By Randall C Barnes
-- Every year, I travel to LaPlata, Mo., to hunt deer with a good family friend and her son. I take my two boys, and we have a blast whether we take a whitetail or not.
My friend’s 300-acre farm is in CRP and woods. She and her 13-year-old hunt the property, and if they are fortunate enough to take a deer, I offer to help get it out
Last season, my friend had a new tripod stand, but she was a little unsure about reaching in it in the dark, so I helped get them situated. I walked them to their stand, got them set up, and left to go to the area I hunt every year.
By then it was daylight, and I figured I didn’t get started early enough to have a good hunt. I drove my truck to within 100 yards of my hunting area, got my gun, coffee and a 5-gallon bucket and began walking to my spot. I don’t have a deer stand there; I always just sit at the edge of the woods on my bucket. I have a nice view overlooking a huge pasture.
Last year, I hadn’t been there 5 minutes when I spotted a doe and a buck walking out of the woods 300 yards distant. I hurriedly put the buck in my scope. It was a nice one, but I had no clue the rack was as big as it turned out to be.
I ripped off three shots with NO response from either deer. I quickly loaded two more cartridges, repositioned and fired a fourth shot. The buck never jumped, ran, reared, or anything -- he simply walked about 15 feet and lay down in the grass. His rack looked like a shrub bush that was turning back and forth. The doe sniffed him and walked off.
I knew he was done when he put his head down. Then, maybe 5 minutes later, a 12-pointer emerged from the same woods. He got within 30 feet of the downed buck, circled him twice, and then he started pawing the ground, snorting and rearing. He stomped the ground over and over, and then he turned and vanished in the woods.
After watching this scene for 30 minutes or so, I went to recover my downed buck. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I called my boys and told them I had just bagged a 19- or 20-point buck!
They thought I was kidding. Finally, I convinced them to come help field dress him -- no way I wasn’t going to leave this trophy -- and we oooed and ahhhhed over him and counted points -- all 25 of them. The rack was wide enough to place the 5-gallon bucket in with room to spare.
After field-dressing the buck, it took all three of us to load him in the back of my pickup. My son-in-law and his dad, who have been scoring deer for many years, green-scored the deer at 220 inches.
--Randall C Barnes