The Sampson Buck
2012 Cattaraugus County Hunt

By Dale Sampson

It started out as a usual season in one of my favorite stands with very little excitement. But little did I know, that was going to change very quickly. I did have a little excitement in the morning with a large coyote ambling by my stand, but nothing with horns crossed my path that first morning. I had made plans for my seventeen year old daughter, Kaitlin, to join me later the same day. This would be her very first experience with whitetail deer hunting. Another thing that made the day special was that my 82 year old father, Philip Sampson, would be joining in as well.

After a brief recess for lunch those in our hunting group, which numbered about eight people, decided to put on a drive in a property adjacent to the one I was on in the morning. It was quickly determined who would be pushing and who would be on watch. My daughter Kaitlin and I were posted on stand near a very large maple tree we called "Davy Crockett". Now mind you, I have hunted this area all of my thirty-five plus years of hunting deer and have never taken a deer on this property... this day was about to change that!

Kaitlin and I got to our spot and settled down with some expectation of seeing deer as this was the first deer drive of the season. We did not have to wait long before we started to see deer moving through the woods below us and, as luck would have it, one was a small buck . I quickly got Kaitlin pointed in the right direction with her gun and we trying to get on the small buck, but we were not able to "git 'er done" as the saying goes.

Things settled for a couple of moments and Kaitlin whispered to me that she had seen some movement to our right and sure enough here came more deer. With very little straining we both could see that the last one in the bunch had a significant amount of antlers. I coached her again to get pointed in the right direction and waited for a clear shot for her, but as this was all unfolding she was not looking too confident. She looked at me and said, "Daddy you shoot, I do not want too ( I did ask her twice). Mind you, after seeing the amount of antler coming at me it did not take me long to take her up on it. I was able to shoot and hit the buck even with all the extra things going on. I started tracking the buck.

By this time the drivers, my brother Darrell, my cousin Tom, my nephew Aaron and my sixteen year old son Joshua, caught up with me and jumped into the tracking action. We tracked for what seemed like a long and tiring time, through ravines and berry briars. You know... where deer like to hide. The thickest and nastiest stuff. As we are tracking we heard three shots from the neighbors property and thought, "Oh no, someone else got him." But, that was not the case.

As we came up the side of this small ravine we looked up and saw a deer laying in the leaves... but it had no horns. It was a doe. When we looked to our right we saw a hunter in his tree stand pointing at the deer laying on the ground indicating it was his. We ask him if he saw the big buck and he indicates no he had not. We took a moment to catch our breath while my brother Darrell continued to move towards the hunter in the tree stand. They started talking next to a large fallen tree and as I turn to look at them... there is the buck laying not ten yards from them on the opposite side of the tree with ears perked up looking right at me. Knowing that the gig is up ( I was about twenty yards from the buck at this point ) I yelled for everybody to stand still as I looked the situation over to decide if it was safe to shoot or not. It was safe so I aimed and let him have it. The deer jumped from its bed and took off. All I remember hearing was someone yelling, "Where did he come from?" It turned out to be the hunter in the tree stand who had shot the doe and never saw the buck at all. None the less, a very excited celebration started as I had caught up with my buck of a lifetime !


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