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Too Much Bang for the Buck!

Peter PorterBy Pete Porter

-- It was the last Wednesday of the Vermont regular deer season in 2003, and I was hunting with my nephew Everett and my friend Pete Desorda. We had been doing drives all day and were quite beat. Everett had enough by 2:30 p.m. and went home. Pete and I went to the farm I've hunted since I was a kid and set up in stands for the evening hunt.

I put Pete near a pond where I'd had very good luck over the past 10 years. Then I went down over a steep bank behind a friend's house and set up where I had taken my best 6-pointer of my life on a prior year.

This stand had allowed several good deer to be taken, including an 8-pointer that my friend Leon Kenyon had killed out of it with my gun and bullets, before cleaning it with a knife I had given him.

I was sitting in some thick whippets and hadn't seen a thing. I was there for 3 hours or so and hadn't seen a blue jay or a red squirrel. I was somewhat disenchanted to say the least before I suddenly heard a noise off to my left. I pivoted to see a doe coming up the bank and cutting in behind me. The doe was 35 feet away and didn't see or smell me.

A minute later, I heard another noise following the same path. I didn't need binoculars to see the antlers on this deer! The buck was tall and wide. I aimed at an opening that I expected the deer to enter and buck obliged me. I shot it with the gun that my brother David wanted me to have after he died. The deer dropped!

I called Desorda on my radio and the deer came unglued. It started thrashing its antlers in the whippets. Remembering that deer 2 years ago that ran into a tree and broke off both main beams on me, I became quite concerned. I was in a dilemma. If I didn't call Desorda, it was going to be dark soon. If I did, the deer would thrash hard in the whippets. I called Desorda. The deer thrashed.

Then, the buck stood up and headed downhill. I sent another bullet flying into it and the deal was done.

Desorda finally arrived, and we got the buck out of the woods and hauled it to the check-in station. The buck dressed out at 211 pounds, was 5 1/2 years old. He scored 104 2/8 BTR with a 17 7/8-inch inside spread, for a composite score of 122 1/8.

The next year, I went to hunt in Canada for 10 days during the Vermont archery season. However, some things came up back home, and I had to leave early. After I got home, I decided to put up my treestand near the ground blind I used in 2003, with the intentions of seeing more land and raising my scent.

After I got the stand up, I returned to my truck and started back home. Not far down the road, I saw a huge buck off to my right, with a nice rack. However, I wasn't sure if bow season was still on or if it ended the previous weekend.

I called Wayne Barrows at Barrow's Trading Post and asked him when the season ended. He replied, "This coming Sunday." I told him I saw a really nice buck right near the road, and he said, "Well, get out of the truck and let him have it."

Heeding his advice, I parked down the road and sneaked back up. Fortunately for me, there were an unusual number of cars coming up the hill. I would run as fast as I could when they went by to hide my sound. When the last car went past, I was about 30 yards from where I expected the buck to exit the small ravine it was feeding on.

I knelt down behind a tree with a shooting lane between the barbed wire fence and over some fallen trees. When the buck hit the opening, I found my target and started to draw my bow. Just before the cam let off, my left forearm popped and I felt muscles shifting. If I didn't have a release it would have been all over right then. It hurt. Later, I found out at the doctor's office that I had ruptured a tendon in my forearm.

But I digress ... I aimed and shot. The arrow clipped off a twig and hit the deer. The buck took off. I had no idea where I had hit him. I gave it 10 minutes and then quietly went to the place where the buck was standing when I shot. There was no blood.

I found my arrow 4 feet up a fallen tree lying horizontally and covered with blood. The razors were as sharp as when it was fired - it didn't hit any bone. I went about 10 yards and found blood. At this point, I decided to not push the deer, so I left him until the next morning and went to have my arm examined.

I went home and iced my arm and got an appointment for 10:30 the next morning. But at first light, I was out looking for the deer. I tracked it 200 yards with bits of blood here and there. I then lost blood sign. I went to my appointment and stopped at my friend Jack Gramling's house and grabbed his son Corey to help in the search. Since I had an appointment with a specialist at 4:00 p.m., we didn't have much time.

We followed the flags I'd left in the morning to the last blood sign, and I had already checked everything off to the left, so I sent Corey down the center while I went off to the right. We worked our way back and forth another 85 yards to the next lower shelf. While we were checking out some 3-foot high ferns, we found the buck.

Its rack was huge for Vermont. The BTR was 115 7/8 with a 21-inch inside spread for a composite score of 136 7/8.

I shot this buck less than 100 yards from my stand where I took the other 8-pointer in 2003. Holding the racks side by side, it is easy to see that the deer have the same genetics. They have the same curves in their antlers, the start of a drop tine in exactly the same spot, a bump in the same spot. Odds are my last year's kill was this one's father or they had the same father, which just might still be up there hooking trees. I can hope!

Pete Porter
White River Junction, Vermont

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