This story is like many stories you hear when talking with a group of hunters. Of course like fishing, it’s a story about the one that got away. I have had lots of decent and a few monster bucks within viewing distance while hunting, I have been lucky enough for a few to get close enough for a shot. But on this cold November morning early in my hunting career, I was more than lucky, I was amazed and then shocked.
It was a normal November morning in Maryland; it was right before gun season started, so I was bow hunting. I had not yet started hunting out of a tree stand, so I was ground hunting. I had seen a ton of deer that morning, about 10 does and a very respectable 6 point buck that was trying to get his groove on that morning. However, I could not get a clear shot on any of them. Around 8 in the morning, I see movement coming from a thick part of the woods. I can tell it is a big deer, but I just cannot tell what it is…a doe or a buck. I quickly stood up from my tree seat and raised my bow knowing that if the deer caught my movement when it was closer it would be gone. The deer finally walked out into a clear patch about 75yrds away, it was a giant (at the time the biggest deer I had seen) he started heading down towards my part of the woods. He got about 50yrds away and was cutting across the trail; had he continued on the trail he was on would have come around a large patch of briers and right into a clearing at about 22yrds from me broadside. Of course it’s a whitetail buck, he has to do something different than what you want or have set up for. As I was pretty young at this time, my heart was pounding and when he changed direction, I thought it was all over with. He started walking the other direction which meant one thing to me, he was heading out of the woods I was in and cut across a field to head down towards a river bottom staying about 50 or so yards away from me. Then with a quick grunt out of my trusty grunt tube he stopped, another grunt and he grunted back and started walking straight at me. Yes, I know the odds of this happening are not the best, but this one time it worked. He walked straight at me for what seemed like an hour but was less than 2 minutes, first he was 45yrds then 40yrds away, and then he stopped and grunted himself and started walking about. Soon he was looking right at me as he was walking straight for me. I was taught never to shoot a deer in the breast plate, to only take broadside or quartering away shots. So finally, there he stands 14yrds from me looking straight at me, a beautiful massive 10pt buck whom from the size of his body and antlers looked to be a 6 ½ year old deer. He must have had 10” or 12” g2’s. There I stand on the ground, holding a bow shaking at this point between holding my bow up for so long, nerves, and the fact that I had no clue what to do at this point. Well to make things worse for me, the deer laid down facing me, the only thing I have a shot at is his head. So from 8:30ish until when my father got on the walkie-talkie and asked if I had seen anything, which felt like days, turned out to be an hour. I stood there looking at this giant, he did not seem to of noticed I was there, lucky for me I guess. By the end of the hour, all nerves had taken over, how long was I going to have to wait for him to stand up and give me a shot, and would I be able to draw my bow when he did get up without spooking him. Well, the answer is that he finally stood up still facing me. I did not have a shot because he stood so that his body was behind a large oak tree. Then he turned around and walked dead away from me right to where he came from. The only shot in the hour and forty five minutes I watched him was either dead on into the breast plate. At the time, I was only shooting about a 45lb draw weight and that could of left him wounded. The second one was while he was laying down I had a couple different angles on his neck. Seemed risky to me and I would of wanted a shoulder mount on him and it would of ruined that. Plus being on the ground, I do not think I could have drawn my bow back with him at all 14yrds and not had him run away. He is my close encounter that got away.
I have thought about this deer a lot and every time I see a mature buck since, it still pains me when these close encounters happen and all you have is a story and a memory.
What do you think, what would you have done if you were in my shoes?