“Don’t shoot unless it’s something really big”

BANG! It was really big.

Thanksgiving weekend. Hunting with a close friend. The night before we had agreed to not shoot this morning, Nov. 26, unless we saw an exceptional deer. The reason? Our longtime deer processor had retired, and we learned that other places are not taking in new deer. With our younger days well behind us, we did not relish the task of field dressing and processing the deer ourselves.

It was very cold, with a crystal blue sky, facing a light NW wind, and a beautiful sunrise. A perfect day, and good conditions. I was hunting over a good-looking green field, surrounded by thick woods, on top of a rugged mountain in Ashe County, N.C. At 8 a.m. I glanced to my left and there stood a really mature doe, where she poses, broadside, 75 yards away. On any other day I would have taken the shot, but on this day the agreement is uppermost in my mind. I did take a shot – of the photographic kind, before she grazed her way across the field and is hidden behind a white pine. I glanced back to my left and there on the edge, where the doe entered the field, stands a buck. He was obviously trailing.

I recalled the advice of a friend who started me deer hunting: “Look at the body first, then the antlers to decide if it’s a shooter.” Well, I saw a big body, and a spectacular rack. I think my hunting buddy would approve of me taking the shot. No time to waste; he’ll be gone in a second.  I grabbed my Remington 700 with a Zeiss Duralyt 3-12×50 scope and gently squeezed off the shot. All of 20-30 seconds had passed. The .308 150 grain round struck him slightly behind the shoulder crease, and he jumped straight up, then bolted full speed out of the field and down the mountain. Elation turns to apprehension, because I’m now dreading a long downhill tracking exercise. And if we find the deer, we will have to drag him back up the mountain. Did I mention our younger days are well behind us? This could be bad. Fortune favors the (b)old, however, and we found him a mere 40 yards away down the mountain, lying against a pine tree. He was a 5 1/2-year-old 12-point buck that weighed 210 pounds and had a green score of 171. I’ve previously taken good bucks, but nothing like this one.

What a day. What a blessing. The deer of a lifetime, and yet another priceless outdoor memory shared with a good friend who agreed with my taking the shot!

–Alan Kuester; Charlotte, NC


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