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When a Plan Comes Together

LandonBy Jake Landon

-- November 22, 2008, started off better than the day before.

I had missed several big bucks throughout that earlier day, so when I got up on the morning of the 22nd, I decided it was time to shoot some paper. I was using a new shotgun and had barely had time to shoot it before deer season arrived. It was time the two of us got better acquainted.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled the gun out of the case was that the rear sight was flipped down. I had wasted two boxes of shells the day before, but I was relieved to know I probably wasn’t the worst shot in the world and that a simple fix should get me back on target.

Repairs made and feeling much more confident, I met up with my father and headed for our hunting ground. The land we hunt consists of small tracts like little fingers. Dad and I figured that all the pressure from the day before might have pushed the deer into the smaller blocks of timber. We had a simple game plan: I would enter from the west and hunker down while he sneak his way into the woods from the east. With the small size of the woods, we figured anything slipping away from him would have to come by me, and anything trying to circle back around him might have to remain in sight for Dad.

The plan worked to perfection as I caught a glimpse of a whitetail rack slipping quietly through the heavy brush. It was still about 250 yards out, so all I could tell was that a buck was approaching. Suddenly, the deer broke into a trot into a bean field and not toward me. I saw enough to know I wanted to put a tag on the buck, and also that my opportunity to take a shot was quickly going away.

I put the sights on the kill zone and fired once, then again, and again. With an empty gun, I watched the buck stop in the field, wondering where the shooting was coming from. Without taking my eyes off the buck, I immediately began to reload. That’s when it hit me just how massive the rack was. If my adrenaline wasn’t pumping before, it went into overdrive at the clear sight of that headgear.

But before I could get the second shell in the gun, the monster buck fell over and didn’t move again.

I immediately fell to my knees, trying to collect my thoughts and calm down. When I was finally able to stand, I made my way toward the buck. The closer I got, the bigger the rack got and the bigger my eyes got. It was easily the biggest buck I had ever seen.

To really put the finishing touch on a perfect day, Dad ended up tagging a big 9-pointer that ran toward him after my shots. My buck was a 16-pointer that scored 221 7/8 composite inches for the Buckmasters Trophy Records system.

Jake Landon
Abingdon, Ill.

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