Hunting, Fishing, and Deer Camp

Southern Sky Outdoors

A Big Miss

A late season rattling session leads to heartbreak.

Last day of rifle season. Expectations were low but I was out there, sitting against my tree on cold, breezy December morning before daylight. My dad had dropped me off and headed up the mountain on the 4-wheeler. It was damp, but the leaves still had a little crunch to them. Daylight was close, but the clouds were obscuring it. Faint footsteps. Pretty certain it was a deer, I got in position with my .308 on my knee pointed down the ridge towards a small, open field. Deer! A doe quickly walked through the field. A second deer appeared from the same spot. Horns. I leveled the scope on the deer as it stopped in the field aas looked up the ridge, but not before turning my scope to 10 power. I knew it was decent buck, but the dim light kept me from telling if he was "good enough" for the farm standards. I opted to wait as the deer followed the doe out of the field. I caught one last glimpse of the buck from the side, and saw just enough horn to question my decision, but they were now out of sight. Maybe they'll cross the big holler below and I'll get another look. No such luck. I heard them break for the field as soon as they hit the bottom of the ridge. Deer! Back down the ridge a deer appeared just above where the other two had came from. Luckily, my rifle was still pointed that way, but I quickly realized it was a small deer...a button buck after a check through the scope. It crossed the ridge and disappeared. Silence. Some time had passed with not a squirrel showing up. As I did a standard check behind me, I saw a deer crossing the holler. A small deer, I still got the rifle around and checked the deer. Button buck...perhaps the same one I saw earlier. I eased the rifle down and watched the deer cross the holler, disappear under the edge of the ridge, and reappear 70 yards down the ridge. It wasted no time crossing the ridge and disappearing into the brush. I was alone again though not for long. Foot steps were coming up the ridge from where the button buck had disappeared, but just on the back side where I couldn't see. Finally, after getting directly across the ridge from me, the deer finally came up far enough so that I could see that it was the button buck. It crossed the ridge and ended up 20 yards above me. I'm busted I thought to myself as the button hit an opening and stared right at me. It was obvious he didn't like something, but thankfully, didn't spook and just turned and trotted up the ridge about 50 yards before going back to feeding and heading up the mountain. More time to ponder life and enjoy God's work.

9:00. I decide to hit the rattlin' bag. I had no sooner than crashed it into my hand and I heard something up the mountain. White tails...great. They disappeared. Damn. That went well. Might as well keep rattling. Couple brief sets and I put the bag down. Nothing. I was pretty much ready to write the morning off as I eased around and checked the holler again. Huge deer! No question what it was. With the tree I was sitting against between me and the holler, I eased the gun around and slowly slid down the tree and slowly rolled over on my side till I was almost in prone position with the rifle to my left shoulder. Another peak around the tree showed the deer was still coming. This was easily a 200lb deer on the hoof. I slowly got the gun in position as the deer approached 100 yards. While not left handed, I had done this before so I was comfortable. I found the deer in the scope. Hell of a buck. Dark horns. Focus. The deer had already got partly through an opening...my crosshairs settled right in front of his hams...absolute gutshot. I hesitated. Don't rush this. The deer took another step and stopped behind some brush. I watched through the limbs as it raised it's head up in some limbs. I needed to shift just a hair to get a more solid rest. The buck's head went to full alert and it felt like we made eye contact through the scope. He stomped his foot. Shit...it's now or never. I found what looked like a small opening to his vitals through the brush and pulled the trigger. The buck spun and tore off across the holler but then slowed to a trot. I quickly rolled over for a right-handed shot as I bolted another round in and tried to pick the buck up in my scope. A few brief looks but he was gone. I had missed!? What happened? I quickly called my dad, told him I missed a big buck, and to be ready, he had headed in that general direction, and hung up. I felt sick. What happened? This was an opportunity you can't afford to miss...I eased back into the position I had shot from and stared through the scope. It stood out like a shining star. About 30 yards from me, and another 60-70 yards from the deer was a tree top with a perfect bullet hole in it...through it...clean kill...on the tree...still sick.

My apologies for the lack of the pictures...I just couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the tree...it was just too brutal!

©Copyright - Southern Sky Outdoors, 2017