The Rose Buck

By Bob Rose

The Rose Buck

A few seconds can change an entire season.

Saturday, December 11th found snow cover and the wind had finally stopped. I would be making my last trip into the field for the regular season.

I had seen a lot of activity during bow, but since I had done quite a bit of scouting on this piece of property, I knew it was holding some very nice bucks. As my luck had turned out, only young bucks had come within range and I wasn’t even able to fill my antlerless tags. I just felt today was going to be different. The break in the weather and with a storm predicted for Sunday, the deer should be up and moving.

I had to take the long route to the stand I was going to hunt because there were so many does in the field along the trail I normally take. I made it in and didn't bump any that I knew of. It was a beautiful morning to sit...very light breeze in my face...field at my back and over looking a creek bottom that is often used as a travel corridor. The opposite hill across the creek is heavily covered with saplings and very thick.

No movement until 10 a.m. when an eight pointer came walking left to right up the creek. His rack was just at the ears with times about 5 inches long. I had passed him during archery, but I have had a very slow season with nothing on the ground yet. He would be coming out of the thicket in the bottom at about 50 yards, and that is a chip shot with the Encore ML. I was having the "shoot wait...he isn’t what you want…no shoot him…no"... argument in my head and was really paying attention to his movements.

He was five steps from hitting the opening and I was going to have to decide quickly whether to take him or not. I noticed he kept stopping and looking up over his left shoulder...up the hill into the sapling covered hill. ...step....look back. step....look back.

Since we had 100% snow cover I picked up movement at the top of the sapling hill. Three deer came trotting left to right with another following behind. They turned and headed into the creek bottom. I thought they would be crossing and coming into the picked soy bean field behind me. This should drag the 8-point out of the cover he was in.

When the does hit the creek bottom the 8-point bolted towards them and they ran into thick cover as far to the right as I could see. I could see them moving, but there were no shots. I went form very excited to, "I can't believe this happened", in seconds.

I heard a loud, low, grunt on top of the hill and a deer came trotting down. I pulled up and this must have been the fourth deer that was trailing the other three. I cranked up my scope to 9x and could see rack coming down the hill. Since I hunt often from this stand, I knew the only shot I would have if he trailed the three does and the 8-point was at the creek at 140 yards. I cocked the encore and steadied into the opening. He came in quartering away. Click...bang...big poof of white smoke and I can't see anything.

I reached for my speed loaders and there is a buck running right to left down at the creek bottom. I got loaded ...he stopped...I pulled up….it wasn't the buck I shot at. It was the original 8-point. Where is "my" buck? I looked back to where I shot and I saw movement. The buck was trying to get up. I took shot number two on him and I couldn't tell if I hit him....he jumped up on his feet and my heart sank. He trotted up the hill and headed towards a golden rod field. By the time I reloaded he is out of sight.

I regrouped and got out of the stand. I called my buddy and told him to go out and get the wheeler....I still am thinking I got a good hit on him and we will need it for recovery. I was really trying to stay positive, but it wasn’t easy.

The blood trail was great and I was looking at blood 50-75 feet ahead of me ...not at my feet.

The blood trail leads cross the golden rod field, into the connecting hardwoods, then into the flooded timber. Now I am getting more worried. I tell my buddy where to meet me and we meet up. I am very nervous because now we are near property that is heavily hunted and I am betting someone will end up shooting this deer. Plus we are coming up to a road and if he crosses he will be in an area we can not go and he will be lost. It is very hard to make a quiet track and I am worried about bumping the deer. That darn squeaky, packy, snow!

The tracking continued about 200 yards and there was very heavy blow down and tangled berry bushes, all snow covered and heaped in. I did not see any blood out in front or any side of it. "He has to be in there, he has to be!" I mumbled to myself. I slowly approach and just as I see the tips of the tines he bolts from the bed, butI was ready and put him down just as he hit his feet.

My buddy went for the wheeler and I may have just hurt my effort to get him to wait on bigger deer. The two of us had all we could do to lift this guy on the back rack, after a few pics of course. He is convinced now it is much easier to shoot small deer, both our backs are killing us today!

He got a nice, year and a half old, 7-point in the afternoon and I still did not get to fill a doe tag. My 9-point, broke off a G1, had19 inch inside spread, and scaled at 185 pounds dressed.

Oh, as a note, either I jerked the trigger or the buck hesitated as he entered my shooting lane. The first shot was top of the shoulder and into the neck. When I put my finger in the hole I could feel the neck bones, a half inch lower and he would not have moved. The second shot was a bit back, but hit the liver. When I was caping him, I noticed a nickel size scabbed up hole in his ear. It is not a tear from a fight, but a clean hole with ear missing. Either he had one of those piercings done or some hunter came very close to a head shot on him. I hate to say this, but I am happy he missed.

I couldn't be happier. I think this is also one of the deer we had on the trail cams in August.

Just a weekend left of Muzzleloader, but even without another opportunity this has been one great season. I shared it with my Father and great friends, what a bonus I was blessed with!

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