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The Shot of my Life

FullerBy Gregg Fuller

-- My hands were trembling as I slipped the safety back on my Remington rifle. I was breathing hard and wondering how I had made the best two shots of my life. The evening was just getting to be big buck time. My watch told me that the sun was about to set along the creek. It had been cold, but now the warmth of adrenalin was about all I was feeling, maybe along with a sense of true accomplishment.

I thought that I could actually hear the 12-foot tripod stand creaking with my shaking body as I tried to stand. Suddenly, I slumped back into the cold seat and tried to control of my emotions before I did something stupid like break my neck.

The afternoon hunt on my deer lease near the Texas town of Comanche began as most other evening hunts with the exception of the cold front moving into the area. I was watching the weather forecast and eating lunch in my travel trailer. The forecast warned of high winds from the north, freezing rain and up to three inches of snow.

I knew that I would not be able to leave the property for days, and that was okay with me. Even though I was alone on the 400-acre ranch, I did have a cell phone which gave me some measure of comfort. I always try to keep a positive outlook even when things look bad. The 12 o'clock news reported that things were going to get really bad. It was 120 miles home to Fort Worth, and I knew that if I didn't leave by 3 p.m. I would be here until the roads cleared up. Shoot, it was 20 miles to the nearest town, and several miles of bad clay road to the nearest neighbor. I was there for the duration.

About 3 p.m. I loaded up my 4-wheeler with too many clothes for the warm temperature it was at that time, but I leaned years before to heed the words of Texas weathermen. While rarely right, I could read a weather map well enough to know it was about to get bad! I put a water bottle, and some snacks into my backpack and put my .270 into the front rifle rack of my ATV wrapped in an old Army poncho. I have lived through more than 30 years of hunting this general area of Texas for 30 to 40 days of the 60-day rifle season. This was not my first rodeo by any stretch of the imagination, and I would be as prepared as possible for any weather condition.

I drove my tripod location feeling that something good would happen. I had hunted many foul weather days before, and knew the animals would try to feed as long as possible before the bad weather set in. It was one of those days your body could feel the barometer dropping. I parked my ATV and threw on the camo cover about 100 yards from the tripod.

Climbing into the tripod was always a questionable proposition with a left artificial knee that only bent about 90 degrees, but the warmth of the wind gave me the confidence I needed, and I settled in for the evening. By 4:30 I already had several does and smaller bucks feeding.
The gusty southern wind calmed for a few minutes and then turned with a vengeance from the north. I zipped up my insulated coveralls and put on some light cotton gloves as the temperature fell what must have been 10 degrees every 5 minutes. It was getting cold fast and starting to spit rain when I saw a doe running about 90 yards out. This was the peak of the rut and I knew what was behind her without seeing it.

I put my rifle onto the rest in one slow but deliberate motion as the buck entered my field of view. All I could really see of this buck was its width, lots of width, with very heavy beams. The doe continued toward me until it was about 70 yards out, then it cut hard back toward the creek and the dense cover. I knew the buck would follow her every move so I flipped the safety off as the buck approached her turning point. My .270 barked as he turned to follow the doe. The buck went down like a sack of potatoes.

The deer was a really wide 8-point buck that had a 23-inch outside spread, a deformed right beam that was probably only 14 or 15 inches long with a split G2. Its left beam was massive and at least 24 inches long with a long G2 and an acorn tipped G3. The buck's 4-inch bases carried all the way to its G3s.

This wasn't the largest buck I've ever taken, but it certainly was a real brute.

It took me an hour or so to finally get the buck onto my ATV and get it back to camp. I sat down under a spotlight in a blowing sleet storm for an hour just looking at the big buck and thinking that I was again alone, with no one to take my picture. It seems that the best things I accomplish are usually when I hunt alone, but this time I really didn't care.     
-- Gregg Fuller

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