I was nervous the other day. I mean I was nail-biting, ulcer-style nervous. I was down to the last day on a hunt and I still had not found the buck to fit my “shooter” category and finish another TV show. On the last morning I slipped in to a field edge at dawn. The temperature dipped to zero, and I couldn’t pin down a mature buck despite the field brimming with deer. Next, I turned my attention to the timber behind me, thinking any mature bucks may have slipped back before shooting light. I rattled and rattled, but only pulled in one young buck. What was I going to do?
With no time to waste, I hiked up to the top of the river breaks to scan as much country as possible to see if I could locate a flurry of breeding activity on another corner of the ranch. After an hour I spied a mature, but broken-antlered buck trying to cross the icy river. He dove in and headed my way. I dove off the ridge, jogging to meet him along the river’s edge. Unfortunately, when I crawled to the bank he had turned back because a doe from my side broke the ice to meet him. Another buck followed her, and soon the bank was chaotic with buck action.
In a split second a mature buck raced out to chase another doe. I leveled my Nikon Monarch with nothing but a Texas heart shot in sight as he raced off. I couldn’t have been lower in the bummed department. Then, as quickly as the buck disappeared, he reappeared—running right at me. I cranked the scope up to 16 power and waited for him to stop. When he did, all I could see was the white of his throat patch, so I aimed and squeezed. The T/C Venture and Hornady 180-grain SST dropped him in his tracks, but gravity had more in store for me.
His limp body slipped down the slope and into the icy river, providing me with an opportunity to fill my boots with freezing water, yet recover a last-minute, respectable trophy buck. You can see more photos from the hunt on my Facebook page.
Here’s my Thanksgiving deer-hunting tip: Eat some turkey, then get back in the woods. Between my friends and I, we’ve killed many big bucks in the last days of the rut as they stray looking for one last fling.