By Wayne Barber, Jr.
-- Like many a Southern boy, I went to Illinois looking for a hunting adventure. Little did I know that I would actually have the hunt of a lifetime.
My good friend and owner of the Illinois Connection, Doug Benefield, was telling me emphatically at 2 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2008 while I was eating a late lunch that I should already be in the woods for the afternoon hunt.
I got with my guide, and he walked me across a huge bean field to a 24-foot ladder stand. He turned around to leave, and I began to climb the sticks with my muzzleloader slung over my shoulder. When I got to about 16 feet up, a doe came into view. Trailing behind her was a buck!
I began to kick myself, thinking about Doug’s admonition that I should have already been settled into the stand and ready for the shot.
I was determined not to let this buck get away, so I made the best of the situation. The doe jumped the fence coming toward me with the buck following close behind. As the buck cornered the doe, I realized I had an opportunity to take a shot.
After wrapping my safety tether around the ladder, I eased my TC Encore off my shoulder. While doing so, I accidentally pulled the teardrop trigger guard, causing the gun to make an audible click. The doe immediately looked my way and blew, but the buck didn’t move. I finally found the trigger and made a double-lung shot on the buck. Once the smoke cleared, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Before I had a chance to really celebrate, I felt something wet and noticed that it began raining blood from my head. Probably because of my awkward position on the ladder, the scope had cut my head wide open.
Still dripping badly, I climbed down to evaluate my injury. I used my cell phone to take a picture of head so I could see how badly I was cut and determined that I would live after all.
It was a long wait until dark when my guide would arrive and we could go get my deer, my head throbbing all the while. In the end, I bagged a 123-inch 8-point typical buck and got a nice little scar on my forehead to remember the occasion. Not a bad trade if you ask this crazy Georgia boy!
Wayne Barber, Jr.
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