the Thanksgiving buck

Posted November 30th, 2011 by Wade

so headed to the ranch wednesday afternoon with all the gear.  seriously, it took a 4door and a trailer with no passengers to get all the gear to the ranch.  ridiculous.  but this was a full fam time with deer hunting number one on the list, bronco rides and etc all coming in secondary.  wasnt able to get in the field in time wednesday, but S and I got all our respective gear together to start hunting thursday morning.

5am came early after a horrible night’s sleep.  gathered my stuff and gathered up S.  I could tell she was excited by how quickly she popped out of bed to go.  not many 9 year olds, much less 9 year old girls, will get up more than an hour before sunrise to go sit in a deerblind.  but we did.  coffee, hot chocolate, snacks and etc in tow.  was really foggy so even when the sun was up, was difficult to see deer in/around the pen.  could see some smaller deer wandering around that didnt interest us until I noticed a good buck come in.  even thru the fog could make out he had a good rack.  watched him jump into the pen with a bit of a hobble to him.  put some glass on him and counted points.  10.  my heart skipped a little bit.  is this the one?  counted again and again.  brought up my rifle and cranked the scope way up.  even thru the fog I confirmed 10.  looked him over some.  big body, roman nose, and again a little bit of a hobble as he walked.  like an old man walks when his arthritis is acting up.  S and I talked about it and decided she should try for a shot after the fog finally lifted somewhat.  she got situated for a shot with the rifle set correctly on the sandbags and watched for her shot.  the dang deer would only give us 2 to 3 seconds of broadside before he’d move to either face us or face away from us.  S never got comfortable for a shot and I didnt press her to make too fast of a shot that might end in a miss or worse, a wounded deer.  then something spooked the big guy and he took off out the back of the pen.  I whistled loud and hard at him to try and stop him long enough for a shot, but that tail shot up and he was gone.  S and I talked about how it was better to let him go without risking a bad shot, than to rush a shot that was less than ideal.  not 15 minutes later I heard a shot and the distinctive “thump” following, registering a hit from another shooter.  and in the direction the buck left.  I was silently heartbroken.  but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  S and I finished the hunt with nothing else of interest and  headed in to start working on thanksgiving lunch.

after a good gorging on all that you associated with T Day, S and I headed back to the blind for the afternoon hunt.  no big dudes, but we saw a few deer and had some good time spent together.  that evening S was saying she might want to sleep in friday morning.  I ribbed her a little by saying “OK, but I’m going and if I see that 10, he might come home in the back of the truck….”.  she didnt find that funny and decided to hunt.  so we got up early again and headed to the blind.  we were entertained for a while by a spunky yearling running full tilt around the clearing we hunt.  bouncing around, flipping its tail around.  generally acting like a little kid.  at one point in a high speed turn/spin/thing the little kid actually fell down!  S and I got a pretty good laugh out of that.  a little while later I see a good rack coming in.  glass him and realize its the same deer!  he’s back!!  got S situated again.  talked to her about the shot “wait till he’s broadside.  put the crosshairs centered on his shoulder and squeeze, dont jerk, the trigger”.  same game as the day before.  deer kept making turns or standing behind the feeder legs, etc.  finally he was quartered to us a little and S felt confident.  she clicked the safety off, took her time, and sent one downrange.  its a hit!  could tell by the reaction of the deer it was a good hit.  big guy goes down.  nerves and animal energy have him moving for about a minute but you could tell he wasnt going anywhere.  I’m high fiving S.  squeezing her.  rubbing her back.  fist pumping.  about the only thing I didnt do was the macarena.  (if I knew how to do it, I might have tried)  hit the stopwatch and say “we’re waiting 15 minutes just to be safe”.  let me tell you, I’m not sure for whom those minutes were the longest (probably me).  finally we gathered our stuff and went to go get the truck.  backed it up to the pen.  I hoisted S over the top and jumped in myself.  checked the deer…..what a deer!  and the hooves….never seen hooves like that in person.  long and ugly.  couple of quick iphone pics and then struggled to get the big dude in the bed of the truck.  with only a 9 year old helping, it was a handful, but we got it.  back to the house and the fam all comes out to see the buck and congratulate the hunter.  then to the barn for pics and processing.  I think.  honestly, I’m not real sure.  cloud 9 was somewhere below where I was floating.

rest of the weekend was standard ranch fair.  bronco rides.  fishing for catfish in the stocktanks.  hanging out with the family.  but for me, and I’m betting for S, Thanksgiving 2011 was all about a 10 point buck.  the first for my oldest hunter.  we dropped him off with my buddy T the taxidermist for a shoulder mount.  he’ll take his rightful spot on the trophy wall (or maybe in the house.  if S had her way, he’d be hung  in her room)  a mounted deer is considered a trophy.  to me, that deer represents a moment frozen in time with my S.  where, much like being in a tunnel, nothing on the outside could get us.  it was just me, her and the Thanksgiving buck.


show’em what a little girl’s made of;  gunpowder and lead

-Miranda Lambert, Gunpowder and Lead

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