to be long gone. I continued on toward the creek that borders the east side of my property. Nearing the creek, I made a hard right and began a slow, low crawl, ascending up the ridge below my apple orchard.

Much to my surprise and enjoyment, the buck was still there feeding on clover as I neared the top. When I first spotted the buck, it was 50 yards above and to the south of my location. The buck closed the distance to 30 yards and turned broadside. Rising to my knees, I came to full draw and slowly, ever so carefully, released the shot.

At the sound of the string, the brute swung violently around to face me, towering above me there on my knees as the 75-grain Muzzy affixed to an Easton shaft destined for its ribcage, struck deep in the base of this brute's neck between the shoulder blades. Luckily, the brute expired within 30 seconds and 30 yards from where it stood when the arrow hit its mark.

Quick measurements indicated a 27-plus-inch neck, a 20-plus-inch spread and an estimated live weight around 225-250 pounds.

As for my snuggly, cozy blue corduroy bedroom slippers, they're a little funkier and a little grungier, but still keeping my toes warm and toasty as I pen this tale.

Nelson Smither III
1307 Greenleaf Place
Lynch Station, VA 24571

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