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The Shaggy Dog

SavageBy Ronny Savage

-- Every year I look forward to the late muzzleloader season located in Northeastern Louisiana. The rifle season is only two weeks in that area and ends before the heat of the rut, but the late one-week muzzleloader season usually starts right in the post rut. Any serious deer hunter knows the phases of the rut and is in the field during this time.

I took vacation from work during four days of the late muzzleloader season and planned on spending a lot of time in the field, hoping a lovesick buck would somehow make his way past my blind. On the first morning as soon as I settled in the blind, I spotted some deer in one of my shooting lanes. I glassed them, but the light was too dim to determine if they were the lovesick bucks I hoped to see.

The closest of the three finally walked to within 60 yards of my blind, and I could see that it was a small 6-point buck. The other two deer disappeared into the brush. About 15 minutes after the three deer disappeared, a young buck, sporting a 90-inch rack, came out and sniffed around for a bit in the same area the other deer had traveled. I was definitely very excited and ready for the rest of the hunt after seeing these four deer within 20 minutes of each other.

The first afternoon was rather warm and the mosquitoes were buzzing a bit, but I was still very anxious and optimistic from seeing the two bucks at daybreak. Around 4:30, I heard crashing in the brush on the neighbor's property and all of the sudden a big buck busted out of the brush, running full speed. It crossed into the property, headed in my direction, but remained covered in the brush.

That big buck ran by within 50 yards of me, and I believe I bumped everything in that blind as I poked my muzzleloader out of each window as he passed by. I tried loudly bleating, but he wasn't slacking up and there was just too much brush in the way for a safe shot at a deer on the move. Once he disappeared, I was sitting there puzzled wondering why he was so spooked.

Then, I heard footsteps in the same direction. I readied my rifle and out popped a big fluffy white dog! I was angry at first, but then I calmed down because I knew I probably never would have seen the beautiful buck had the dog not spooked him in my direction.

The dog began to circle around as if he'd lost the track, and sure enough, he lost the trail in some standing water near by. The dog headed back in the direction from which he arrived, and I began to think that just maybe that big buck would realize "Fluffy" wasn't on his tail any longer and start to ease back toward his home territory -- possibly within range of my blind.

Just 30 minutes later that same big buck stepped out of the brush and posed a broad side at 150 yards. I could not believe my eyes! I settled my muzzleloader for the shot and fired. At the shot, he hunched and made a mad dash for the brush. I quickly reloaded and climbed out of the blind to search for sign of a hit. As I neared the area where the buck entered the brush, I could see it lying a mere 50 yards from the point of impact.

How lucky can a guy get! I owe a nice fresh pork chop to ole' "Fluffy."

The buck sported eight points with a couple of broken tips from fighting and weighed 195 pounds. This is certainly a great buck for the area and not too shabby for my muzzleloader. The buck will definitely have a permanent place on my wall with a great memory to last a lifetime.

Ronny Savage
Minden, La.

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