Even after 28 years, the details of taking a giant buck are crystal clear.
It started out as a typical hunting day but turned into an event that, even 28 years later, seems like yesterday.
On Nov. 11, 1978, deer season started off like any other. The alarm went off around 4 a.m., and I jumped out of bed and put on my blue jeans and red flannel shirt. Next, I grabbed my army field jacket, slipped on my boots and was ready to go. It was time to meet my buddy Tommy for our deer-season tradition of a hardy breakfast at George’s house.
After breakfast, we went to the farm we had been hunting for the previous 4 years. George and Tommy had taken big bucks on the farm, but I had not been so lucky. I think they only brought me along to help drag out their deer.
That day began with more hunter activity than deer movement. We met back at the truck around 9:30 and decided we needed to find another place to hunt. We started to drive some of the gravel back roads in Caldwell and Hopkins counties to see what we could see.
We were on a road in Hopkins County that borders a large strip mining operation when we came around a curve. There, in the middle of the road, stood an 11-point buck. We sat there and watched him for a couple of minutes through our binoculars before he walked off the right side of the road and disappeared.
We drove up to where the buck had been standing and tried to see if we could see it. The buck had gone down a grassy slope into a small cornfield. We got out and walked down to the cornfield and were amazed at the number of deer tracks.
The field was about 70 yards wide and 300 yards long. There were several other cornfields divided by ditches with heavy deer trails.
George, Tommy and I looked at each other and knew without saying that we needed to find out who owned this property to see if we could hunt there. We went back up the road about a quarter mile to a house we thought might belong to the property owner.
It did, and even better, he turned out to be Tommy’s distant relative. We asked him if we could deer hunt on his property, and he told us no one had hunted there for more than 16 years and he didn’t know if there were any deer there or not. He gave us permission, and we were three happy hunters.
We immediately went back to select spots for the evening hunt. As we came to a stump we had seen earlier, George said that it would be a great place to sit. He gave me first crack at the stump, which I accepted. George and Tommy went back to the large cornfield to set up.
By that time it was 2 p.m., and I can’t remember if we ate lunch or not because we were so all excited. The temperature was on the warm side, 65 degrees and sunny. With things finally settling down, I began to take in more of the surroundings.
There was a large pine thicket on the other side of the cornfield in front of me and a smaller pine thicket to my right.
That stump was getting pretty hard by 4 o’clock, and my back was tired. But it was also getting close to “prime time.” I heard some noise coming from the pine thicket in front of me. I didn’t see anything and began to frantically look back and forth between the two pine stands. The sun was getting lower, and because the field was in a low area surrounded by large trees, there was less light.
Finally, I saw a deer’s head in the pine thicket to my right. I took another glance at the pines in front of me, and when I turned back to look at the deer, it was already making its way into the cornfield. I could see that it was a large buck but couldn’t tell how many points because of the dark background of the pines. The buck was approximately 100 yards away and slowly walking into the cornfield.
I raised my Remington .30-06, found the deer’s shoulder in the scope and fired. The buck just stood there for a few seconds, which made me think I had missed. I frantically pulled back the bolt to chamber another round. Just as I was putting my eye back to the scope, the buck fell over. It was a good thing that he fell, because I short-chucked the bolt and never got another bullet in the chamber.
Not long after, George and Tommy came out and asked me how big my buck was. I told them I didn’t count points, but if I had to guess I’d say maybe it was the 11-pointer we had seen earlier. By the time we got to the deer, it was almost dark. As I put my flashlight on the buck and began to see how big the rack was and how many points were on it, I began to shake all over.
George announced that it was time to field-dress it, but when I pulled out my knife, I was shaking terribly. They just laughed and said they would do it because they were afraid I would cut someone. It was all I could do to hold the light. The buck had 18 points and field-dressed at 225 pounds.
The next morning, Tommy sat on the same stump and took a nice 9-pointer.
Now, even after all those years, I can still remember the feeling of walking up to that buck and putting the flashlight on him for the first time — and also the feeling of shared satisfaction from my good friends, Tommy and George.
My wife thinks it is strange that I cannot remember what took place yesterday but I can remember a deer hunt from 28 years ago. When you shoot a buck-of-a-lifetime, you remember every moment.
I never had my buck scored until 2006, when I took the mount to the NWTF Conference in Nashville, Tenn. Some 28 years later, this buck scored 189 2/8 inches as a non-typical for the Boone and Crockett Club record book.
This article was published in the October 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.